From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dumb on crime indeed

Much of Harper's "tough" on crime agenda has been described as dumb and that is particularly true in the area of parole or supervised release.

Inmates in our prison system live in an environment of constant tension where even the most insignificant mistake can have extremely dire consequences.Prisoners are also stripped of the ability to make even the simplest of decisions such as what to wear,or eat plus when to go to bed or when to get up.While these may seem mundane to us, they are the building blocks in our ability to cope in society and like any other skill if we don't use them we lose them. Simply tossing them out on the street without helping them to first decompress and re-acquire or in some cases learn the skills needed to function in society  is a recipe for disaster not just for the offender but for all of us.

Managing an offenders release allows us to not only direct the offender to programs that aid in his or her re-integration into society but also allows us to monitor how he/she is coping enabling authorities to either adjust programming, increase restrictions or even revoke parole,keeping someone in prison until their sentence is up doesn't allow any of that. As the above chart shows the more managed the release the better the outcomes.

Overall the re-admission rate for offenders is 44% while for those on some type of early release it is 37.1% and for those released on mandatory supervision it is 46.6% almost double that of full parole which is 25.1%. True the higher numbers for mandatory release reflect the fact that these offenders were considered at higher risk to re-offend in the first place,but they also highlight that the parole board usually gets it right.

So while parole has proven to be an effective tool for managing an offenders re-integration into society Harper once again refuses to accept the evidence and has decided that parole must become harder to get. Dumb on crime indeed,

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