Reforming Parole: New Thinking About This Important Component of the Criminal Justice System

Michael Jacobson, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Sarah Lawrence, The Urban Institute

The panelists will present recent research findings about the institution of parole and will suggest new ways of thinking about and reforming this aspect of the criminal justice system. Jeremy Travis's presentation, titled "Let's End Parole As We Know It," will talk critically about the two functions of parole, namely discretionary release from prison and community supervision of released prisoners. Mr. Travis will suggest new ways of thinking about these criminal justice functions and will draw on lessons learned from welfare reform movement in terms of governmental support of the transition from dependence to independence. Joan Petersilia will present findings from her on-going research and writings about parole, including her 2002 publication "Reforming Probation and Parole in the 21st Century," and a forthcoming book about prisoner reentry. Professor Jacobson's presentation is entitled "Driving Down the Prison Population through Parole Reform." He will offer what is essentially a policy proposal to completely revamp the technical parole violation process that most state parole agencies use. To ground this new thinking in empirical data, Sarah Lawrence will present findings from a forthcoming report, "Variations in Parole Practices Across the United States." She will present parole-related data on the significant variations across states, focussing on parole violators returning to prison.

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Updated 05/20/2006