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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 120670 Find in a Library
Title: Parole: Issues and Prospects for the 1990s
Journal: Corrections Today  Volume:51  Issue:7  Dated:(December 1989)  Pages:78-83,146-147
Author(s): E E Rhine; W R Smith; R W Jackson; L G Rupp
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 8
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Parole authorities must address three issues in order to contribute to effective criminal justice policy: the threat to the integrity of parole decision-making posed by prison overcrowding; the next wave of sentencing reform which is likely to link sentencing policy to prison capacity; and public opposition to parole in sensitive cases, with some support for rehabilitative intervention.
Abstract: The concept of "earned" parole has been lost both through the use of Emergency Powers Acts (EPAs), which were designed as short-term options to address prison crowding, and adjustments in parole guidelines so as not to exceed a certain prison population level. In the 1970s, States began to change their sentencing policies from indeterminate codes, giving parole boards broad powers of discretion, to determinate sentencing schemes that are devoid of faith in rehabilitation. The number of inmates on parole has decreased dramatically, while the percentage of supervised mandatory releasees from prison has increased. However, prison crowding has led to early releases for many inmates, and fiscal constraints have become a primary determinant of sentencing policy. Public attitudes may not be as harsh as depicted in the press. Citizens' first priority is protecting public safety and rehabilitative programs are often supported if they do not jeopardize safety. While the majority of the public supports parole to some degree, the opposition is vocal and well-organized. Parole boards will need to place limits on their discretion and possibly consider accreditation to enhance their legitimacy. They must become active participants in managing the State's correctional resources while maintaining the integrity of their decisions. While the long-term trend has been to separate parole supervision from parole authorities, there is now strong support for merging supervision with release and revocation. Statutory qualifications for parole board members would increase their professionalism. Parole boards must also work with corrections officials to create prison program stressing coping skills and pre-release training. 14 references.
Main Term(s): Parole board discretion; Probation or parole decisionmaking
Index Term(s): Public Opinion of Corrections; State parole guidelines
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