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Parole system in the United States Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 23rd, 2019


Parole can be seen as an arrangement or a situation where the prisoners are released before they complete their jail term for rehabilitation purposes. Prisoners under parole are usually supervised in order to see whether they are more likely to commit crime during this period.

In case they happen to break the law once more, then they are put back into prison. However, the prisoners are required to abide to the set rules and regulations. In the contemporary world, parole has become very common in many countries. In United States the current parole system is under the national parole board, which is a federal government agency together with the respective provincial parole boards (Levitt, 1996).

The origin of the parole arrangement can be related with the work of some former prison leaders. These include Brockway Zebulon of the New York in 1867 (Petersilia, 1999). Zebulon introduced the concept of parole in United States in 1876 (Petersilia, 1999). The main reason for its introduction during this period was to avoid overcrowding in the prisons that were already in poor conditions.

It was thus geared towards improving inmates’ conditions in the prisons. It was also aimed at rehabilitating the prisoners by encouraging them to get involved in those activities that can help them win their way out of prison. The period of the parole depends on the decisions made by the board.

The development of the parole system can also be traced back in the early years of the war when United States and confederate governments heavily relied on the traditional European system for the parole exchange (Levitt, 1996). This was the period when there was a great problem in dealing with the large number of captured troops. To be released, prisoners had to make a promise of not taking any arm against their captors.

A Detailed History of the Creation of the Social Agency

The United States parole system plays a very significant role in the criminal and social justice. One of the main objectives of this parole system is to assist the offenders to fit back into the society (Paparozzi and Gendreau, 2005). In most cases, prisoners may have done a certain offence that may make them not to fit easily in the community. In such cases, there is need to find a way through which the prisoners may be integrated back into the society.

In this case, the parole system plays a major role as it help an organisation in meeting the set goals. The parole system also plays an important role in protecting the community by ensuring that the offenders do not go back to breaking the law. For instance, a thief may be tempted to go back to stealing once released. In this case, the parole system protects the society from exposure to such criminals.

In the early 20th century, various states created their respective parole functions (Thigpen et al, 2011). These were mainly concerned with the rehabilitation measures. The parole boards were responsible for making the appropriate evaluation in making the final decisions of releasing the inmates.

Initially, prisoners were released without any strict conditions. There was no supervision upon the release of the prisoners. Prisoners were let to join the community without any directions from the authority. However, it was only those prisoners who were well behaved and therefore posed no risk in the parole.

In case the prisoners were viewed as not reformed, they had to be closely supervised while they completed their remaining term in jail. This was aimed at integrating them back into the society by helping them learn how to stay in accordance with the law. This minimized their chances of breaking the law once more.

A Presentation of the Mission Statement of the Social Agency

The parole agency in the United States has an important role on the security well being and the freedom of the inmates. The main objective of the parole system as part of criminal justice in the United States is to promote the protection of the society by making effective and successful decisions by timely releasing the offenders and choosing most effective rehabilitation measures to minimize the chances of re-imprisonment.


As already noted, the parole system plays a significant role in rehabilitation of the convicts. It is an advantage to the prisoner who have received maximum or minimum sentence. The prisoners get released from their full term and also are able to get an opportunity to be accepted back in the society through the rehabilitation process.

The parole system interacts with the criminal justice system in a number of ways. Through the parole system, the parole board is supposed to grant parole to eligible members. In this case, the board is usually very keen to ensure that only the convicts who do not pose danger to the society are released. Since parole is a reward given to those prisoners who demonstrates good behaviour, it helps in improving the behaviour of the convicts.

Over the past, a significant number of convicts have benefited from the parole arrangements. However, some people have been opposing the idea on the ground that it opened the door for the violent criminal back to the community. In spite of these threats, parole is justified on the ground that it has significantly helped in reduction of congestion in jails. It helps in reduction of the number of prisoners restrained in jails hence giving room for the new convicts.

In the United States, parole has become one of the integral parts in the criminal justice system. The justice system has clearly specified the procedures and conditions to be followed in granting parole sentencing. In selecting the appropriate convicts to be granted parole, the board uses time to judge the viability of the prisoners to be granted the parole sentence. Mostly, the decisions made by the parole board are usually independent.

In some cases, the board may decide to keep the prisoners for a longer period in case they think that they received a better deal during their sentencing (Levitt, 1996). Before considering parole for a certain convict, the parole board has to make a thorough analysis in order to see whether there are any chances for the convict to recidivate or whether the convict will be capable of maintaining a gradual improvement once they are released back into the society.

This ensures that only those individuals who do not pose a risk are released back to the society. In order to come up with best results, the parole board usually considers the previous criminal records in making their final judgments. For instance, in case the convict has repeated the same crime over and over again then parole is not feasible since there are high chances for the convicts to go back to the same form of crime.

Although the parole board plays a pivotal role in deciding the appropriateness of parole to the prisoner, it is difficult to predict accurately whether the convict will go back to the same crime once released. This is the reason why there is need to have a close supervision for the convicts once released. In case they do not show any improvement, then they have to be taken back into the prison.

In some cases, the results of the parole system may become negative. For instance, it can prevent the deviant convicts from returning back to normal. For example, the convicts may continue breaking the law once they have been released. However, others may completely quit their criminal lifestyle once they have been released. This implies that the parole board has challenging task in determining the inmates who deserve to be released and those who must be retained in jail. In this case, the parole board heavily relies on the previous records and the methods that have worked earlier in order to come up with the best solution.

As already noted, it is a difficult task to correctly predict who among the inmates is likely or unlikely going to change once released back into the society. It is therefore important to have an effective method in order to come up with the best solution. For instance, the board can make an analysis of the methods that has earlier worked better in order to come up with the solution.

Ways in Which the Social Agency Could Improve Its Effectiveness towards Its Social Goals

As already noted, the parole system has a major implication in the criminal justice system. Through parole, it is easy to avoid congestion as well as rehabilitate the prisoners. However, some of the convicts have been going back into crime once released. There is therefore the need for improvement of the parole system in order to improve its effectiveness in realizing the social goals.

In order to improve the effectiveness of the parole system in such a way that it meets the social goals effectively, it is always necessary to base all the decisions towards the protection of the society and fulfillment of the societal needs. In other words, the major goal (both the short term and the long term) of the parole board should be protection of the society. In connection to this, the board must always abide to the law in their decisions.

In order for the parole board to be effective in its decisions, it is necessary to make it more independent and autonomous. Its effectiveness is threatened in case there is any interruption. It is therefore necessary to have an independent system. For instance, it should be left to make independent decisions on the feasibility of an inmate for parole. Independence will also increase the accountability of the parole board.

The board will be accountable for any failure in their decisions if it is allowed to make independent decisions. Through independence, the board will be able to balance effectively between the important values of safeguarding the society’s safety and also the personal freedom.

A Prediction Concerning the Future of the Social Agency and Its Impact on the Criminal Justice System

Over the past, there have been a number of improvements in the parole system. For instance, it started with the system where the inmates were not supervised once released back into the society. However, this was improved to the point where the convicts were closely supervised once released in order to ensure that they did not go back to crime.

There are several efforts put in an attempt to prevent crime and victimization in the United States of America by application of the available resources (Thigpen et al 2011).

The parole system is gradually changing. For a long time, the parole system in the United States has been led by the principle of control and custody (Petersilia 1999). In these arrangements, the major roles are of the incapacitation, deference, and punishment. However, this arrangement is shifting to the one that is more focused in changing the behaviour of the offenders.

The resultant system will be the one that would discourage the offenders from committing crimes in the future. In the process, the system guarantees the long term safety in the community for everyone. Therefore, the new arrangements are expected to maximize the security of the entire community.

The authority responsible for the paroling functions plays a pivotal role in the correctional systems nationwide. They play a significant role in making timely decisions on the release of the prisoners throughout the year. They play a major role in making supervision directions after release and any violations to the post release conditions.

In order to achieve the best in the parole system, the parole authority is expected to be the leaders of change. They must be in the front line in deciding the best way forward because they have experience in the field. Therefore, the authority should use the public resources in their work.

According to Petersilia (1995), the authorities can improve on the effectiveness by carrying out its operations through policy-driven practices and adhering to evidence in making decisions. If these guidelines are followed closely, then an organisation can enhance the public safety.

This is because the authority will be able to analyze the evidence in making their final decisions on whether to release an inmate. This prevents dangerous prisoners from being released back to the society. This will also promote effective use of the public resources. The authority increases credibility and transparency in its operations through use of evidence in making decisions. This promotes the success of the system.


Based on the above discussion, it is clear that parole were introduced in the United States to reduce the term served by the convicts. However, it is important to note the fact that it was only given to those individuals who showed signs of improvement during the period they had served in their time in jail.

Paroles were also established in an effort to rehabilitate the convicts. This is one of the most significant parts in criminal justice. This is because it reduces the chances of the victim going back into the same offence. Paroles also played a significant role in decongesting the already congested jails. Parole therefore solved the problem of congestion hence giving room for the new convicts.

Reference List

Levitt, S. (1996). The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 111.2, 319-351.

Paparozzi, M., and Gendreau, P. (2005). An Intensive Supervision Program That Worked: Service Delivery, Professional Orientation, and Organizational Supportiveness. Prison Journal, 85: 445-466; Andrews

Petersilia, J. (1995). A Crime Control Rationale for Reinvesting in Community Corrections. Prison Journal 7 (3): 479-96.

Petersilia, J. (1999). Parole and Prisoner Reentry in the United States. Crime and Justice, Vol. 26, prisons (1999), pp. 479-529.

Thigpen, M. Et al. (2011). The Future of Parole as a Key Partner in Assuring Public Safety. NIC Accession Number 024201

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