Drawing from numerous dozens of interviews within inmates, prison officials and former prisoners, the author has exposed how the current system if failing to help the enamors number of jailed Americans re-enter into the society. The author moves a step further in identifying and exploring the harsh conditions and realities behind prisoner’s re-entry offering specific solutions to prepare inmates before they are released and in turn reduce the recidivism cases. This would as well restore the inmates to full citizens while also maintaining the demand of public safety. The book represents the re-entry issue in a historical and cultural context (Petersilia, 2003).
In the chapter one, (the emerging importance of prisoner re-entry to crime and community), the author examines the challenges faced by the numerous American people who leaves state and federal prisons returning to their homes. Prisoner’s re-entry is the process by which inmates are released and supervised after release into the community, this aspect is vital for the public safety. However, the process is faced by numerous problems, which hinders likelihood of success for offenders re-entering the communities. Most of the inmates released into the community from prison have serious problems both socially ad medically. In addition, these people remain uneducated, unskilled and in most cases, they are faced with lack of solid family support. In addition to these problems, the inmates are also faced with the problem of substance abuse and mental illness (Petersilia, 2003). In addition, to this, majority of prisoners lives with infectious disease. It has been identified that, prisoners in United States are at a higher risk of contacting infections such as HIV/AID. Moreover, on top of scarce resources given the prisoners and the rehabilitation of the inmates, there is also the public sentiment and political rhetoric, which has forced the reduction of many beneficial programs, which were initially benefited by the inmates. For example in 1994, the congress eliminated the Pell grants, which were used to pay for prisoner tuitions for college courses taken while incarcerated. Other problems discussed by the author include lack of housed for the parolees, over concentration of the prisoners, which causes a number of sociological worries especially to the young people and the children in the community (Petersilia, 2003).
Addressing the problem
The issue of prisoner re-entry is an incredibly complex and multifaceted problem. In order to solve the problems associated with the re entry issue, there needs to be vital implements in the crime policy, sentencing, prisons and even prison release practices. In addition, it also calls for the implementation of effective programs in rehabilitation, as well as government’s effort in helping people to acquire new living and working skills in order to reduce the re-entry cases. According to the author, one of the measure that can be implemented include effective therapeutic communities for the drug addicts prisoners, cognitive behavioral programs for sex offenders as well as basic adult education and vocational education for the general prison education. In addition, there should be reinstitution of discretionary parole in the 16 states that have already abolished it and in turn reverse the automatic mandatory release trend. Finally, protocols should be established that allows offenders to put their entire criminal live in the past and in turn be restored to complete citizenship (Petersilia, 2003).
Ever since its emergence parole has continued to be diverse as well as being mistaken to probation. Parole is a French originated word meaning giving a promise and in turn when in prison scenario it means an inmate’s promise to conduct herself in a law abiding manner or in a accordance to a given set of rules in exchange to her release to the community. The term grew from the criminology trend that involved punishment to reformation. The first enactment of the parole system is credited to Alexander Maconochie between the years 1787 and 1860. He deployed five stages to follow for an inmate to earn a parole or freedom. These stages include; strict imprisonment, labor on government chain gangs, freedom within a given area, a ticket of leave on parole and finally full restoration of liberty. By the year 1865, the spread in the deployment of the parole system had spread in the European prisons and the United States adopted the system. Brockway Zebulon is credited for implementing the first parole system in United States. The adoption and complexity of the system continued to grow and in turn required more advanced methods and techniques to implement and supervise it. One of the major criticisms behind the system is the varying time of supervision before a prisoner is automatically released. In addition, there has been an increase in the needs for the inmates and in turn leading to decreased in prison programs. This ahs negatively affected the parole system in majority of the prisons (Petersilia, 2003).
Discretionary parole is the kind of parole that is granted before an offender grants his/her sentence in prison which is subject to certain conditions that are brought forth by the parole board. It is done after carefully reviewing information on any given prisoner and in turn determining that his/her release is not harmful to the community. Lack of effective inmates review as well as the inadequate resources to monitor the prisoners, the negative effect has been felt on the Discretionary parole as it has been deemed ineffective with good number of prisoner’s releases becoming a threat to the community. As the number of ex-convicts in America has continued to grow, the country’s systematic marginalization threatens the very immediate society who’s the imprisonment and the parole program was meant to protect. Much has been spent in America on decision making on who and for how long should a convicted person stay imprison, in addition, what criteria should be deployed to determine who is ready for parole as well as deciding what to do when the prisoners comes home (Petersilia, 2003).
Petersilia, J. (2003). When prisoners come home: Parole and prisoner re-entry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.