The Failure of Parole: Rethinking the Role of the State in Reentry
46 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2012
Date Written: April 3, 2011
In this paper, I analyze the effect of parole on reentry and challenge the dominant governmental approach to post-release reentry. One of the features of current reentry policy is that many states rely on their parole or post-prison supervision agencies to provide post-release reentry services. In the paper, I argue that the changing nature of parole supervision over the last forty years, specifically the shift from a casework approach to a surveillance approach, should lead policymakers to rethink this approach. Relying on interviews I conducted with people on parole in New York City as well as prior research on parole outcomes, I examine the effect of parole on reentry. Jeremy Travis has argued that reentry has two goals — promoting public safety and promoting reintegration of former prisoners. I conclude that parole fails at both of these goals and in fact can sometimes hinder the reentry process. Accordingly, I argue that parole agencies should not be providing post-release reentry services and suggest an alternative approach for states to consider. In particular, I suggest that reentry outcomes could be improved by separating the surveillance and monitoring aspects of parole from its reentry aspects.
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