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
AG Holder Hesitant on Assessments
In an exclusive interview granted to Time Magazine, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed strong concerns about the equity of empirical risk assessments used to determine how a sentence will be carried out. His concern is that “static” risk factors (those that are largely unchangeable through rehabilitation like educational attainment and employment history) unduly influence these […]:: Read More
“N.J. lags in monitoring inmates upon release”
Marc Levin in Philly.com on overhauling current parole laws in New Jersey: “It’s definitely important public policy,” he said of the supervision. “It’s holding people accountable, and it makes sense.” Click here to read more.:: Read More
Right on Crime signatories applaud findings of report “Max Out: The Rise in Prison Inmates Released Without Supervision”
Right on Crime signatories applaud findings of report “Max Out: The Rise in Prison Inmates Released Without Supervision” Austin, TX — Responding to a new national report showing high rates of prison inmates being released without supervision, Right on Crime signatories today called for policies that ensure offenders receive post-prison supervision and support. The report, […]:: Read More
Louisiana looks to Texas to get right on crime
“The Pelican Institute points out that Louisiana is out of step, even with conservative states like Texas and Georgia, which have moved away from prison terms for nonviolent offenders to emphasize rehabilitation. Click here to read more.:: Read More
New poll shows that American support for drug treatment vs. incarceration is on the rise
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. Click here to read more from The Crime Report.:: Read More
Right on Crime congratulates Governor Rick Perry
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 […]:: Read More
ROC signatory Jerry Madden led the way in developing TX justice reinvestment strategy
Right on Crime signatory Jerry Madden is credited by the Houston Chronicle as being a pioneer for early Texas criminal justice reforms.:: Read More
Marc Levin on “To the Point” with Warren Olney
“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.”:: Read More
Marc Levin, Right on Crime, featured in Texas Monthly
Right on Crime featured in Texas Monthly:: Read More
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
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