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Maryland's Parole Supervision Fee: A Barrier to Reentry

NCJ Number
Rebekah Diller; Judith Greene; Michelle Jacobs
Date Published
42 pages
This report examines the impact of Maryland's parole supervision fee on the reentry outcome of parolees and presents recommendations to reduce the barrier the fee places on successful reentry.
With the monthly supervision fee of $40 hindering reentry goals by burdening parolees with debt they are unable to pay, it is recommended that the Maryland parole supervision fee be abolished. The fiscal benefit is outweighed by the risk that the fee contributes to recidivism, resulting in higher incarceration costs. Highlights of key findings in this report include: (1) when it authorized the fee in 1991, the Legislature knew that most parolees would be unable to afford the fee, and therefore build in exemptions; (2) most parolees are, in fact, unemployed and unable to afford the fee; (3) the system for granting exemptions is broken; (4) only 17 percent of the supervision fees assessed are collected by the end of parole; (5) revenue generated by the supervision fee is not dedicated to financing parole supervision; and (6) dunning by the Division of Parole and Probation and by the Central Collection Unit pressures individuals, undermines reentry, and is out-of-step with Maryland's effort to reduce recidivism. As an alternative, improving the way the fee is implemented to ensure that exemptions are approved where due is recommended. Steps are recommended to the four State bodies administering the parole supervision fee: the Legislature, Parole Commission, Division of Parole and Probation, and Central Collection Unit in order to fix Maryland's parole supervision fee, such as abolish the fee outright, implement a sliding scale fee tailored to an individual's financial circumstances, evaluate exemptions up front, and direct parole agents to help individuals apply for exemption. To assess the impact and operation of the supervision fee, this report examined data from the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation (DPP) spoke with DPP personnel, reentry service providers and parolees, and reviewed the literature detailing the challenges of reentry. Charts, figures, tables, and appendix