In More States, Parole Is a Thing of the Past ; Several Cases in California - and the Spread of Laws Elsewhere - Underscore the Fall of Parole Nationwide

By Paul Van Slambrouck, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 22, 2000 | Go to article overview

In More States, Parole Is a Thing of the Past ; Several Cases in California - and the Spread of Laws Elsewhere - Underscore the Fall of Parole Nationwide


Paul Van Slambrouck, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Luis Frias has been something of a model prisoner for 15 years. So much so, that the California state parole board has approved him for release from prison twice.

But in each case, Mr. Frias's family says politics intervened and kept the man, imprisoned for causing the death of a woman during a robbery, behind bars.

In many states across the country, the age-old practice of granting parole has been on the decline in the 1990s. Some states - such as Ohio and Wisconsin - have abolished parole, while others have just outlawed it for violent offenders. It's part and parcel of a public and political mood to get tough on crime, say criminologists.

Yet even in states like California, where parole remains a legal part of the criminal-justice system, the trend is reaching a zenith. Here, the granting of it to serious felons, no matter what their performance in prison, has virtually disappeared.

While that fact shows no sign of creating any public fuss, the apparent abandonment of a practice rooted deep in the American justice system is stirring criticism by some criminologists, some politicians, and even the courts themselves.

The argument for parole

In short, critics say parole is warranted for a small segment of even the most serious offenders. It is written into the law and has served over the years as an incentive for rehabilitating prisoners and making them productive members of society.

Since Democratic Gov. Gray Davis took office in January 1999, the state prison board has recommended parole 18 times. That's a small slice of the 2,000 or so inmates reviewed.

But even the 18 were 18 too many for Mr. Davis. Not a single parole recommendation has been approved by the governor.

"What this means is that the parole function has ceased to operate," even though that function is part of the law and part of sentencing says criminologist Franklin Zimring, at the University of California at Berkeley. "It's really serious when the words in the law lose their meaning."

Sharing alarm over the trend, Democratic state Sen. John Vasconcellos accused the state parole board recently of holding "Kafkaesque hearings in which conclusions have nothing to do with the facts."

Nationally, both political parties have spent the past decade ratcheting up penalties and reducing judicial discretion in the criminal courts. Being tough on crime has become bedrock for political success.

Yet the dynamics in California suggest a mini-backlash to the wholesale disappearance of parole, even for the most serious offenders.

The cases in question do not include prisoners on death row or inmates who have been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

In More States, Parole Is a Thing of the Past ; Several Cases in California - and the Spread of Laws Elsewhere - Underscore the Fall of Parole Nationwide
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.