Parole and probation are types of sentencing that are used in the United States. Parole involves the release of an offender before serving their full sentence in jail. On the other hand, probation is an alternative to a jail sentence that involves the supervision of an offender for a specific period. Parole and probation are significant because they lower the costs of operating correctional facilities, reduce recidivism, improve public safety, and reduce overcrowding in prisons. High costs of operation have led to the closure of 35 prisons in the U.S. Parole is significant because it facilitates rehabilitation of offenders before they are released back into the community. Probation gives offenders an opportunity to shun crime and change their lives.
Probation is an alternative to a prison sentence that involves the supervision of an offender for a certain period (Worth, 2001). In the United States, it is a common type of punishment awarded to prisoners convicted of petty crimes. According to research, more than 60% of individuals convicted of petty crimes are usually put on probation. On the other hand, parole is the act of releasing offenders who have served a portion of his/her sentence in prison to serve the remaining time under supervision (Abadinsky, 2014). Parole and probation have several benefits compared to having prisoners serve their whole sentences in prison. Parole and probation were introduced to deal with the high number of incarceration. The available correctional facilities could not hold the high number of prisoners. Benefits of probation and parole include reduction of recidivism, reduction of overcrowding in prisons, reduction of costs, and better rehabilitation of offenders.
Improvement of public safety
One of the most important roles of parole and probation is to improve public safety. Parole reduces the incidence and prevalence of crime committed by parolees through constant monitoring and behavioral changes. In addition, it gives offenders an opportunity to become integrated into society after serving part of their sentence in prison. Criminals are released after a period of assessment and evaluation that determines whether they are fit to be released into the community. On the other hand, parole helps prisoners to rebuild their lives and become law-abiding citizens (Abadinsky, 2014). Parole involves three main forms that include placement in residential facilities, electronic monitoring, and release into the community. Before the release of an offender, the Board of Parole and Probation determine the best form of release in order to avoid endangering the lives of citizens in case of offender reverts to crime (Petersilia, 2002). The board determines the release conditions in order to reduce the risk of compromising the safety of citizens. Parole and probation are ways that allow offenders to make restitution for their criminal activities.
In every community, there are community release and supervision centers that facilitate the monitoring of offenders (Petersilia, 2002). Parole and probation are successful because of the conditions and requirements that offenders are required to adhere to after their release. Some criminals are authorized to wear GPs tracking devices while others are visited daily by supervisors. Daily visits are important because they ensure that offenders follow the requirements of their release (Champion, 2005) visit others. These measures are developed to improve the safety of citizens. A report released by the U.S. Department of Justice Statistics revealed that the success rate of parole and probation is 47% (Abadinsky, 2014). Many criminals incarcerated on drug-related offenses reform after probation or parole. However, others go back to their old ways and continue to start dealing in drugs again. Such criminals are denied parole in case they are convicted again.
Reduction of overcrowding in prisons
Another benefit of parole and probation is the reduction of overcrowding in correctional facilities (Champion, 2005). Overcrowding in prisons is caused by factors that include harsh penalties crimes, enactment of laws that make actions that were previously legal illegal, high rates of recidivism, and high rates of crime (Worth, 2001). Few research studies have been conducted to determine whether overcrowding has negative effects on inmates. However, overcrowding is a growing concern that the federal government needs to address. Some causes of overcrowding include psychological problems, high rates of violence among inmates, and poor prison management. Overcrowding increases stressful situations among prisoners and staff members (Champion, 2005). This results in inappropriate treatment of prisoners by prison staff. Parole and probation are effective means of reducing overcrowding in prisons. Parole reduces the length of stay while probation reduces the admission of criminals into correctional facilities. In order to avoid the aforementioned effects of overcrowding, parole and probation should be encouraged in order to enhance the rehabilitation of non-violent offenders whose release does not pose security threats to society (Petersilia, 2002).
According to government statistics, the cost of maintaining prisons is more than $68 billion every year (Petersilia, 2002). The costs are projected to rise owing to high rates of incarceration in the U.S. Statistics reveal that in the last four decades, the rate of incarceration has increased by approximately 350 percent (Abadinsky, 2014). The high rate of incarceration has been caused by the introduction of new policies by the criminal justice system. The high number of incarcerations has resulted in increased costs. These high costs exert great pressure on the financial situations of taxpayers (Champion, 2005). The high costs have a negative effect on the economy. A report released by the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that the cost of maintaining and housing one prisoner is between $22,000 and $25,000 annually (Abadinsky, 2014). Since 2001, the cost of housing and feeding inmates has increased by 34%. In certain states, prisons have been shut down due to the rising costs of incarceration. For instance, 35 correctional facilities have been shut down (Abadinsky, 2014). The number of prisoners is also growing. For instance, in 2012, the number of prisoners in the U.S. was approximately 219,000 (Abadinsky, 2014). It is important for state governments and federal governments to encourage parole and probation because they create space in correctional facilities to house violent criminals (Worth, 2001).
Reduction of recidivism
Research has shown that parole and probation reduce the rate of recidivism. Recidivism refers to the act of repeating a behavior that has unfavorable consequences (Carmen, 2006). Skills and practices that provide positive results with regard to parole and probation include prosocial modeling and reinforcement, problem-solving, use of cognitive techniques, and development of mutual relationships between offenders and supervisors (Petersilia, 2002). Prosocial modeling and reinforcement involve inculcating values such as fairness, honesty, responsibility, accountability, and reliability into offenders. It also involves reinforcing activities that encourage offenders to develop the aforementioned values. Supervising officers challenge the actions of offenders in order to encourage a change of attitude. The development of problem-solving techniques is another method used in reducing recidivism. Individuals under parole and probation are taught techniques that are useful in solving problems that can prompt them to commit crimes. For instance, common problems among criminals include drugs, lack of accommodation, and family issues. Offenders learn ways to solve these problems within the precincts of the law. The use of cognitive techniques involves teaching offenders to identify and deal with behaviors and emotions that result prompt them to commit a crime (Petersilia, 2002). Cognitive techniques are highly effective in reducing recidivism among offenders. Applying the aforementioned techniques is important in the reduction of recidivism. Low rates of recidivism increase the safety of citizens and improve the lives of offenders on probation and parole.
Parole is the release of an offender from a correctional facility after serving part of their sentence. The remainder of the sentence is served in residential facilities, communities, or their houses under electronic monitoring. On the other hand, probation refers to an alternative to prison sentencing that involves the supervision of an offender for a certain period. Parole and probation are significant because they reduce overcrowding in correctional facilities, reduce costs of operating prisons, improve public safety, and reduce recidivism. On the other hand, they give offenders an opportunity to change their lives and live as law-abiding citizens. Research has shown that parole and probation have a 48% success rate. As the penal code continues to undergo changes and the rate of incarceration rises, it is imperative to embrace probation and parole as alternatives to jail sentences. It is important for state governments to embrace parole and probation in order to cut costs and reduce overcrowding in correctional facilities.
Abadinsky, H. (2014). Probation and Parole: Theory and Practice. New York: Pearson Education.
Champion, D. (2005). Probation, Parole, and Community Corrections. New York: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Carmen, R. (2006). Criminal procedure: Law and Practice. New York: Cengage Learning.
Petersilia, J. (2002). Reforming Probation and parole in the 21st Century. New York: American Correctional Association.
Worth, R. (2001). Probation, and Parole. New York: Chelsea House Publishers.