What is Parole in Prison? Understanding the Basics
If you’ve ever watched a crime movie or TV show, you might have heard the term “parole.” But what exactly is it? Parole is a form of early release from prison granted to inmates who meet certain criteria. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what parole is, how it works, and what its benefits and drawbacks are.
What is Parole?
Parole is a process by which inmates who have been sentenced to prison are released before the end of their sentence. This release is conditional, and inmates must meet certain requirements to remain out of prison. If they violate the terms of their parole, they can be sent back to prison.
The History of Parole
The concept of parole has its roots in 19th-century England. It was introduced as a way to reduce prison overcrowding and help ease the transition of inmates back into society. The idea was that by granting early release to well-behaved inmates, the prison system could focus its resources on the most dangerous criminals.
The first parole system in the United States was introduced in New York in 1876. By the early 20th century, most states had some form of parole system in place.
How Does Parole Work?
In order to be considered for parole, inmates must first serve a certain amount of time in prison. The length of time varies depending on the crime and the state in which the inmate is incarcerated.
Once an inmate is eligible for parole, a parole board will review their case and determine whether or not to grant them parole. The board will consider factors such as the inmate’s behavior in prison, their criminal history, and their plans for re-entering society.
If parole is granted, the inmate will be released from prison and must abide by certain conditions. These conditions may include things like attending counseling sessions, finding a job, and staying away from drugs and alcohol. If the inmate violates any of these conditions, they can be sent back to prison.
The Criteria for Parole
In order to be considered for parole, inmates must meet certain criteria. These criteria may vary depending on the state and the specific circumstances of the inmate’s case, but they typically include things like:
- The length of time served in prison
- The severity of the crime
- The inmate’s behavior in prison
- The inmate’s criminal history
- The inmate’s plans for re-entering society
The Benefits of Parole
There are several benefits to the parole system. For one, it allows well-behaved inmates to be released from prison early, which can help reduce prison overcrowding. Additionally, it gives inmates a second chance to re-enter society and make a positive contribution. Finally, it can help save taxpayers money, as it costs less to supervise an inmate on parole than it does to keep them in prison.
The Drawbacks of Parole
While there are certainly benefits to the parole system, there are also some drawbacks. For one, there is always the risk that an inmate on parole will commit another crime. Additionally, some people argue that parole can be too lenient on criminals and that they should serve their entire sentence. Others argue that the conditions of parole can be too restrictive, making it difficult for inmates to successfully reintegrate into society.
The Parole Process
The parole process varies depending on the state and the specific circumstances of the inmate’s case. However, in general, the process involves the following steps:
- Inmate becomes eligible for parole
- Parole board reviews the inmate’s case
- Parole board makes a decision on whether or not to grant parole
- If parole is granted, the inmate is released from prison and must abide by certain conditions
- If the inmate violates any of these conditions, they can be sent back to prison
Parole vs. Probation
While parole and probation are both forms of early release from prison, they are different in a number of ways. Probation is typically granted to offenders who have been sentenced to a term of probation instead of prison time. They are required to meet certain conditions, such as staying away from drugs and alcohol and attending counseling sessions.
Parole, on the other hand, is granted to inmates who have already served time in prison. They are released early but must meet certain conditions in order to remain out of prison.
Parole and Recidivism
Recidivism is the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend. While some people argue that parole can lead to increased recidivism rates, others believe that it can actually help reduce them. By providing inmates with support and resources to successfully re-enter society, they are less likely to turn back to a life of crime.
The Future of Parole
The future of parole is uncertain, but many experts believe that it will continue to play a role in the criminal justice system. However, there may be changes to the system in the coming years, such as an increased focus on rehabilitation and support for inmates on parole.
Parole Around the World
The concept of parole is not unique to the United States. Many countries around the world have their own systems in place, although they may vary in terms of their criteria and processes.
Famous Cases of Parole
There have been many famous cases of inmates being granted parole over the years. Some of the most well-known include O.J. Simpson, Charles Manson, and John Hinckley Jr.
The Controversy Surrounding Parole
As with many aspects of the criminal justice system, there is controversy surrounding the parole system. Some people argue that it is too lenient on criminals, while others believe that it can be too restrictive on those who are trying to re-enter society.
Frequently Asked Questions About Parole
What is the difference between parole and probation?
The main difference between parole and probation is that probation is a sentence given to a convicted criminal that allows them to remain in the community under supervision, while parole is an early release from prison granted to inmates who have served a portion of their sentence. Probation is a form of punishment, while parole is a form of rehabilitation and re-entry into society.
How does the parole board decide whether or not to grant parole?
The parole board decides whether or not to grant parole by reviewing the inmate’s case and considering factors such as the severity of the crime, the inmate’s behavior in prison, their criminal history, and their plans for re-entering society. The board will also consider any opposition to the inmate’s release, such as from the victim or their family.
What are the benefits of the parole system?
The benefits of the parole system include reducing prison overcrowding, giving inmates a second chance to re-enter society, and saving taxpayers money by reducing the cost of incarceration. Additionally, parole can help reduce recidivism rates by providing inmates with support and resources to successfully reintegrate into society.
Are inmates on parole more likely to reoffend?
Inmates on parole are statistically more likely to reoffend than those who serve their full sentence in prison. However, this is not necessarily due to the parole system itself but rather the challenges that come with re-entering society, such as finding employment and stable housing.
Can inmates on parole travel outside of the state?
Whether or not an inmate on parole can travel outside of the state depends on the specific conditions of their parole. In general, if the inmate wants to travel outside of the state, they will need to get permission from their parole officer and may need to provide details about their travel plans and accommodations. Some states may also have specific restrictions on travel for inmates on parole.
In conclusion, parole is a form of early release from prison that can be granted to inmates who meet certain criteria. While there are certainly benefits to the system, there are also some drawbacks and controversies surrounding it. However, with the right support and resources, parole can be a valuable tool for helping inmates successfully re-enter society.