Mass Supervision Is Not the Solution to Mass Incarceration

Chicago, IL – January 22, 2019 – Five decades ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., warned, “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable on being conquered.”

On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, Gamaliel affiliates across the country will be declaring their commitment to ending Mass Supervision. From Pittsburgh, PA, to Springfield and Chicago, IL, from Oakland, CA, to St. Louis, MO, and Kansas City, KS, affiliates will also be taking action to address the individual criminal justice issues that impact their communities.  Press conferences at state capitols and DA’s offices, meeting with editorial boards, prayer vigils, restorative justice roundtables, and advocacy trainings are only a few of the actions planned.

Electronic monitoring, once believed to be an alternative to mass incarceration, has emerged as (and been labeled by Michelle Alexander as)  the “newest Jim Crow.”  Mass Supervision refers to the huge increase in the number of people around the country who are on probation, parole, or “extended supervision.”  These are the people who are not in a jail or prison, but who are under the control of the corrections system.  People on supervision are deprived of some basic rights, such as the right to vote and the right to due process before being punished.  In 1980, the number of people on supervision in the U.S. was about 1.25 million.  By 2016, that number was about 5 million—and it has grown at exactly the same rate as mass incarceration.

“Mass supervision is a violation of our values,” said Rev. David Bigsby, chair, Gamaliel Council of Presidents.  “It is a form of incarceration that puts profits before people—particularly people of color—and pushes the carceral state into our streets and homes, harming family and community.  The Gamaliel Network is committed to eliminating the use of Mass Supervision.”

Rev. Cynthia Jarrold
Gamaliel National Policy Director


Gamaliel is a grassroots network of non-partisan, faith-based organizations in 16 states and 45 regions that has, for more than 35 years, trained ordinary people to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives.


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