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
Washington Post: ‘A more benevolent nation?’
Right on Crime in the Washington Post: E.J. Dionne champions ROC’s advocacy for “community-based programs rather than excessive mandatory minimum sentencing policies and prison expansion.” Click here to view the full article.:: Read More
State criminal justice reforms in action
Posted in Adult Probation, Georgia, Law Enforcement, Ohio, Parole and Re-Entry, Priority Issues, Prisons, ROC Blog, South Dakota, State Initiatives, Substance Abuse, Texas, The Criminal Justice Challenge: October 17, 2013 by Right on Crime
This new ROC infographic gives the facts about criminal justice in Texas and proves that our reforms are effective. Check out the infographic below and and click here to read more about state-level reforms. [Click here to enlarge infographic]:: Read More
Rollins: Criminal justice reform — Texas style
“October is Crime Prevention Month, and I am reminded that not long ago people spoke of the “Texas Model” as a purely punitive approach to criminal justice. Decades of steady prison growth consumed an ever-increasing percentage of the general budget. Even with the nation’s highest incarceration rate, Texas’ cities and towns were still plagued with [...]:: Read More
The American Prospect: “Prison Reform: No Longer Politically Toxic?”
Marc Levin in The American Prospect: “[Too] often states send low-risk, nonviolent offenders to prison for a year or less, which often means any benefit of incapacitation is outweighed by the fact that these offenders are often more of a risk when they leave due to who they encountered behind bars and their ties to [...]:: Read More
“Reforming the Prison-Industrial Complex”
“Playing against type, hang-’em-high Texas has been a model of prison reform and innovative reentry programs of the sort championed by Right on Crime. It has sent fewer people to prison while crime has continued to decline in the state.” Read Rich Lowry’s National Review article in full.:: Read More
Vikrant P. Reddy on NPR’s ‘Tell Me More with Michel Martin’
“It’s obvious that if you lock more people up you’re going to have less crime, just because you’ve incapacitated people. But of course, the problem is that at a certain point you’re going to get diminishing returns. You can just start locking up far too many people and you’d find that those dollars could be [...]:: Read More
Marc Levin quoted in The New York Times
Right On Crime Policy Director Marc Levin was quoted in The New York Times discussing Right On Crime. Read the full article here.:: Read More
Hiring ex-offenders helps society
A recent article in The Economist discusses complications of hiring ex-offenders. Although many employers prefer not to hire convicted felons, choosing another candidate can open them up to discrimination lawsuits. As the article notes, “Employers face a dilemma. They cannot simply ignore applicants’ criminal histories. State and federal laws bar some felons from certain jobs, [...]:: Read More
Right On Crime in the ABA Journal
Right on Crime Policy Director Marc Levin is featured in a recent American Bar Association Journal article advocating for policies that reduce the collateral consequences facing ex-offenders.:: Read More
Grover Norquist on Michael Medved radio show
Here is a partial transcript from a recent Michael Medved radio show, where he interviewed signatory Grover Norquist about our work on criminal justice reform. They discussed the conservative way forward for prison reform, and ensuring that taxpayers get the best deal from the system, all while reducing crime and recidivism. Medved: So are we [...]:: Read More
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