Jessica A. Taylor
University of Phoenix
CJA 313 Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice
August 8, 2010
The criminal justice system in America is very complex. It has many parts that must work together in order for it to be effective. The criminal justice system relies on politicians to create laws, judges to interpret laws, and police officials to enforce the laws. However, our system would not be as effective, if not for the vigilant efforts of other agencies and groups. Although often overlooked by the public the parole and probation programs in America are important components of the American criminal justice system. These programs must continue to evolve to ensure the current and future effectiveness of our criminal justice system. The parole and probation program was designed to help give a second chance to people who have made criminal mistakes, while still safeguarding the community. The parole and probation program recognizes that some people have the ability to be rehabilitated and become productive members of their communities. Americans do not want their countrymen held in jail unnecessarily and these two programs help ensure that only people who deserve to be in jail are held. The probation program in America highlights the belief that incarceration is not America’s first choice, when dealing with criminal behavior. This ideology is the basis of all the recommendations and solutions made in this report. The goal of this analysis is to increase awareness of the parole and probation programs and to initiate changes that will help maintain the effectiveness of these programs. I have been tasked by the Michigan state attorney general to write an analysis and create a way to improve the parole and probation programs. The recommendations in this report will be implemented and tested in Detroit, MI. The Governor of Michigan has promised to support full state-wide implementations of the recommendations if they are successful. This report will begin by presenting an historical and current synopsis of the parole and probation programs. Next, the report will cover some aspects of the administration of parole and probation programs. Then the report will give a depiction of some of the problems facing these programs. Finally, the recommendations and conclusion will be given. Parole
It is a common misconception that parole and probation are the same entity. Community supervision is the chief component in both parole and probation; however there is one huge difference between the two. In order to be paroled, a person must first be incarcerated. Conversely, probation is used by judges as an alternative to incarceration (Mackenzie, 2002). When granted parole an inmate is conditionally released from incarceration. Parolees’ are expected to comply with the terms of release; failure to do so can result in the parolee being returned to incarceration (parole violation). The concept of parole in the United States of America was introduced by Zebulon Brockway around 1876. Mr. Brockway championed the idea of indiscriminate sentences and parole release from prison. Indiscriminate sentences or the “Irish system” allowed for prisoners to earn their way from prison to conditional release back into mainstream society, essentially paroled. The initiative was successful and by 1944 the entire United States of America had adapted some form of indiscriminate sentences and parole for prisoners (Mackenzie, 2002). Through the years, Mr. Brockway’s ideas have come under intense scrutiny and some states have adopted more discriminate sentencing. Mr. Brockway’s ideas are still the basis for the parole system in the United States of America today. The most disputed argument with regard to parole is not whether or not it is needed, but rather how should it be instituted? What criteria should be used to judge a prisoner’s worthiness for a sentence remittance? How can we effectively managed...