Parole Release Hearings: The Fallacy of Discretion
5 Thurgood Marshall School of Law Journal on Gender, Race & Justice 1 (2015)
25 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2015 Last revised: 1 May 2015
Date Written: February 12, 2015
Despite nearly every U.S. state having created a parole system, incarcerated offenders do not have a constitutional right to early release on parole, and parole hearings do not automatically invoke due process. The resultant discretion afforded to parole decision-makers, coupled with the administrative regime’s relaxed evidentiary standards, risks erroneous, vindictive, or politically motivated information tainting release decisions. Louisiana, the world’s prison capital, has recently initiated parole reforms that may provide a model for reforms in other states. This article details the evolution of Louisiana’s parole release structures, highlights problems with discretionary parole-release decision-making, and proposes Louisiana pilot reforms that may transfer to other states.
Keywords: parole, criminal law, law, mass incarceration, justice, Louisiana, parole committee, due process, constitutional law, administrative law, prison
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