Parole Release and Supervision: Critical Drivers of American Prison Policy

Posted: 16 Jan 2020

See all articles by Kevin R Reitz

Kevin R Reitz

University of Minnesota Law School; Robina Institute of Criminal Law & Criminal Justice

Edward Rhine

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Sociology; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

Decisions tied to parole release, supervision, and revocation are major determinants of the ebb and flow of prison populations across two-thirds of US states. We argue that parole release, as an institution, has been an underacknowledged force in American incarceration and reincarceration policy and an important contributor to the nation's buildup to mass incarceration. In paroling states, no court or state agency holds greater power than parole boards over time actually served by the majority of offenders sent to prison. We examine the leverage exercised by parole boards through their discretionary release decisions and their powers to sanction violators of parole conditions. We note the state-by-state diversity and complexity associated with parole-release decisions and the absence of successful state systems that might serve as a model for other jurisdictions. We highlight the procedural shortfalls universally associated with parole decision-making. We discuss the long reach of parole supervision and the pains it imposes on those subject to its jurisdiction, including the substantial financial burdens levied on parolees. We then turn to the prospects for parole reform and outline a comprehensive blueprint for improving parole release in America.

Suggested Citation

Reitz, Kevin R and Rhine, Edward, Parole Release and Supervision: Critical Drivers of American Prison Policy (January 2020). Annual Review of Criminology, Vol. 3, pp. 281-298, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3519758 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-criminol-011419-041416

Kevin R Reitz

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-626-3078 (Phone)

Robina Institute of Criminal Law & Criminal Justice ( email )

University of Minnesota Law School
229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Edward Rhine (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Sociology

Columbus, OH 43210-1172
United States

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice ( email )

University of Minnesota Law School
229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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