Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Would reducing the number of people on parole reduce recidivism?

With revocations for technical violations at an all-time high, would reducing the number of Californians on parole reduce recidivism? California will find out in a pilot program, reports forensic psychologist Karen Franklin on her blog:
One of the inmates I evaluated at San Quentin today had violated parole by missing a counseling appointment. The other had tried to beat a urinalysis after drinking alcohol on his birthday. Every day, busloads of "technical violators" like these two young men are dumped off at California prisons, giving the state the highest recidivism rate in the United States. Within three years of release, two-thirds of California parolees are back behind bars; that's twice the national average.

One method of reducing recidivism that is currently under consideration is to eliminate parole for all except the most dangerous of released prisoners. It's been done in other states and, counterintuitively, it may make the public safer. That's because limited resources can be targeted toward identifying and supervising the few very dangerous ex-prisoners.

Parole agents in two Southern California counties will be testing this idea starting next month. If it works, the changes may be implemented statewide next year.
Franklin points to a Los Angeles Times op ed arguing that "Fewer parolees make for safer streets." PacoVilla dislikes the idea, but in a year or so there should be hard data to judge whether the program works. Interesting discussion out on the West Coast, where the Governator and his supporting cast face a full-blown prison overcrowding crisis that's making national headlines.


Daniel said...


Interesting discussion out on the West Coast, where the Governator and his supporting cast face a full-blown prison overcrowding crisis...

They could expand death penalty offenses and limit the appeals process by providing for an automatic appeal within 2 years of the conviction. After that automatic appeal take them out back to the gallows.

It would have my vote to ease overcrowding.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Bloodthirsty, much? I realize you were "joking," one assumes, but the joke's about as funny as laughing at prison rape.

Anonymous said...

I guess it will depend on how recidivism is measured!

Perhaps I didn't read this carefully enough but it sounds like a boondoggle to me.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.... here's a radical idea ~ DECREASE the number of technical violations available and perhaps recidivism will go down too?

And PLEASE dont let any legislators in TX see this!!!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

As PacoVilla notes, CA parole is a little different than Texas' - here parole is only for those who don't serve a full sentence, e.g., you're sentenced to five years, paroled after three, so you'd stay on parole two years. In CA, EVERYONE goes on parole even if they serve their full sentence. So they have a bigger percentage of ex-offenders on parole than we do.

By contrast, we have a MUCH bigger probation population, which is where Texas' technical revocation problem is more severe. The probation legislation this year followed a similar concept - reduce the number of low-level offenders on probation by letting them earn their way off supervision through good behavior. Then over time, fewer probationers = fewer technical violators.

Daniel said...

Howdy Grits,

No, I was not joking. I've shed blood for this country... but I wouldn't consider myself bloodthirsty.

I think that more crimes should warrant the death penalty and that those on death row need to be dispatched faster instead of wasting funds on appeals. I am in favor of unusual capital punishment: hanging and firing squad. As an aside I am also in favor of the lash for some lesser offenses.

On the flip side, I happen to think that "rehabilitation" is a joke in Texas and needs to be re-worked from the ground up. I.E. fire those in charge and start fresh. Further, that once a sentence is served we need to work on removing the official stigma attached. Except in the worst cases out there: treason, rapists, child molesters, etc (But under my law these folks would be stretched on a rope anyway)

I also believe that a number of penal code offenses need to be removed whole-cloth and left to common law affairs.

Finally, I want to take a moment to say that I do like your blog. We don't have very similar viewpoints, but I find your analysis helpful in furthering my education in TDCJ matters.

Heh, I likely come across as Atila the Hun... but I promise you I wasn't reared by Ostrogothic Hell-Witches. I'm just a jarhead with very little in the way of mercy for those who cross certain lines.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Daniel, CA has 173,000 people stuffed into prisons designed for 100,000. So to suggest solving prison overcrowding by execution would mean killing nearly 20 times the number of Americans who've dies so far in Iraq.

I'm with you on a number of things you mentioned, though obviously we have some fundamental ideological disagreements. But with California's numbers, or Texas', there's not room for discussion of the death penalty in prison overcrowding discussions beyond dark humor.

I'm glad you're reading, commenting, and enjoying the blog. I hope you feel welcome. Come back anytime.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we stop arresting people and not expect anyone to be accountable for his or her actions?
So, what I read is that the conditions of parole are not that important to abide by. Then, why place rules on any of them? There are a lot of stupid people in our criminal justice system and most are the one's that make policy and have pilot programs.

The bottom line is these folks continue to break rules. . . How is this not a sign of future criminal behavior?

I vote for following the rules. If not get rid of the rules and keep your doors locked!

Daniel said...

Howdy Grits,

Daniel, CA has 173,000 people stuffed into prisons designed for 100,000.

Is there a way to find the specifics of those 173,000 prisoners? I'm curious because I want an idea of how things would pan out if my musings became reality.

southernblossom said...

Daniel -

I'm right along with you there. Treason, rapists, child molestors - death penalty. It's biblical. Now on the other hand, as anonymous said - follow all the rules - makes me wonder if anonymous knows just how many rules some counties put on those on probations. Your hanged before you even start with some counties. I've seen requirements to attend 4-5 different series of classes, where each series last weeks or months, and furthermore have little to nothing to do with the conviction in the first place. In addition, individuals are put on "probation" (drug tests, weekly reporting) before they have even gone to court. There is too much "guilty before proven innocent" going on in most counties. Further, in addition to having all of the classes, and being on probation before officially on probabion, counties are ready to revoke your right to have a drivers license at the drop of a hat, which makes earning a living difficult. That makes having to pay all of the dozens of fees the county is eager for you to pay even more interesting. All these fees the counties pile up, plus removal of your drivers license, plus having to attend 4-5 different class series (that have little or nothing to do with the conviction), plus weekly reporting to a PO (before having gone to court) sets up for failure from the start. If the true interest is to turn the individual around to be a productive citizen, this isn't going to do it. And they wonder why the system is short staffed. DUH.

Anonymous said...

Overhauling our system to bring some common sense is the only viable solution.

Too many counties with too many judges making too many conditions without checks and balances.

Judges need to have sentencing guidelines similar to the feds and have the legislators develop standard conditions for the entire supervised population only authorizing judges to add crime or victim specific conditions and mandate court costs and fines based on a state average and ability to pay. Back to the civil lien thing at time of term.

This brings it down to one simple solution is to remove local politics and have the legislators oversee a state run probation and parole system with the oversight of the governor.

One department with a real mission to protect the public and ability to use the tools of the entire state verses just one local county.

Texas could be one of the top leaders in the country using progressive sanctions, restorative justice, and protection of the community together making a no nonsense and effecient agency. The professional level could jump up ten notches and get rid of dead weight in local government.


Anonymous said...

For those who say "it's biblical" when discussing what they would introduce as STATE laws, and then include treason in that list, isnt that contradictory seeing as you are supposed to have separation of STATE and RELIGION?

Also, violence breeds violence. If a man knows in advance that he is likley to die for his actions, it doesnt stop him doing whatever he was going to do in the first place, it just makes him more likely to do it in a bigger, louder, messier way and take as many people as possible with him. Am I talking about soldiers or inmates.... you decide.

southernblossom said...

On your bigger and messier theory because of violence beggetting violence - well, we won't have any more repeat offenders will we?? And as far as separation of church and state - some folks are taking that WAY TOO FAR, and not understanding the theory behind it. Understand the bible, and use that to make wise decisions. Don't become like Iraq and force everyone to practice the same beliefs. The bible talks about history, and will help us to avoid past mistakes. And treason being contridictory - there are more than a few sections in the bible talking about the consequences of a citizen who commits treason. If we can't count on you to help protect our country, I'm sure there are more than a few countries who would love to have you. Are we talking about soldiers or inmates you ask, well, if more people went through the military, they would be stronger individuals, and less about "me me me" and more about the country as a whole. That would result in less crime, and better, stronger thinkers.