Priority Issues: Parole and Re-Entry
I. 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.
II. 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.
III. 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.
An Act of Faith: Florida Can Save Money, Reduce Crime, Salvage Lives by the James Madison Institute
Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation, and Sentencing of Offenders by the Ministry of Justice of the United Kingdom
Criminal Justice Policy in Delaware: Options for Controlling Costs and Protecting Public Safety by the Caesar Rodney Institute
Criminal Justice Policy in New Mexico: Keys to Controlling Costs and Protecting Public Safety by the Rio Grande Foundation
Does Parole Work?: Analyzing the Impact of PostPrison Supervision on Rearrest Outcomes published by The Urban Institute
Five Technological Solutions for Texas’ Correctional and Law Enforcement Challenges by the Texas Public Policy Foundation
The Role of Risk Assessment in Enhancing Public Safety and Efficiency in Texas Corrections published by the Texas Public Policy Foundation
Smart on Crime: With Prison Costs on the Rise, Ohio Needs Better Policies for Protecting the Public by the Buckeye Institute
Stopping the Revolving Door: Reform of Community Corrections in Wisconsin by The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute
Working With Conviction: Criminal Offenses as Barriers to Entering Licensed Occupations in Texas by the Texas Public Policy Foundation
A Second Act for Criminal Justice: Panel at TPPF’s PO2014
Adam Gelb, Director of Public Safety Performance Project at Pew Charitable Trusts, The Honorable Bill Hammond, President and CEO of Texas Association of Business, and Representatives Abel Hererro and Tan Parker of the Texas House of Representatives discuss adult corrections in the Lone Star State.:: Read More
Marc Levin on ‘Drive Time Lincoln’ with Kevin Thomas
Marc Levin spoke with KLIN’s ‘Drive Time Lincoln’ to discuss public safety and post-incarceration employment in Nebraska. [Audio clip: view full post to listen]:: Read More
Orange County Register: What does Texas know about prisons that we don’t?
In lieu of Chuck DeVore’s testimony in California on the topic of realignment, Democratic Senator Mark Leno and committee chairman, acknowledged that his state’s criminal justice system needs improvement. “We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Sen. Leno. “Not only is the population not going down, it’s going up. Not only are we not saving [...]:: Read More
Chuck DeVore discusses CA reforms with the LaDona Harvey Show
Following his testimony before California’s Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, Chuck DeVore sat down with KOGO’s LaDona Harvey out of San Digeo to reiterate the prison reform successes of Texas and tell why he believes The Golden State would benefit from following in the footsteps of Right On Crime. Click here to listen to [...]:: Read More
Marc Levin’s research cited in TX Tribune’s ‘TribCast’
During this week’s edition of The Texas Tribune‘s political podcast ‘TribCast,’ ROC policy director Marc Levin’s research regarding cost of incarceration vs. rehabilitation is discussed as the contributors talk about Governor Perry’s marijuana decriminalization remarks. Click here to listen to the podcast.:: Read More
Vikrant Reddy in Huffington Post
In this Huffington Post article, senior policy analyst Vikrant Reddy makes the case for criminal justice reform from a social conservative standpoint.:: Read More
Washington Post: “Texas leads the way in needed criminal justice reforms”
In the Lone Star State, the effort [to reform the criminal justice system] has conservative roots. Budget-minded state leaders crafted an alternative to perpetually feeding money into prison construction to warehouse non-violent offenders, rather than investing in drug treatment or better parole programs. Click here for the full story from Washington Post.:: Read More
HuffPo credits ROC with utilizing “innovative alternatives” to incarceration
Calling immigration detention an “outdated model,” this Huffington Post article recognizes the Right On Crime initiative, saying “Where some level of supervision is necessary, advances in technology, effective case management approaches, and the development of cost-effective alternatives to detention give the federal government the tools to reform its approach. It should take a cue from Texas [...]:: Read More
Right On Crime in Texas Monthly
In response to Governor Perry’s remarks concerning the decriminalization of marijuana, this article by Texas Monthly credits Right On Crime’s reform policies with helping to reduce Texas’ incarceration rates. “Texas’s recent reforms on drug policy are summarized at the Right on Crime initiative, which began here, at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and has since spread [...]:: Read More
The New York Times: “America on Probation”
“Restoring common sense to sentencing is the obvious first step in downsizing prisons.” In his latest op-ed, Bill Keller of The New York Times, writes about the issue of mass incarceration in the U.S. and what our nation can do to reverse this trend. The ROC statement of principles is also cited in the article [...]:: Read More
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