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October 27, 2007

A notable collateral consequence of eliminating parole

This article from my local Columbus Dispatch highlights a notable corrections collateral consequence from the elimination of parole:

After nearly 30 years as one of Ohio's premier prison experts, Peter Davis arrived at this conclusion: The bad guys are getting badder.  Many older prisoners, even murderers, fear the new breed of aggressive and increasingly violent young inmates, said Davis, a member of the Ohio parole board and former longtime director of the legislature's Correctional Institution Inspection Committee....

Davis told The Dispatch that Ohio prisons are challenged not only by rapid growth -- the inmate population is expected to hit 50,000 for the first time in the next few weeks -- but also by problems posed by prisoners serving "flat" sentences.  Ohio's flat-sentencing law, enacted in 1996, eliminated "good time" and parole in favor of fixed-term sentences, meaning inmates are released at the end of their term, no matter what they do in prison -- unless they commit a new offense.

There is little, if any, incentive for inmates to pursue educational or vocational opportunities, Davis said. "We're getting a different kind of prisoner," Davis said. "Flat time is awful from multiple dimensions."

October 27, 2007 at 04:27 PM | Permalink


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Elimination of good time credits and other time-reducing incentives (e.g. work or education credits) is one of the more myopic and counter-productive measures ever taken by pandering legislatures. Even the most law-and-order conservative wardens and penologists concede as much). We reap what we sow.

Posted by: Michael Lelvine | Oct 27, 2007 7:28:56 PM

Probably true. A couple of ideas:

1) Bring them back, but to a lesser extent than they used to exist. I mean, if someone can get 25% shaved off their sentence somehow, that is still a powerful incentive.

2) Do a formal study on how these incentives impact recidivism.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Oct 28, 2007 8:26:16 AM

As everyone is now beginning to appreciate, it is a lot easier to give away humanitarian and common-sense practices than it is to restore them.

Posted by: peter | Oct 28, 2007 9:57:10 AM

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