Prisoners among Us: The Problem of Parole

Prisoners among Us: The Problem of Parole

Prisoners among Us: The Problem of Parole

Prisoners among Us: The Problem of Parole

Excerpt

DIFFICULT and important policy choices originating in the criminal justice system now confront the American people. The crime problem is ever before our eyes, and the financial and human costs of attempts to deal with it are the focus of much attention in the media. Political leaders, no less than ordinary citizens, are concerned about the hardship and jeopardy that prison life inflicts on criminal offenders, yet they are justifiably fearful of the consequences for society if criminals are not incarcerated. This ambivalence pervades the central question that the parole system seeks to answer: How can prisoners be released to supervised living in the community without endangering society?

The officials who administer the parole system have varied qualifications. They are organized in different patterns in the fifty states and the federal government, and they work under divergent laws and other guidelines. Yet they all share the desire to protect society from crime while fostering the reform of criminal offenders.

The importance, complexity, and persistence of the parole problem led the Brookings Institution to undertake this inquiry into the purposes and performance of parole systems in the United States. The study was carried out by David T. Stanley, at the time a senior fellow in the Brookings Governmental Studies program. Mr. Stanley, who has also been an advisor to the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration on setting goals and evaluating programs, made an extensive review of the literature and statistics of corrections generally, and of parole in particular, and consulted with leading analysts and practitioners in these fields. He studied the parole operations of the federal government, the District of Columbia, and four states—California, Colorado, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

He finds much uncertainty of purpose and practice in the decision‐ making of parole boards, waste motion in supervision of parolees, injustice in methods of revoking parole, and inadequacy in the provision of community rehabilitative assistance. He proposes an alternative system . . .

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