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Author Topic: Problem with Parole Process - C#'s (by David Saxner)  (Read 4422 times)

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Problem with Parole Process - C#'s (by David Saxner)
« on: June 18, 2006, 11:57:02 AM »
David Saxner, along with Uptown People's Law Center and the Long Term Prisoner Policy Project head up a program, "Campaign to Support "C" Numbered Prisoners" to provide support for C# inmates.

Problem with Parole Process

1)  There is a disconnect between the institutional hearing and the en banc hearing held for the vote on parole.  Only one member meets the prisoner at the institutional level and then that person makes a presentation to the en banc.  By not meeting the prisoner, his family, supporters, lawyer, etc. the members of the PRB rely solely on the person who did the institutional hearing.  If that person does a sloppy job of preparing for the hearing, information in support of a parole application can be wrong. 

2)  The members who have not met the prisoner tend to reply on one of two documents in the PRB files: the protest letter from the State’s Attorney and/or and the SA Statement of Facts.  The latter was written before the person ever entered the DOC, and the document plays a big role in the parole process.  In fact, these documents play a more significant role than the prisoner’s institutional record or parole plan.

3)  There is usually inaccurate (or non-existent) information from the DOC or police agencies to the PRB files.  As a result decisions are made without accurate information.

4)  There is no criterion for making parole, and the crime outweighs the rehabilitative efforts of the prisoner.  “Acceptable risk” is the standard for parole, but there is nothing in PRB Rules that delineates what constitutes “acceptable risk”.

5)  PRB rules (from October 1986) call for a majority of “members appointed” to determine parole instead of a simple majority vote of members present once a quorum is established.  With a 15 member PRB, eight votes are needed for parole.  In 2003 only two out of 26 hearings had all PRB members present.  It is noteworthy that the statutes most C#’s were sentenced under, in addition to the PRB Rules in effect at the time of the sentencing, are inconsistent with the PRB Rules being applied today.

6)  No one from the prisoner’s side can address the en banc hearing, even if data is submitted  incomplete or inaccurate. 

Problem with MSR

1)  Parole agents by and large act as police officers trying to put prisoners back in prison, as oppose to assisting them in their reintegration into society.

2)  As a result of the general attitude implied above, too large a percentage of prisoners go back to prison on technical violations versus new crimes.

Recommendations to Improve Parole Process

1)  Create three members panels to interview prisoner at institution level.

2)  Adopt the acceptable risk definition in Smart Cuts and give the rehabilitative track record its appropriate place in the process.  These two steps can ensure more fairness in the parole process.  There must be a place for the SA protest letter and Statement of Facts, but it must be put in the proper context of documents developed before the parole process started.

3)  Change the vote for parole to a simple majority of members present once a quorum is established (Senate Bill 2766).

4)  Parole should be a maximum of three years if the prisoner does not break the law during that period of time.  This would be the same length of time served on MSR for those sentenced after 1978.  (Senate Bill 2767)

5)  Medical parole for terminally ill prisoners (Senate Bill 2765).

6)  Allow two to five minutes presentations for each side at the en banc hearings.

Recommendations for MSR

1)  Train parole officers to work with parolees to ensure a successful transition into free society.

2)  Set up an administrative process for revocation hearings on technical violations instead of putting people back in prison.

Together, we CAN make a difference

It's difficult to have a battle of wits with unarmed individuals.

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