Measurement of Parole Effectiveness Thesis

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¶ … measurement of parole effectiveness. How does one measure parole effectiveness? For most people, parole effectiveness is measured by how many parolees and probationers remain free from crime and do not return to prison. However, with such a large and diverse parole population, it is extremely difficult to measure the exact amount of parole effectiveness in the United States, and it is extremely difficult to gauge the effectiveness of parole in the future. There are predictors and measurements that apply both to adult and juvenile offenders, and those predictions and measurements will fill the scope of this paper.

Parole can be defined as the release of a prisoner into society earlier than their sentence on the condition that they remain lawful and crime-free in society. They are monitored periodically by a parole officer to ensure they are still crime-free. If they do not remain crime-free, they return to prison for the remainder of their sentence, and they could be resentenced, depending on the infraction. Clearly, parole is an important aspect of the criminal justice system, and it can lead to success and a crime-free life for many individuals. However, many parolees do return to prison, and measuring the success of parole programs across the country indicates there is still much work to be done to perfect the parole systems in the nation.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Thesis on Measurement of Parole Effectiveness Assignment

Parole and probation is growing in this country, and there are numerous federal, state, and local agencies involved in parole efforts, making it a convoluted system at best. One author writes about the sheer numbers of parolees in the country. He notes, "At the end of 2003, some 4.8 million adults were on probation and parole, compared with approximately 2.1 million adults in jail or prison. Seventy percent of the adult correctional population is under the jurisdiction of probation and parole officers" (Burrell, 2004, p. 1). While the numbers of people on parole are growing, parole funding is not - in fact, parole functions usually get only about 10% of criminal justice funding in most state and local budgets (Burrell, 2004, p. 2). This means that caseworkers' workloads are too large, and it is difficult to monitor their offenders, making it more likely they will recidivate in the future.

Measuring the effectiveness of parole is quite complicated, and the results vary widely throughout the criminal population. For example, "Released prisoners with lengthy criminal records and who have been to prison several times before have very high recidivism rates -- over 80% are rearrested within three years of release from prison. In contrast, less than half of first-time releasees and older releasees are rearrested within three years of their release" (National Research Council, 2008, p. 72). Those are staggering numbers when compared to the number of inmates in prison. Clearly, if 80% of those with lengthy criminal records recidivate within three years, there is something wrong with the prison system that is contributing to the lack of parole success.

Measurements show that first-time offenders are less likely to return to prison, but there are researchers who question those statistics, as well. The National Research Council continues, "It also is possible that parole authorities and the police supervise and watch 'two-time losers' more closely or are less willing to overlook any violations of their parole contracts" (National Research Council, 2008, p. 74). Thus, it is clear that many divergent measurements are available, and they do not apply to all parolees and all situations. If there is one constant in the parole system, there are no constants, and this makes it extremely difficult to measure effectiveness efficiently.

One of the most important measures in this quest for effectiveness is time after release. The Council continues, "One of the most significant findings that emerges from our work is that the peak rates for recidivism occur in the days and weeks immediately following release" (National Research Council, 2008, p. 74). The longer a parolee is out and successful, the longer they continue to stay out of prison in many cases, which should point to early attention and support to help keep new parolees from returning to their criminal pasts. For example, most parolees have no homes and jobs to return to, and with no support, they have little choice except to resort to criminal activities. In these high risk parolees, support, such as halfway houses and job skills training could help point them in the right direction and keep them from returning to prison.

Perhaps one of the most important issues in measuring the effectiveness of parole is the lack of real research and study of the problem. The Council notes, "As this review unmistakably demonstrates, the application of scientifically rigorous methods in research and evaluation on community supervision has not been the norm and is only now beginning to emerge" (National Research Council, 2008, p. 81). That means that much measurement is speculation at best, especially when one takes into consideration the many problems associated with measurement that are discussed below in this paper. In addition, there are very few studies of community support projects and other support for parolees, and so, the true effectiveness of these programs really is not known, even though there are strong beliefs they do add to the overall success of the parolee. What is clear, if nothing else is that a lot more study needs to go into effective parole techniques in order to get a true perspective on the measurement of parole effectiveness.

Many parole systems are doomed to failure simply because of high caseloads and lack of community and local support. Studies indicate that parole systems that receive input and support from the community, from religious input to drug and alcohol treatment and support groups. It has been shown that community support helps improve the success rate of parole programs, and that combined with standard parole monitoring procedures, these programs seem to help ensure a lower rate of recidivism in the community.

One of the problems with measuring parole effectiveness is the way different parole systems are managed. Some, with less dangerous parolees, offer monitoring by electronic bracelet or cuff, or the parolees check-in at a kiosk or other location electronically. A parole officer does not personally monitor them, or the officer is seen extremely infrequently. In more serious cases, the parolee checks-in much more frequently, and home visits are part of the plan. It is clear that measuring these different programs with the same parameters would provide very different results, because the frequency and intensity of the monitoring is extremely diverse, and using standard measurements is not effective in all these cases.

Another very valid and difficult problem in measuring effectiveness is the number of parolees who are sent back to prison because of parole violations that do not involve crimes, but instead other parole violations. Another writer notes, "Such violations include meeting with known felons, missing a check-in or meeting with a parole agent, being out after a curfew time, and missing a scheduled drug test. One view is that such violations should not have major consequences, such as return to prison" (National Research Council, 2008, p. 38). If an inmate is returned to prison for one of these offenses, should they be measured in the same numbers as parolees who violate the law, and are returned to prison? It is a difficult question to answer, and it is clear, if these numbers are included in the overall effectiveness, they can markedly add to the results of effectiveness studies.

Measuring the effectiveness of parole begins long before the inmate is released from prison. Many doctors and scientists have developed parole readiness tests and psychological profiles that help to identify inmates who may be the most successful parole candidates. One study indicates that a majority of prison inmates are high-school dropouts, and many are drug addicts, as well. If they kick their drug habits and gain personal development training while in prison, they show a marked improvement in succeeding at parole. A psychological researcher writes, "If parole readiness means that the individual's Personal Development is more like Typical Individuals than it is like that of Prison Inmates, there is a satisfactory indication of parole readiness" (Cassel, 2003). These same indicators can help predict how effective parole will be with the general prison population, and what inmates stand the best chance of succeeding with their parole. That ultimately can help measure parole effectiveness in the future, and statistics can help reinforce the predictors and add new predictors to help the system work more effectively.

It is interesting to note that military parole boards have a much better success rate than other boards, even though they must monitor military parolees around the world. One reason may be they have developed strong parole conditions and monitoring due to the range of area they must monitor, and another is they monitor a fraction of the numbers of parolees that public programs do. The military is committed to creating viable citizens out of their inmates, and so… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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