An Overview of the Parole System and its Problems Overcrowding in both state and federal prisons has been a major problem facing the corrections system. There have been many ways to try and stop the overcrowding, but it is still a problem to this day. Parole is just one strategy that has helped with this problem. The first actual type of parole was introduced by Alexander Maconochie in 1840. It was a primitive system and the first actual system of parole was introduced in 1846 by Sir Walter Crofton. Crofton had the first system in which parolees would be put back in prison if their parole conditions were violated. Also, Crofton introduced supervision by police officials. These officials proved to be the first actual parole officers. It was not until 1870 that parole was first introduced to the United States. Parole is defined as the, ?release of an offender from a penal or correctional institution, after he has served a portion of his sentence, under the continued custody of the state and under conditions that permit his reincarceration in the event of misbehavior? (p.437 Allen et al). Parole seems like a reasonable and effective way to get prisoners back on the streets, rehabilitated and helping out the community, but parole still faces many challenges and problems. More and more inmates are being let out on parole, but at the same time, parole boards are losing funding. This puts a strain on parole officers and leaves many parolees unsupervised. It is problems like this that lead to parolees ending up back in prison. ?Based on the offense that brought parolees back to prison, these 156,000 offenders committed at least 6,800 murders, 5,500 rapes, 8,800 assaults, and 22,500 robberies, while under supervision in the community an average of 13 months? (p.1 Cohen). These are eye-opening numbers. If parolees end up back in prison, then the system is not working. With such staggering numbers, how is the community protected? How can the system insure that the parolees are being rehabilitated? The main ideas to be discussed in the following paragraphs are: how can the system prepare its prisoners for parole, and prevent them from being re-entered back into prison.
Major Issues With so many people on parole, it has been hard for the system to look after all of its parolees. So many people are getting out on parole and a lack of funding for rehabilitation programs, have led to a major problem. ?Support and funding have declined, resulting in dangerously high caseloads. Parolees sometimes abscond from supervision; more than half of all parolees are rearrested? (p. 1 Petersilia). It is hard for a community to feel safe with facts like this. Since these parolees are not being watched over by the system, they are free to do as they please. Many parolees are violating their parole, but not being punished for it. ?Felony probationers and parolees are not permitted to possess a firearm while under supervision. Yet 21% of probation and parole violators imprisoned for a new offense reported possessing a firearm while under supervision? (p. 1 Cohen). Many find it hard to believe that such criminals are being released back into their neighborhoods. Having parolees in the community who are not rehabilitated, can have a serious affect on how the community develops. ?It is detrimental to community cohesion, employment prospects and economic well being, participation in the democratic process, family stability and childhood development, and mental and physical health and can exacerbate such problems as homelessness? (p. 3 Petersilia). Sometimes, parolees leave prison with no money saved and the fact that they have been in prison, and are most likely uneducated, jobs can be hard to find. Without jobs, parolees must sometimes resort back to their criminal ways as a means of survival. It seems the only way to stop such problems would be better supervision once parolees are let out and have them interact with the community.
The Systems Response...
Cited: Petersilia, Joan. ?When Prisoners Return to the Community: Political, Economic, and Social Consequences.? Sentencing and Corrections. No. 9. (November 2000). World Wide Web. 20. Nov. 2003. http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/184253.pdf Wiebush, Richard G., Betsie McNulty, and Thao Le. ?Implementation of the Intensive-Community Based Aftercare Program.? Juvenile Justice Bulletin. (July 200). World Wide Web. 20 Nov. 2003. http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/ojjdp/181464.pdf Cohen, Robyn L. ?Probation and Parole Violators in State Prison, 1991.? Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. (August 1995). World Wide Web. 20 Nov. 2003. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/ppvsp91.pdf Allen, Harry E., Clifford E. Simonsen, and Edward J. Latessa. Corrections in America. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2004.
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