Last year, EXiT: Executive Transforming Probation and Parole, a network of current and former probation and parole chiefs, prosecutors, defense bar, and people with lived experience of supervision, convened for an all day convening centered on the theme of making probation and parole smaller, less punitive, more hopeful and restorative. Rev. Vivian Nixon, an EXiT signatory and the writer-in-residence at Columbia Justice Lab's Square One Project, closed out the convening by sharing her personal experience with supervision and how a coalition like EXiT can propel the way forward to reforming supervision.
Click here to watch her powerful closing remarks.
"I've been waiting for this for a long time," said Rev. Nixon. "I was on parole in the early 2000s, and had it not been for a parole officer who was way ahead of his time in thinking, I would not have been able to work, go to school, and meet all the conditions of parole. He would always start off our conversations with, 'How's school going? What do you need?'"
Rev. Nixon, who began her degree in higher education while under supervision, closed out the day of important discussions about the impacts of and next steps for community supervision reform. Branching off from her own experiences to her observations as a leader in justice reform, Rev. Nixon's address spotlighted EXiT's policy aim to reduce punitiveness and increase hopefulness in supervision, and serves as a reminder that EXiT's work does and should center people, not just problems.
Rev. Nixon's words left a lasting impression on all those in the room, who left the convening with hope and renewed motivation to transform probation and parole by making it smaller, less punitive, and more hopeful, equitable and restorative.