Should parole release be abolished? This is one of the most talked about topics in the criminal justice field today. Many people feel it is time to do away with parole, while others are fighting to keep it around. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument, all of which are very convincing.
One of the strongest arguments against the parole system is the overpopulation problem in most prisons. Between 1986 and 1991, prisons have seen a 41% increase in the population of violent offenders, for drug related offenses the number has risen three-fold. One would see parole as a way to control this overpopulation problem, right? Well, not exactly. Inmate populations continue to grow, and spaces to put them are limited, in some prisons there is actually a waiting list. When one prisoner leaves prison another immediately takes the vacant spot.
Looking at it this way you can see that parole release is not the answer to this problem, and creates new ones due to the increase in the operations costs. This was shown between 1976 and 1984, 10 states passed new laws that included the abolition of parole. Only one state, Indiana, had an increase in inmate population. In fact, Minnesota and Washington state both had a major reduction in their prisoner populations. The other ten states did not show any change in their inmate population.
Another agreement against parole release; is the effect parole has on the success of a released inmate. Most studies show that unfortunately there is a negative impact on the success of the inmate returning to the community. In a study performed by the Bureau of Prisoners (BOP) in 1987 40% of parolees that had been released were either re-arrested or had their parole revoked. In another study conducted in 1989 by the National Institute of Justice found that 62% of 108,580 parolees released from prison in 11 different states during 1983 had been re-arrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within a 3-year period.
47% of these individuals were convicted of a new crime, and 41% were re-incarcerated. 55% of these parolees were also out of work for more than half of the year. Drug abusers make up a big majority of these offenders whose parole is rescinded. Drug offenders account for a 44% increase in the prison population between 1986 and 1991. As you can see these offenders play a huge role in the burdening of the prison system.
In my opinion parole release is not working. More and more criminals are being released without serving there full sentence, and most go right back to jail. The problem is that we are not doing all that we can to rehabilitating them. Rehabilitation and treatment programs that are preparing inmates for re-entry into society are very successful. However, only about 10% of these inmates receive the treatment that they need. It is very alarming that 90% of these inmates do not get the help that they truly need, and it is not the best interest of society to release criminals back into society before they are ready. More than 2 out of 3 will go right back to a life of crime.
Keeping these inmates in prison for their entire sentence does not increase costs when compared to the costs of releasing them on an unsuspecting public. Also, prison populations are not greatly affected by parole as one might think. Until the remaining 90% of these inmates can receive the treatment that they need, it is better for both the public and the inmate for the sentence to be completed as it was first intended. It is just safer for the public and better for the inmate to finish out their sentence.