Parole is a privilege and never a right / by kevin murray

The United States imprisons an unprecedented amount of its own citizens, each and every year, at incarceration rates no other western nation, even approaches, and has been doing so, since the 1980s, and while the incarceration rate per 100,000 residents has been coming down in recent years, the numbers are still extraordinarily high.   The one thing, though, that perhaps some people have a tendency to forget, is that unless the person so incarcerated dies in prison, then one day, sooner or later, that prisoner will be released into the general population.


Most prisoners, though not all, when released from prison, are released under a condition known as parole.  Incredibly, federal prisoners are no longer paroled, unless they were convicted before1984, and thereby when released, are released under the terms and conditions of a "supervised release," which seems to be kind of similar to being paroled, but is no longer called that.  In regards to those prisoners incarcerated in State prisons, the State, itself, not the federal government, determines the rules and regulations of how parole will be served by the parolee. As might be expected, those convicted of a crime, and are later eligible for parole, are in absolutely no position to amend the terms and conditions of their parole.  So that, in effect, those that are eligible for parole, accept the conditions of that parole, in order to be paroled.


Since there are fifty States of the union, there are consequently fifty different abiding rules in regards to parole, and while there is a lot of commonality between those rules and regulations, different States have different rules, so that, some States are more restrictive and limiting, whereas others are more liberal, at least, on paper.  Further to the point, the rules and regulations of parole, are in essentially every State, setup in such a manner, that for virtually every parolee, excepting those choir angels, that the conditions imposed upon the parolee are so restrictive and so limiting, that to live a life on the outside without violating one of those conditions, ever, is well-nigh impossible.


For example, the most basic and common parole violations would include breaking curfew, failing a drug or alcohol test, being arrested, associating with other ex-convicts, changing one's residence without notification and permission, as well as failing to make a timely payment of one's court costs and fines, just to name a notable few.  In some States, the rules are even more restrictive, such as not being permitted to even enter a bar, or to have an internet connection, or the use of a computer, and so on and so forth.  Whatever that the rules are, not too surprisingly, the people being paroled, typically do not have the resources, the monetary means, or the legal help, to try to fight the legitimacy of at least some of their parole terms, thereby, effectively, for far too many parolees, making their life on the outside, subject to the whims of how restrictive their parole contact or State parole board wishes to be, which is pretty much the cardinal definition of law arbitrarily and unequally applied.


In short, those being released from prison on parole, are never being released as full fledge citizens of their country with full Constitutional rights, but are rather released as second-class citizens, if even that.