Parole (early release from prison) is often referred to as the back door to the US corrections system. The concept of parole dates back to the establishment of the Elmira Reformatory. The goal of the Elmira Reformatory was to rehabilitate and reform the criminal instead of following the traditional method of silence, obedience, and labor. Parole was originally set up to encourage prisoners to do well, keep their noses clean, and become model prisoners. Once a prisoner had shown rehabilitation and reform they were released prior to the execution of their full sentence.
Before a prisoner can be released on parole he/she must meet before a parole board. Each prison with a parole system is set up with one of two types of parole services. Service one is the independent model. Like its name says it is independent, independent from any other state agency. Meaning that it’s parole officers do not work for the corrections system. This enables them to be more bias and fair with their decisions. Service two is the consolidated model. This model is ran by the corrections system and is under the direction of the commissioner of corrections.
The consolidated model does not give its members the ability to be bias. They have to bite their tongues in some instances as to not ruffle the feathers of those appointed over them. No matter which model is in place if not used correctly it is a failure. In most states the members of the parole board are appointed by the governor and serve a term of up to six years. Each board is set up with one to three members. These members are among others in institutional side of the parole system. The job of these members is to determine whether or not the inmate up for parole is suitable for release.
Before an inmate comes before the parole board there are procedures that must happen. The first thing that happens is the inmate’s name will appear on a computer-generated list. The victims will be notified of the possible parole. The list of names is sent to the Transitional Planning Department. At the TPD a case manager will be assigned to interview the inmate and find out his/her plan for parole. This plan is filed and is sent to the parole board. The parole board then interviews the inmate and will vote on the case. If parole is granted the prison officials will prepare the inmate for release.
However if parole is denied the inmate will be given a conditional release date which is usually within one to three years where the process will start all over. In order to determine whether or not the inmate is suitable for parole the board will review his/her record. This record has past convictions, education obtained, prior employment, and behavior in prison among other things. The way that the system is set up only those who have been reformed and rehabilitated and serve as no threat to society will be released. In theory this is an excellent system if used right.
However in today’s society we do not have the resources or facilities to use this system properly. We would like to think that we are drawing from the concepts set forth by the Elmira Reformatory. We wish to reform our criminals vice warehouse them. What was a good idea in the days of Elmira may not be such a good idea today. Parole, over the years, has become a tool to assist with the problem of prison overcrowding rather than its original purpose. In order to make space for more violent criminals we, society, has deemed it ok to release less violent criminals.
In doing this we have instilled in the minds of the people that if caught and convicted that they will never serve then entire sentence. It is a joke that if you are sentenced to eight years that you will probably get out in two with good behavior. If this person has committed a crime that deserves a sentence of eight years then make that person serve the full eight. Parole is a joke. The system for parole today is far different from the years of Elmira. The day that parole became a tool used to assist in overcrowding it became an ineffective system.
Any system that puts convicted criminal on the street to make room for other convicted criminals is not a system that works. Parole should be abolished and a new system for reform should be installed. This new system should go back and reflect upon the ideas of the Elmira system. Prisoners should only be released if they have fully rehabilitated themselves. A mandatory of seventy-five percent of the sentence should be served before anyone is even looked at for parole. If you have committed and infractions while in prison then you do not qualify for parole. Parole is a privilage and not a right.