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Parole and Re-Entry

THE ISSUE. “Reentry” is the term used to describe the process of reintegrating criminal offenders back into their communities. A proper parole system must include effective reentry programs. If not, a state will have spent money to incarcerate and release an offender without making any effort to limit his or her potential to re-offend. This would not serve public safety interests, and it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars.

THE IMPACT. If used wisely, parole – the supervised release of prison inmates before the end of their sentence – can help transition offenders into lives as free men and women. A 2005 Urban Institute study of data collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics determined that women, individuals with few prior arrests, property offenders, public order offenders, and technical violators (those who violate conditions of community supervision, but do not otherwise commit new crimes), are less likely to be arrested again if they undergo parole supervision at the end of a prison term. For these offenders, parole and reentry programs are a wise use of taxpayer dollars. The Urban Institute study also concluded, however, that violent criminals and drug offenders do not benefit from parole supervision. For these offenders, treatment and/or incarceration may be more sensible approaches.

One key to an effective system of parole is proper monitoring. Inmates who are released on parole should receive regular supervision – in the form of in-person or phone check-ins – to make sure they are employed and maintain a permanent residence. In addition, some offenders may be required to attend regular substance abuse or psychiatric counseling. These services should aid the offender’s reentry into his or her community, with an objective of having someone become a productive citizen rather than a re-offender. Parolees who fail to meet the conditions of their release or who commit another offense while released should be returned to prison.

Smart parole policies not only advance public safety, they are considerably cheaper than incarceration. In the state of Texas, for example, parole costs $4 dollars per day per offender, whereas incarceration costs $50.

THE CONSERVATIVE SOLUTION.

• Use evidence-based methods, such as risk assessments, to determine who would benefit from parole and who would not benefit.

• Allow parole only for certain non-violent offenders, and encourage the use of intermediate sanctions facilities, rather than prisons, for these parolees when they commit technical violations rather than new crimes.

• Utilize GPS technology to monitor those on parole, which is more efficient and effective than phone check-in.

• Expand the use of ignition interlock devices for DWI offenders who are on parole.

• Implement cost-effective technologies (such as bracelets) which monitor blood-alcohol levels through an offender’s sweat and continuously send the results back to parole officers.  Also, consider requirements that offenders regularly be tested for sobriety in-person (e.g., South Dakota’s 24-7 Sobriety Program).

• Reduce the potential tort liabilities to employers for negligent hiring suits. Reduced tort liability will make employers more likely to hire parolees. Statistics show that parolees with good, steady jobs are less likely to reoffend.

INTERVIEW: TPPF’s Alice Marie Johnson Talks Being Released From Prison, Criminal Justice Reform With Sean Hannity

Right on Crime | February 5, 2020
The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s new senior fellow Alice Marie Johnson joins Sean Hannity’s program to discuss mentoring other inmates while in prison and being released after receiving clemency…

Modernizing Parole Supervision to Enhance Workforce Outcomes

Right on Crime | December 23, 2019
Parole offices can play the role of the coordinating body for workforce development to improve public safety and employment outcomes. By improving access to tangible resources and services for…

First Step Act: One Year Later

Right on Crime | December 21, 2019
President Donald J. Trump The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20050 Dear Mr. President: On the one-year anniversary of the signing of the First Step Act,…

Notes On Probation and Parole from New York City

Scott Peyton | December 19, 2019
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan described the Statue of Liberty as a “beacon of hope.” This icon of Liberty and Democracy has been a “beacon of hope” for so…

Getting Technical: Preventing and Responding to Technical Supervision Violations and Misdemeanors

Right on Crime | December 18, 2019
Many states have experienced stubbornly high rates of revocations from community supervision in recent years, especially for technical violations. This paper examines several of the best policies and practices…

Reforming Reporting Day

Scott Peyton | August 20, 2019
While working as a probation and parole (PNP) officer, on a dreaded “reporting day,” one of my parolees told me that I was “punishing him because he had a…

Reentry Reform

Scott Peyton | July 25, 2019
My former supervisor from Probation and Parole always said, “you attract more bees with honey,” when describing how we were to interact with persons on supervision. We have all…

Community Supervision in Tennessee

Julie Warren | June 17, 2019
Reforms to Tennessee’s community supervision system—including to parole, probation, and community corrections—are necessary and can lead to improvements in the challenges of overcrowding and reentry.

Community Supervision in Wisconsin

Thomas Lyons | June 11, 2019
Tom Lyons, Right on Crime’s state director for Wisconsin, provides a policy brief of the state’s community supervision apparatus and discusses some of its challenges – including the higher-than-average…

Louisiana Bill Advances to Allow Hospice Workers to Continue Work Beyond Prison Walls

Scott Peyton | May 16, 2019
As part of my training to become a Catholic Deacon, I spent time one summer working with a local hospice organization. I joined along with a hospice worker as…

Released Inmate Documentation

Kaycie Alexander | May 14, 2019
Studies have shown that the number one factor in reducing the risk of recidivism is obtaining employment. When employment is not easily obtained, ex-offenders often become discouraged and return…

Results-Oriented Solutions for Probation Funding

Right on Crime | May 3, 2019
Right on Crime policy analyst Michael Haugen examines various performance-based probation funding models across the country, which base their formulas upon the ability of probation departments to expand supervision…
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