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April 26, 2006

California's sentencing and parole problems

A reader thoughtfully pointed me to this recent commentary from the Los Angeles Times by Professors Joan Petersilia and Robert Weisberg entitled "Parole in California: It's a crime."   Here are a few snippets from an interesting read:

California's prison system is reeling. The corrections chief and his acting replacement have both quit in the last two months . But a major cause of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's growing dysfunctionality has nothing to do with how it runs its prisons and administers parole.  Rather, it's the state's laws that determine the lengths of prison terms and inmate-release policies....

[M]any dangerous prisoners on parole receive too little monitoring, are released from parole too early and commit serious new crimes, while many non-dangerous ex-convicts stay on parole too long, wasting the state's resources, and are sent back to prison for trivial reasons.

There are three main reasons for California's high recidivism rate: illconceived sentencing laws, rigid parole practices and an inexcusable neglect of programs to help prisoners adapt to life on the outside....

Given the inefficiencies of how we sentence and imprison our criminals, the wonder is that our inmate population and prison costs aren't greater.  But there's no denying that our high recidivism rate wastes human opportunity and disrupts family life in unquantifiable ways.  New leadership at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will help some.  Reforming the state's determinate sentencing law will do even more.

April 26, 2006 at 03:16 PM | Permalink


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I am attempting to help a friend who is due to be released from prison in July and will be on
'high control' parole. He recently was notified
about the many conditions of his parole. He is
questioning some of these and wishes to appeal
them. I am concerned that these conditions
will not allow him to succeed in changing
his life and remaining out of prison. Any
advice? Where does he begin to argue or appeal
such conditions?

Posted by: Linda | May 11, 2006 4:25:54 PM

I have a friend who got out of Fed Prison 6 months ago and is having problems with his PO. He is a very low key person, works for his son, has no life, goes nowhere, is a home body. But his PO officer is a monster, continualy arguementative and unreasonable. The parolee is fulfilling all of the obligations of his probation, has a job, no drugs, limited alcohol, limited travel, he's a mushroom. Is there anywhere or anyhow he can get some help? Can he get a new PO? He's been told she's a god and there's no way away from her. Does he have any legal recourse?

Posted by: John | Aug 30, 2006 8:38:20 PM

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