Incentive institutions are an important type of legal incentive in penitentiary law. Among all types of release from punishment, the most widely used was conditional early release. Clear et al. (2017) note that currently about 77% of convicts are released on parole and remain under correctional supervision. Parole is aimed at individualizing punishment, taking into account the nature of the deed and the reality of correction and re-education of the convicted person. Nevertheless, parole is a controversial phenomenon because, despite its benignant goals, it is not sufficiently effective and socially supported, which indicates its failure.
Parole is an important incentive for convicts to comply with the established regime of serving sentences. Moreover, it contributes to the achievement of the goals of special warning and consolidation of the results of educational work in correctional institutions. However, parole, especially for persons convicted of serious and particularly serious crimes, as well as persons serving life sentences, is a controversial aspect. According to Clear et al. (2017), the inappropriate use of parole has the opposite effect. Among them are a feeling of impunity in a person released without sufficient grounds, and an increase in the likelihood of committing a new crime. In this regard, the possibility of applying to a person who has committed an offense on parole depends on such factors as repentance and admission of guilt by the convicted person, the number of convictions, their severity, and the presence of violations of the regime during the term of serving the sentence, physical, mental and emotional health, and connection with family and friends. Thus, inmates are subject to parole in individual cases.
When considering parole, it is important to understand the difference between mandatory and discretionary release. Discretionary releases are those cases in which the issue of exemption from criminal liability is decided in each specific case, subject to sustainable lawful behavior. On the contrary, mandatory release implies the automatic release of prisoners after they have served a specific term in prison, enshrined in the sources of criminal law.
Based on dilemmas and trends in the corrections system, the prospects for this type of release look disappointing. Moreover, Anderson (2019) states that 65% of parolees will be rearrested within three years. This is consistent with the finding of Chamberlain et al. (2018) that parole not only does not reduce recidivism but increases it. This allows us to say that the institution of parole, in the existing judicial practice, does not perform the function of correcting convicts in full. Moreover, public distrust of offenders leads to discrimination. Therefore, the above trends indicate the insolvency of parole.
After parole, convicts face some problems. Society is not interested in accepting a former criminal into its ranks. The problem of housing is in the first place for the convicts, it is of paramount importance since many have lost relations with relatives and there have been changes in family relations. As for employment, employers refuse to hire convicts not only because of their criminal past, but also because of their lack of experience and low professional qualifications. Equally significant is the problem of addiction, which worsens after release.
In this regard, resocialization programs are of particular importance, which must be adopted already at the stage of admission of a person to a correctional institution. Thus, it is important to teach convicts to obey the laws, to be responsible for their actions, and to ensure their existence. Clear et al. (2017) notes that minimizing the difference between life in prison and life outside can prevent complete personality breakdown, reduce recidivism, and minimize post-release problems. Moreover, it is important to involve convicts in labor activities, schooling, and vocational training. Training in modern specialties that are in demand by society contributes to the rapid adaptation of the convict after parole. Thus, working with convicts at the stage of their entry into a correctional institution is the best method of solving problems after release.
As an example, consider the parole system in Arizona. In 2019, there were 54,921 inmates in Arizona, 7,114 of whom were on parole (Arizona 2019, 2019). In Arizona, some conditions must be met for a parole decision to be made. These include regular meetings with a parole officer, community service, regular drug testing, participation in designated resocialization programs, compensation to victims, and non-participation in criminal activities. Thus, parole is a common convict incentive in Arizona, applied to one in eight convicts.
The future of parole seems obscure. On the one hand, the goal of parole, which is to stimulate the correction of convicts and their resocialization, is admirable. On the other hand, there is the problem of recidivism and the negative attitude of society towards offenders. In this regard, as the number of recidivists increases, it is necessary to make changes in the way offenders are treated to eliminate the fear of society. Until rehabilitation and recovery measures are improved, cases of recidivism will inevitably occur again and again. In this regard, criminal justice systems are in need of reform and given the current state of the art, the future of parole is blurred and vague.
Therefore, although the parole is one of the most important incentive institutions for convicts it is still not very successful. The general purpose of the institution of release from punishment is that there is no need to apply a full criminal punishment to the convicted person, the social significance of which is to save measures of criminal repression and stimulate the correction of the person. However, despite the potential benefits, this incentive was not fully implemented due to public contempt, as well as statistics showing that parole does not reduce recidivism. Thus, this phenomenon requires further consideration and improvement.
Anderson, J. L. (2019). Recidivism of paroled murderers as a factor in the utility of life imprisonment. Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 31(2), 255-268.
Arizona 2019. (2019). National Institute of Corrections. Web.
Chamberlain, A. W., Gricius, M., Wallace, D. M., Borjas, D., & Ware, V. M. (2018). Parolee–parole officer rapport: Does it impact recidivism? International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 62(11), 3581-3602.
Clear, T. R., Reisig, M.D., Petrosino, C., & Cole, G. F. (2017). American corrections in brief (3rd ed.). Cengage Learning.
How does parole work for Arizona state prisoners? (2022). Todd Coolidge Law Firm. Web.