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NCJ Number
A von Hirsch; K J Hanrahan
Date Published
64 pages
This analysis of the arguments for and against parole concludes that parole should not be continued in its present reform and that several reforms are needed.
Instead of a discretionary release decision made on the basis of rehabilitative or incapacitative considerations, explicit standards are needed that cover the duration of confinement and that are based mainly on a just deserts rationale. In addition, the decision fixing the release date should be made at or shortly after sentencing, instead of well into the offender's term. Moreover, releasees suspected of new criminal activity should be prosecuted as any other suspect rather than having their parole revoked. Finally, supervision should be eliminated entirely or, if retained, should be reduced substantially in scope, with reduced sanctions for noncompliance and a careful analysis of the process for effectiveness and cost. However, the role of the parole board as a decisionmaking unit is a more complex issue. Whatever its defects, the parole board has performed the essential function of transforming lengthy judicial sentences into more realistic terms of actual confinement. Therefore, caution is needed in abolishing the parole board.