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

Parole and Prioner Reentry in the United States (From Prisons, P 479-529, 1999, Michael Tonry, Joan Petersilia, eds. -- See NCJ-179472)

NCJ Number
Joan Petersilia
Date Published
51 pages
Parole is examined in terms of parole data sources, parole's history and current use, the current parole population, offenders' needs as they make the transition into the community, services available to meet these needs, parole outcomes, current thinking on how to reform parole, and promising parole programs.
Discretionary parole release and parole field services have undergone major changes as the country has embraced more punitive policies. Fourteen States have abolished discretionary parole release for all offenders; 21 other States severely limit its use. Parole supervision remains, but needed treatment programs are scarce, and parole officers focus on surveillance more than rehabilitation. About half of parolees fail to complete parole successfully; their returns to prison represent about one-third of incoming prisoners. Given an average (median) prison term served of 15 months, more than half of all inmates now in prison will be in the community in less than 2 years. Developing programs to reduce parole recidivism should be a top priority; a few agencies are operating successful job training and drug abuse programs. Experts argue that a new parole model is urgently needed that incorporates advances in technology, risk prediction, effective rehabilitation, and more active forms of supervision that incorporate citizens and others who know the offender. Such reforms are more promising than parole abolition in that they reduce the public safety risks posed by parolees and increase the chances that offenders will succeed. Figures, tables, and 95 references (Author abstract modified)