Parole is often portrayed as “a free pass,” but this is far from the truth in a system dominated by punishment. Support for those on parole can be nonexistent, while supervision is often harshly levied. Because parole is defined and practiced differently in states across the country, Truthout talked to activists working on this issue in four different states, focusing on their struggles and successes in helping people gain access to parole.
In a political climate still hung up on being “tough on crime,” mercy doesn’t come easily. But activists across the country are making inroads to help those impacted by harsh and outdated parole practices that have added to mass incarceration in the United States. In some cases, as they raise community awareness, they are also changing parole policy.
The United States has the shameful reputation of being the world’s largest jailer, and as the Prison Policy Initiative reported in March, 2017, 2.3 million people are currently locked up in prisons and jails. This mass incarceration continues in spite of the fact that a Brennan Center for Justice report shows that crime is down and rates remain near historic lows.
Furthermore, our punishment system extends beyond the prison walls and includes destructive parole policies. “Max Out,” a 2014 Pew Charitable Trusts report, details that over the past three decades, those sent to prison have been serving longer sentences. They are less likely to earn parole, the opportunity to finish one’s sentence …read more