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Chapter 12. Preparing for Prisoner Reentry: Discretionary Parole and Mandatory Release. Introduction.

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Chapter 12

Chapter 12

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.

    LO: 1

Issues in reentry
Issues in Reentry

  • Successful reentry includes:

    • Prerelease planning

    • Community referrals

    • Quick access to benefit programs and continuity of care

      LO: 1

Issues in reentry con t
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

      LO: 2

The prisoner s family
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
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.

    LO: 2

Reentry and the community
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.

    LO: 2

Community based reentry initiatives
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
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

      LO: 3

Eligibility for parole
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 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

Eligibility dates
Eligibility Dates

  • 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
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.

    LO: 3

Prerelease preparation
Prerelease Preparation

  • 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

      LO: 1

The parole board
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
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

    LO: 3

The parole hearing
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

Victim impact
Victim Impact

  • 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
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

3 models
3 Models

  • 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

        LO: 3

Due process during parole hearings
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.

      LO: 4

Right to attorney
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).

    LO: 4