Funding Community Based Treatment and Prevention Programs Through Parole Reform: A Case Study of the Technical Parole Violation Process

Michael Jacobson, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

ABSTRACT
Since parole and probation violators are now in many states the primary driver of correctional populations and nationally have grown at almost 8 times the rate of new commitments to prison in the last 7 years, a good deal of policy attention is now beginning to be paid to the parole system. My paper will specifically concentrate on technical parole violations or condition violators, which, again, in many states are far greater in numbers than violations for new arrests. The process by which parole officers decide to technically violate parolees is one that is not only little understood by the public but to most criminal justice practitioners as well. Most state parole divisions lack any clear processes or rules that are standardized and uniform as to who to violate for what and when. This paper will focus on the impact of this process for those with substance abuse and mental illness, how many of the technical violations revolve around the issues of drug abuse and mental illness and the almost complete lack of treatment resources in prisons to address the issues that caused the violation in the first place. This paper will propose community-based strategies (such as diversion to treatment) for preventing and supervising technical violators and a concomitant political and budget strategy for shifting resources from institutional to community based corrections and funding more treatment for this population.

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Updated 05/20/2006