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Impact of Race on Parole Decison-Making

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 25 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2008 Pages: 411-435
Kathryn D. Morgan; Brent Smith
Date Published
June 2008
25 pages
This research examined race as a significant influence in parole decisions in the State of Alabama.
Results show that race did not have a significant impact on decisions at the preliminary screening stage or the parole release stage. Although Black inmates comprised over 60 percent of the population of inmates eligible for release and those selected for a hearing and Whites comprised less than 40 percent of both groups, only 42 percent of the Black inmates were released compared to 43 percent of the White inmates. The study had sought to discern the major predictors of selection for parole consideration and parole release decisionmaking. Alabama uses a two-stage process: the preliminary screening stage to determine if the inmate should be considered for parole, and the parole release stage. The two dependent variables in the study were decision to select an inmate for parole consideration and parole release disposition. At the preliminary release stage, the most significant predictors were seriousness of the offense, time served, total disciplinary actions, and recommendations from the institutional parole officer, while recommendations given by prison personnel were the only variables impacting release decisions. This study examined the cases of 762 inmates under the supervision of the Alabama Department of Corrections who were eligible for parole from June 1993 through May 1994, and used data contained in documents from the inmates’ case files. Of the 762 eligible inmates, only 299 were selected for a parole release hearing, and of that number only 128 (43 percent) were granted parole. The work focused on Class A felony offenders where the offense involved injury to a victim. Tables, references


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