Enacted: Jan 1987
The purpose of parole is to improve public safety by reducing the incidence and impact of crime committed by parolees. Parole is not leniency or clemency but a logical extension of the sentence to provide the opportunity to return offenders to society as productive and law-abiding citizens after a reasonable period of incarceration and at a time when they are assessed to have the capability and desire to succeed and live up to the responsibilities inherent in such a release. Conditions of parole and supervision services provided to conditionally released offenders are means by which the parole authority can assist the offender to successfully reintegrate into the community while providing a continuing measure of protection to society. The core services of parole are: to provide investigation and reports to the parole authority, to help offenders develop appropriate release plans and to supervise those persons released on parole. Parole authorities and supporting correctional agencies, in addition to fulfilling these responsibilities, may provide a wide variety of supporting pre-release and post-release programs and services, such as employment and life skills counseling, halfway house accommodation, counseling services, specialized community work programs and family services. PAROLE IS A CRITICAL ELEMENT OF THE FELONY SENTENCE AND SHOULD NOT BE ABRIDGED OR ABOLISHED.
The mission of parole is to prepare, select and assist offenders who, after a reasonable period of incarceration, could benefit from an early release while, at the same time, ensuring an appropriate level of public protection through conditions of parole and provision of supervision services. This is accomplished by:
- assisting the parole authority in decision making and the enforcement of parole conditions;
- providing pre-release and post-release services and programs that will support offenders in successfully reintegrating into the community;
- working cooperatively with all sectors of the criminal justice system to ensure the development and attainment of mutual objectives.
Parole is premised upon the following beliefs:
The majority of incarcerated offenders can benefit from a period of transition into the community prior to completion of their sentence. While incarceration is necessary in many cases to ensure protection of society, to act as a deterrent to criminal activity and as a punishment for criminal acts, it is limited in its ability to prepare offenders for return to the free world. Parole is a means of allowing for a period of transition, testing and assistance, which affords a continuing measure of protection to the public while supporting the individual offender in establishing himself or herself as a productive and law-abiding member of the community.
The protection of society is a primary objective of conditional release. Although parole supports conditional release of offenders prior to completion of their sentence, parole also supports the use of restrictions (imposed as conditions) and, where necessary, termination of the release where the offender is not assessed to be abiding by the conditions of release and/or the potential for renewed criminal activity is felt to be high.
Not all offenders have the same potential and motivation to benefit from conditional release. Each offender must be judged on his or her own merits. Similarity of offense, sentence length and background, while important considerations, must be viewed in the total context of a complete assessment of the individual. Risk evaluation and selection criteria may be used successfully by many parole authorities, but it is fundamental that each individual offender be assessed on the basis of complete and comprehensive information about his or her circumstances. This is important not only in relation to the release decision but also in relation to the conditions and services determined to be required upon release.
Community services available to all citizens should be utilized wherever possible, but specialized services for some offenders are necessary to meet special needs. As parole involves the reintegration of the offender into society, the offender should be encouraged to utilize available opportunities for socialization, support and assistance which already exist in the community. However, the community cannot be expected to provide the support and assistance that will meet all the special needs of all conditionally released offenders. Parole services should identify and provide, wherever possible, for specialized post-release programs which meet such needs.
Society benefits from a successful parole program. Most incarcerated offenders eventually complete their sentence and return to the community. Given that incarceration is limited by definition in its ability to promote successful reintegration of ex-offenders as productive members of the community, parole can provide a positive means of promoting successful reintegration. It results in reducing unnecessary expenditures for continued incarceration while, at the same time, maintaining an appropriate degree of supervision and control to ensure continued protection of society.