Clemency, Parole, Good-Time Credits, and Crowded Prisons: Reconsidering Early Release
44 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2013
Date Written: July 29, 2013
For most of our history, clemency, parole, and good-time credits have offered prisoners an opportunity for early release. Over the last 40 years, however, clemency has fallen into disuse, and many jurisdictions have repealed their parole laws in favor of determinate sentencing. Given our increasingly crowded prisons and expanding correctional budgets, governments are beginning to rethink our approach to punishment. It is unlikely that clemency or parole will come back into fashion any time soon, however, or that severe sentencing laws will quickly disappear. But the federal and state governments have continued to use good-time credits as a means of rewarding inmates for positive, in-prison behavior, and legislators may believe that expanding the current good-time laws is the best solution. That approach is reasonable as a policy matter and sellable as a political matter because prisoners must earn good time credits. We therefore may see legislators seek to address prison overcrowding through an expanded good-time system.
Keywords: clemency, parole, good-time credit, early release
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