December 21, 2004

Parole and Recidivism

Interesting statistic on prisons and prisoners. According to a 2002 Department of Justice study on recidivism, of the 51.8 percent of ex-convicts who returned to prison, more than half (26.4 percent) are sent back not for committing a new crime, but rather for violating one or more conditions of their parole. (Which includes technical violations, like failing to secure a job, or what have you.)

I'd like to look into this more, but it's my understanding that parole agencies tend to be wildly underfunded relative to the rest of the corrections system, no? And not only that, but they tend to come under a lot of pressure from the public—especially after Willie Horton, no one wants to be the parole officer who "let one get away". So it would stand to reason that parole officers and post-release supervisors tend to hit the red button and send their violators back to prison immediately, rather than seek out some alternative form of treatment.

This also seems like a relatively simple problem to fix—or at least improve.
-- Brad Plumer 6:40 PM || ||