U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Abolishing Parole: Why the Emperor Has No Clothes

NCJ Number
Date Published
40 pages
This analysis of proposals to abolish parole concludes that abolishing parole dismantles an open and accountable system of release decisions and replaces it with a largely closed and mechanistic system of release decisions based on fixed sentences that inevitably become subject to good-time formulas.
Numerous States have abolished parole, but their crime rates and fear of crime have not declined. Three States that had abolished parole have actually reinstate it, although sometimes under a different name. The public does not understand the power that is lost when parole is abandoned. Parole can actually make a sentencing system tougher by making release from a prison a privilege that must be earned. Nonparole systems may sound tough, but they make release from prison automatic. Parole provides constant review of the criminal in prison. It is the one part of the system that has the safety of the community as its foremost concern. The parole board is an independent, citizen- oriented group. It is also an important ally within the system for the victims of crime. Most criminals will be released back into the community; steps are needed to facilitate a safe transition. Most parole boards keep victims informed of a criminal's status; a growing majority allow victims to provide input on their decision and to appear in person at parole hearings. Therefore, parole should receive the support it needs to protect both safety and peace of mind. Figures, tables, footnotes, and map