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Parole, Desistance from Crime, and Community Integration
ence today is that these partnerships are forged at a higher level and are more formal.
The Urban Institute recently published an excellent report summarizing several ongoing law enforcement programs designed to positively affect prisoner reentry (La Vigne et al., 2006).
While parole officers in some agencies may arrest individuals, particularly for noncriminal violations of specific parole conditions, other officers may elect to have sworn police officers make such arrests, and some agencies require it. Federal probation and parole officers are, by policy, directed not to execute warrants.
RULES FOR RELEASEES
The goal of parole supervision (or other forms of supervised release) is to enable and require prison releasees to live law-abiding lives in the community. As just discussed, both services and supervision are part of parole. Supervision includes rules, and rules necessarily have sanctions for violations. A key question in enforcing rules in any situation is the role of incentives and disincentives: What is the proper balance between incentives to reward good behavior and sanctions to punish bad behavior? Since the ultimate goal of parole supervision is to prevent releasees from committing new offenses, the rules of parole should be demonstrably linked to reducing the risk of new offenses. Unfortunately, we know little from research about whether rules of parole are linked to less offending (Solomon et al., 2005).
A major issue in parole involves violations of the specific conditions of parole (the parole contract) that do not involve criminal offenses. Such violations include meeting with known felons, missing a check-in or meeting with a parole agent, being out after a curfew time, and missing a scheduled drug test. One view is that such violations should not have major consequences, such as return to prison. In this view, unless there is a pattern of violations or absconding from supervision that signals a releasee’s refusal to take the supervision relationship seriously, parole sanctions need not, and in general, should not involve revocation of parole and return to prison. (This approach does not involve conduct that would be prosecuted if committed by an ordinary citizen, though presumably that would be a new offense.) The underlying assumption of this approach is that less drastic sanctions, if delivered quickly and predictably, can control a parolee’s behavior and enhance the prospects for long-term success.
The contrary view is that some violations, even of a procedural nature, are significant signs that a parolee is not respecting the terms of the parole contract—is not attempting to live as a law-abiding citizen—and so should