Provisions for community supervision of offenders, including probation, parole, and revocations for violations, vary significantly across the United States. Frustrating at times, this variety provides a valuable opportunity for states to learn from the policies, failures, and the successes in other states.
California prisons release nearly 120,000 prisoners each year, and roughly two-thirds of them will be back in prison within three years—the highest return-to-prison rate in the nation. Six out of ten admissions to California prisons are returning parolees, and on any given day, parole violators make up nearly a third of the state’s prison population.
Unfortunately, scientific knowledge about parole is so limited that, despite the fact that more than a dozen reports have urged an overhaul of California’s parole practices, exactly what needs to be done remains unclear.
This online panel discussed the results from a three-year study recently completed and supported by the National Institute of Justice that examined the ways in which decision makers respond to parole violations in California. The study represents the largest and most comprehensive study of parole violations ever conducted, and the lessons learned will be instructive to policy makers and practitioners in other states.