Chapter 12. Preparing for Prisoner Reentry: Discretionary Parole and Mandatory Release. Introduction.
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Preparing for Prisoner Reentry: Discretionary Parole and Mandatory Release
- Prisoner reentry is any activity or program dedicated to preparing and integrating parolees into the community as law-abiding citizens using a collaborative approach with parole officers, treatment providers and the community.
- More than 95% of incarcerated prisoners will eventually be released: 650,000 every year.
Issues in Reentry
- Successful reentry includes:
- Prerelease planning
- Community referrals
- Quick access to benefit programs and continuity of care
Issues in Reentry, Con’t.
- Challenges for recently-released ex-offenders include:
- Being indigent, but still requiring medications
- Being given a list of referrals versus having the appointments made for them
- Finding suitable employment, housing and staying clean of illegal drugs
The Prisoner’s Family
- The prisoner’s family suffers during the period of confinement with the stigma of having a loved one behind bars
- The prisoner’s family plays a vital role in reentry, yet only 25% of prisoners have someone to meet them at release
- Reentry requires family ties to be reestablished or mended LO: 2
The Victim’s Role in Reentry
- Most victims are an intimate or an acquaintance of the offender.
- The offender has a responsibility to repair the harm done to the victim and the community.
- Discretionary parole is viewed as safer for the victim than releasing prisoners to the community without supervision.
Reentry and the Community
- Certain areas of cities receive a disproportionate number of parolees and have a high amount of unemployment, drugs and instability and disorganization
- Some believe that reentry should encompass restorative justice and civic community service in a model of civic engagement if the community is willing to accept offenders returning to their communities.
Community-Based Reentry Initiatives
- Other reentry initiatives are to allow employers who hire parolees and ex-felons to receive federal tax credits after the employee has worked a certain amount of time or has earned a certain amount of money.
- Reentry courts are a collaborative, team-based program that occurs after prison to improve the link between parole supervision and treatment providers. LO: 2
Types of Reentry
- The different types of reentry result from either determinate or indeterminate sentencing structures
- Determinate sentencing results in automatic or mandatory release
- Indeterminate sentencing results in discretionary release by a parole board
Eligibility for Parole
- The first step in the reentry process is the eligibility of the offender for parole consideration.
- Some inmates are permanently ineligible for parole.
- Parole eligibility is determined by a combination of calendar days served and good time days earned. LO: 3
Parole Board Functions
- Parole boards have four basic functions:
- To decide when prisoners should be released
- To determine any special conditions of parole supervision
- To successfully discharge the parolee when conditions have been met
- To determine whether parole privileges should be revoked if the conditions are violated
- In addition, some parole boards are involved with executive clemency decisions LO: 3
- The minimum eligibility date is the shortest amount of time defined by statute that must be served before an inmate is considered for parole by the parole board.
- The maximum eligibility date is the longest amount of time that can be served before the inmate must be released. LO: 3
Time Sheets and Eligibility Dates
- Good time (or “gain time”) is awarded for institutional good conduct and may be lost for misbehavior.
- Parole eligibility dates vary from state to state and offense-type to offense-type.
- A prerelease facility is a minimum security program that houses inmates with good institutional conduct who are within 2 years of release.
- A prerelease plan includes a summary of institutional conduct and program participation as well as plans for housing and employment upon release, and:
- Increases an offender’s chances of parole
- Saves time during the parole hearing
- Reflects ties in the community that will assist in reentry
The Parole Board
- Parole boards average 7 members, ranging from 3 to 19 in number.
- Most release decisions are made by panels of three members.
- Crimes of a violent or sexual nature may require a full board review.
- In most states that retain parole boards, the governor appoints members for an average of 5 years, with varying qualifications. LO: 3
Parole Boards Have 4 Basic Functions:
- To decide when individual prisoners should be released
- To determine any special conditions of parole supervision
- To successfully discharge the parolee when the conditions have been met
- To determine whether parole privileges should be revoked or should the conditions be violated
The Parole Hearing
- The options for parole decision makers are:
- Grant parole, resulting in conditional release
- Deny parole, resulting in continued imprisonment
- Defer to a later date, resulting in a delay of the grant or deny decision, typically by 6 months to a year
- The sentencing judge, prosecutor and defense attorney often provide recommendations. LO: 3
- A victim impact statement mentions how the crime has taken a toll physically, emotionally, financially, and/or psychologically on the victim and the victim’s family.
- Parole was refused in 43% of cases in which victim impact statements were present, but only 7% of cases were denied when victim statements were absent. LO: 2
Models of Parole Release Decisions
- Statutes typically direct parole boards to base their decisions on:
- The probability of recidivism
- The welfare of society
- The conduct of the offender while incarcerated
- The sufficiency of the parole plan LO: 3
- The models guiding parole decision making are:
- The surveillance model
- “an attempt to control “the dangerous classes”
- The procedural justice model
- Advocates fairness and legal factors, i.e., guidelines
- The risk prediction model
- Utilizes offense severity and risk of recidivism, resulting in the salient factor score
Due Process During Parole Hearings
- Menechino v. Oswald (1971)
- The Supreme Court ruled that parole was a privilege not a right.
- Greenholtz v. Inmates of the Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex (1979)
- Established minimal due process protections in the parole granting process.
Right to Attorney
- Prisoners seeking parole do not have the right to be represented by counsel.
- While a lawyer is welcome to attend in support of the prisoner, the lawyer may not represent or talk for a prisoner during a parole hearing (Franciosi v. Michigan Parole Board 2000).