CAN THE PROCESS BE TOO FORGIVING?
PAROLE AND DETERMINATE SENTENCING

A misconception surrounding restorative justice is that supporters believe in releasing inmates, putting them back out on the streets — as if with a stronger sense of community and spirituality, all crime will end. Not true: restorative justice does not support the release of unfit prisoners.

Rather, it casts light on new judicial processes, and the rights or wrongs therein. The bottom-line theory is that, ultimately, one can begin anew. The question of whether one arrives at restoration “inside” or “outside” depends on the severity of the crime, the prisoner's history and achievements or failures during incarceration. All factors must be evaluated before putting a potential threat into a society filled with potential victims. And so we come to the issue of parole, its past and present, and seemingly ever-changing definition.

There are new laws directing more and more states toward determinate parole.6 In fact, parole is more likely to be abolished by new statutes of traditional justice than due to the implementation of restorative justice. Eleven states and the federal system have done away with parole, replacing it with what is known as determinate sentencing. Under this latest guideline, a prisoner loses

6. A useful discussion of the topic is found in “Determined Demise,” Prison Fellowship, 2000, by
Elizabeth Carole.

-19-

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