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Parole Release Decisions Revisited: An Analysis of Parole Release Decisions for Violent Inmates in a Southeastern State

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 33 Issue: 3 Dated: May/June 2005 Pages: 277-287
Kathryn D. Morgan; Brent Smith
Date Published
May 2005
11 pages
This study examined the variables correlated with parole release decisions in Alabama.
While the use of discretionary parole as a release mechanism is employed widely across the United States, relatively little is known about the parole decisionmaking process. In an effort to illuminate the variables associated with parole release decisions, the current study examined the criminal justice case files of 762 violent offenders who were eligible for parole in Alabama from June 1993 through May 1994. Data under examination included the pre-sentence investigation report, the parole officer’s report, the warden’s report, the parole review checklist, records of oral and written communication to the parole board, and the decisions regarding parole made by the board. Variables fell into the categories of offense characteristics and criminal history, institutional variables or general parole factors, and offender characteristics. Results of statistical analyses indicated that only 18 percent of the 762 eligible inmates were granted parole. Findings revealed the three strongest predictors of parole release decisions to be: (1) length of original sentence; (2) total number of current felonies; and (3) the warden and senior officers’ recommendations. Future research should focus on whether parole decisions in our increasingly crime conscious society are driven more by goals of retribution than by goals of individual rehabilitation. Tables, references