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Probation, Corrections, and Parole
Parole is the early release of prisoners from prison with specific conditions that are designed to protect the safety of victims and the public. Despite these conditions, the parole system remains controversial. In 1982, The President's Task Force on Victims of Crime Final Report recommended that parole systems be eliminated; since then, the federal prison system and some state systems have eliminated parole.84 In Minnesota, for example, parole was replaced with sentencing guidelines.
Similar to probation, successful candidates for parole must agree to abide by certain rules, which commonly include the following:
- Not committing any crimes while on parole.
- Honoring protective or no-contact orders.
- Submitting to random alcohol and drug testing.
- Finding and maintaining employment and housing.
- Paying restitution and meeting other financial obligations, including child support, fines, and costs associated with parole supervision.
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What the Parole Board Does
The early release of inmates is determined by a parole board after offenders serve at least a minimum portion of their sentences as ordered by the sentencing judge. Parole boards consider factors such as the nature of the offense, prior criminal history, behavior during incarceration, and community support for and opposition to release.85
How It Helps Victims
Approximately half of the states have victim service programs located in state parole agencies. These programs help to inform victims about the parole process, their rights, and the status of parolees.
Victims may not realize that parole was available to their assailants; they want their attackers to serve the full sentence. Most importantly, victims frequently have legitimate fears of revictimization once their attackers are released. To this end, parole officials86
- Educate victims about the parole process, including parole board hearings, community supervision, parole revocation, and victims' rights and services.
- Allow victims to submit victim impact statements to the parole board.
- Consider victim safety issues when inmates are paroled and address their safety concerns in the offender's conditions of parole.
- Facilitate opportunities for victims to address parole boards without their offenders present, when possible.
- Monitor restitution orders to ensure payments are collected and sent to victims.
- Participate in multidisciplinary efforts with other entities that make up the criminal justice system to ensure a seamless delivery of rights and services to victims of crime.