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.

  • New poll shows that American support for drug treatment vs. incarceration is on the rise

    Posted in Adult Probation, Audio, Parole and Re-Entry, ROC Blog, Substance Abuse: April 3, 2014 by Right on Crime

    A survey by Pew Research Center shows that the public is skeptical of sending non-violent drug offenders to prison — and finds that the majority prefer offenders be treated by way of rehabilitative programs. Marc Levin sits down with NPR News to discuss the issue. [Audio clip: view full post to listen] Click here to [...]

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  • Right on Crime congratulates Governor Rick Perry

    Posted in Events, Parole and Re-Entry, ROC Blog, State Initiatives, Substance Abuse, Texas: April 2, 2014 by Right on Crime

    Right on Crime congratulates Governor Rick Perry Perry receives Governor of the Year Award for his support of drug-court programs Austin, TX — Governor Rick Perry was today presented the National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ Governor of the Year Award. This year marks the 25th anniversary of drug courts — treatment programs that help rehabilitate non-violent drug [...]

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  • ROC signatory Jerry Madden led the way in developing TX justice reinvestment strategy

    Posted in Law Enforcement, Parole and Re-Entry, Prisons, ROC Blog, State Initiatives, Texas: April 2, 2014 by Right on Crime

    Right on Crime signatory Jerry Madden is credited by the Houston Chronicle as being a pioneer for early Texas criminal justice reforms.

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  • Marc Levin on “To the Point” with Warren Olney

    Posted in Audio, Parole and Re-Entry, Prisons, ROC Blog, Substance Abuse: March 18, 2014 by Right on Crime

    “What we’ve found is that sending people to prison who have a drug addiction, for example, they often only stay for a year or two… and of course when they get out, any positive ties they had to church or their family, those have been severed and…they come out worse than when they came in.” [Audio [...]

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  • Marc Levin, Right on Crime, featured in Texas Monthly

    Posted in Adult Probation, Parole and Re-Entry, Priority Issues, Prisons, ROC Blog, State Initiatives, Texas, The Criminal Justice Challenge, Victims: March 12, 2014 by Right on Crime

    Right on Crime featured in Texas Monthly

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  • A Second Act for Criminal Justice: Panel at TPPF’s PO2014

    Posted in Adult Probation, Audio and Video, Law Enforcement, Parole and Re-Entry, Prisons, ROC Blog, State Initiatives, Texas: February 17, 2014 by Right on Crime

    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.

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  • Marc Levin on ‘Drive Time Lincoln’ with Kevin Thomas

    Posted in Audio, Nebraska, Parole and Re-Entry, ROC Blog, State Initiatives: February 12, 2014 by Right on Crime

    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]

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  • Orange County Register: What does Texas know about prisons that we don’t?

    Posted in California, Law Enforcement, Parole and Re-Entry, Prisons, ROC Blog, State Initiatives, Texas: January 31, 2014 by Right on Crime

    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 [...]

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  • Chuck DeVore discusses CA reforms with the LaDona Harvey Show

    Posted in Adult Probation, Audio, California, Law Enforcement, Parole and Re-Entry, Prisons, ROC Blog, State Initiatives, Texas: January 31, 2014 by Right on Crime

    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 [...]

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  • Marc Levin’s research cited in TX Tribune’s ‘TribCast’

    Posted in Adult Probation, Audio, Law Enforcement, Parole and Re-Entry, Prisons, ROC Blog, State Initiatives, Substance Abuse, Texas: January 30, 2014 by Right on Crime

    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.

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