Parole: Early Release and Reintegration
1. Present a brief history of American parole development.
2. Understand the function of parole in the criminal justice system.
3. Define parole and explain the parole decision-making process.
4. Describe the characteristics of the parole population.
5. Explain the circumstances under which parole may be revoked.
6. Summarize current issues in parole.
Parole as Part of the Criminal Justice System
· Concept of parole developed in the 18th century from the practice of indentured servitude.
· The indentured servant had to comply with certain conditions to remain in supervised “freedom.”
· Maconochie was a British Navy Captain who developed a “ticket of leave” system, which moved inmates through stages: imprisonment, conditional release, and complete restoration of liberty.
Early American Parole Development
· First legislation authorizing parole was enacted in Massachusetts in 1837.
· By 1889, 12 states had implemented parole programs; by 1944, all 48 states had enacted parole legislation.
Parole Development in the Early 29th Century
· The Wickersham Commission issued a report in 1931 that advocated uniformity in state parole practices by recommending that states establish centralized policymaking boards to write standards and guidelines for parole practices.
o Essential elements:
§ Indeterminate sentence law permitting conditional early release.
§ Provision of quality release preparation.
§ Familiarity by the parole officer with the home and environmental conditions of the offender.
§ Sufficient staffing levels to ensure an adequate number of parole officers to supervise parolees.
Parole Development in the Late 20th Century
· Opposition to parole resurfaced in the 1960s and 1970s.
· In the 1970s, research indicated that prison rehabilitation programs had few positive benefits.
· In 1987, the American Probation and Parole Association voiced its support of parole and objected to efforts to abolish it.
· By the year 2000, 15 states and the federal government had abolished it, and another five states had abolished discretionary parole release for certain violent offenses or other crimes against a person.
The Parole Process
Missouri's Parole service
· All states have some type of prisoner reentry programming, but they differ on a number of important dimensions.
· Reentry programs often include exposure to education, job readiness programs, and substance abuse counseling.
· There are many barriers to successful reentry for prisoners.
· What can be done to make reentry easier/more successful?
Missouri's Reentry Program
Granting parole—The Paroling Authority
· The paroling authority’s decision to grant or deny parole is partially based on its assessment of potential risk to the community.
· The most important factors in the decision to grant or to deny parole tends to be the nature of the inmate’s offense and the inmate’s prior criminal record, attitude toward the victim, institutional adjustment, and insight into the causes of past criminal conduct.
· State parole boards determine the actual duration of incarceration and exercise discretionary release and revocation powers.
Missouri's Parole Board
Granting Parole—The Hearing
· Parolee hearings are usually attended by the applicant, the institutional representative, and hearing examiners or parole boards members.
Types of Parole
Characteristics of Parolees
Trends in the Parole Population
· The parole population has continually increased, averaging a growth of 1.5 percent per year.
· Many parolees are restricted from certain types of employment and also are not allowed to vote because of their felony history.
Trends in Parole Success
· Of the 448,000 parolees discharged from supervision in 2002, 45 percent successfully completed the conditions of their supervisions, 41 percent were returned to prison or jail, and 9 percent absconded, 2 percent were “other unsuccessful,” 1 percent was transferred, 1 percent died, and 1 percent was “other.”
· Some researchers found that first-time releases to state parole do better than re-releases.
· Parolees released by discretionary means are more successful than those released by mandatory provisions.
Issues in Parole
Reentry Courts and Community Partnership Councils
· Six core elements for reentry courts:
o Assessment and planning.
o Active judicial oversight.
o Case management of support services.
o Accountability to the community.
o Graduated sanctions.
o Rewarding success.
· Parole officers recognize the need for more treatment resources and job assistance to help their parolees, and this need may be served by some reentry courts.
Reintegration of Offenders
· The challenges facing most parolees are employment readiness, substance abuse treatment, housing, and health care.
· Many released offenders lack the basic skills to fill out job applications, read bus schedules, or calculate a price discount.
· A number of states have developed successful reintegration programs:
o Chicago’s Safer Foundation.
o Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO).
o Reintegration of Offenders (RIO).
o Corrections Clearinghouse (CC).
Reintegration Involving Victims
· Victims can assist parole boards by providing relevant information, offering their experience and expertise, and encouraging offender accountability.
Legal Decisions Affecting Parole
· Morrissey v. Brewer (1967).
· Gagnon v. Scarpelli (1973).
· Greenholtz v. Inmates of the Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex (1979).
Abolition of Discretionary Parole Board Release
Early English judges spared the lives of condemned felons by exiling them to America as indentured servants. Captain Alexander Maconochie, superintendent of the British penal colony on Norfolk Island, devised a “ticket of leave” system that moved inmates through stages. Sir Walter Crofton used some of Maconochie’s ideas for his early release system in Ireland. In the United States, Zebulon Brockway implemented a system of upward classification.
Paroling authorities play powerful roles in the criminal justice system. They determine the length of incarceration for many offenders and can revoke parole. The paroling authority’s policies have a direct impact on an institution’s population. Paroling authorities use state laws and information from courts and other criminal justice agencies to make release decisions.
Parole is the conditional release of a prison inmate, prior to sentence expiration, with supervision in the community. The parole process of release begins in the courtroom when the judge sentences an offender to either a determinate or an indeterminate sentence. After serving a certain portion of his or her sentence, an offender is eligible for parole release. That portion varies from state to state. If an inmate maintains good conduct for a certain amount of time preceding the parole hearing and is granted parole, he or she must live in accordance with specified rules and regulations in the community. If a parolee violates either the technical conditions of parole or commits a new crime, he or she may have parole revoked.
On January 1, 2003, l753, 141 American adults were on parole, representing an increase of 2.8 percent (20,808) parolees) over January 1, 2002. Eighty-nine percent are state parolees. The typical adult parolee is a black, non-Hispanic male, on mandatory parole, and under active parole supervision for more than one year. His median age is 34 and he has an 11th grade education. Women make up 14 percent of the parole population. The region with the highest number of parolees is the South, followed by the Northeast, West, and Midwest.
Parole may be revoked for a technical violation (failure to comply with one of the conditions of parole) or for a new offense violation (commission of a crime). Two-thirds of all parolees are rearrested within three years, typically within the first six months of release. Of the nearly 448,000 parolees discharged from supervision in 2002, 183,680 (41 percent) were returned to prison either because of a rule violation or new offense, up from 27,177 in 1980 and 131,502 in 1990. Currently, rearrests comprise 35 percent of all prison admissions as compared with 17 percent in 1980.
The reentry court concept, designed to mange parolee return to the community, requires that the parolees make regular court appearances for progress assessment. Community Partnership Councils unit community leaders and local agencies with parole officers and administrators to study parole operations and issues and assist with service provisions and public education. Reintegration of offenders today emphasizes job readiness and programs to address needs common to offenders such as substance abuse counseling, housing, and medical care before inmates are released and continues after release. Reintegration involving victims encourages victims to volunteer relevant information to parole officers and supports victim-offender communication. In these programs, victims educate offenders about the impact of the crime and generate remorse in the hope that they can change offender behavior in the future.
Three important U.S. Supreme Court decisions significantly affected parole. In Morrissey v. Brewer (1972), the U.S. Supreme Court said that parole, once granted, becomes a right, and that parolees are to have certain due process rights in any revocation hearing. In Gagnon v. Scarpelli (1973), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a probationer has a limited right to counsel in a revocation hearing, and that the hearing body must decide whether counsel should be provided on a case-by-case basis. In Greenholtz v. Inmates of the Nebraska Penal and Correctional complex (1979), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parole is a privilege; therefore, the full complement of due process rights need not be afforded at parole hearings. As a result, states are deciding what inmate privileges are appropriate at parole hearings.
Today, 16 states and the federal government have abolished discretionary release from prison by a parole board for all offenders. Another four states have abolished discretionary parole release for certain violent offenses or other crimes against a person. In these states, postrelease supervision still exists and is referred to as “mandatory supervised release,” “controlled release,” or “community control.”
Parole: The conditional release of a prisoner, prior to completion of the imposed sentence, under the supervision of a parole officer.
Discretionary release: Early release based on the paroling authority’s assessment of eligibility.
Mandatory release: Early release after a time period specified by law.
Pardon: An executive act that legally excuses a convicted offender from a criminal penalty.
Parole eligibility date: The earliest date on which an inmate might be paroled.
Paroling authority: A person or correctional agency (often called a parole board or parole commission) that has the authority to grant parole, revoke parole, and discharge from parole.
Salient factor score (SFS): Scale, developed from a risk-screening instrument, used to predict parole outcome.
Parolee: A person who is conditionally released from prison to community supervision.
Reentry court: A court that manages the return to the community of individuals released from prison.