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Parole violations are driving prison’s revolving door

[Richmond Times-Dispatch]

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

Shawn D. Bushway, University at Albany, State University of New York and David J. Harding, University of California, Berkeley

(THE CONVERSATION) Rapper Meek Mill is back in prison in Pennsylvania for violating the terms of his probation.

According to officials, Mill left the state without permission, did not meet with his probation officer, tested positive for Percocet, failed to complete community service and got into a fight at an airport.

Mill’s case has drawn new attention to how probation and parole violations contribute to extremely high rates of incarceration in the United States. These high rates of incarceration are in part driven by reimprisonment of formerly incarcerated individuals, known as recidivism. More than half of people who are released from prison in a given year in the United States will return within five years, a phenomenon that has come to be known as prison’s “revolving door.”

Reducing the prison population requires a deeper understanding of what drives the revolving door. The results of our recently published study show how parole, even more than probation, plays a key role.


Read more


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Does anyone take the registry seriously these days with the avalanche of people being accused daily of this stuff on the internet? I think they will be forced to “qualify” only serious offenses soon from a practical standpoint.

Yes, it is taken seriously. Don’t jeopardize yourself into thinking otherwise. The authorities will lock you up and forget about you.

That whole revolving door issue is old news…any of us who have ever been inmates already knows that .

“preventing future involvement in the criminal justice system.” Hallelujah, this should be the goal of our institutions. The practice is to make every law one can think of to trip the registrant and make him fall into prison.

Yes, the practice is as you said. Rehabilitation is not the goal. The laws are designed to trip us up and land us back in prison. It is driven by the public’s fear and hatred of us, fanned by legislators seeking re-election and media seeking higher ratings, and supported by the lie that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated, and exhibit “frightening and high” recidivism.

The laws are made to create justice for the victims of your crime. They have absolutely no intent to rehabilitate you or lessen your likelihood to reoffend. I am not trying to troll here, I just want a clear understanding of why the laws are the way they are.

That’s a very interesting (and true) point. It is worth mentioning that that type of thinking is very recent; in earlier periods of history it would not have been considered acceptable to burn down civilization in order to save it. I believe these people don’t realize that is what they are doing. To me, it all represents a lack of faith – in the future, in themselves, in their ideals, in their ability to teach future generations. The means, in fact, make the ends; and we must decide very carefully if the Zero Approval Gambit is worth it. Now, because… Read more »

Yet it seems like you are trolling, Josh. It could be said of laws that mandate restitution that their purpose is to “create justice” or attempt to restore or compensate victims for offenses against them. They constitute an infinitesimal percentage of all laws. And they are not the ones that create the revolving door to prison. Broadly, laws are civil or criminal in nature. They differ in many respects, particularly in the type of conduct they apply to, the type of penalties associated, the intent or mindset of the violator, the burden of proof required in court, etc. Criminal laws… Read more »

The true value of a good lawyer is her ability know the system and to pick judges which tend to give probation rather than prison and to pick venues where there won’t be cameras in the courtroom, and hence your name and face won’t be front page on the internet forever. It could save your life. I don’t know if the system as a whole will ever be able to base sentencing on empirical evidence, the focus of politicians is not about preventing crime but on beating up criminals. They think it is the same thing, and they gets more… Read more »

It used to be the CDC made a hundred grand on each inmate per year from the federal government, so it was easier to violate people on parole on a whim and collect money.

Pack Mentality [aka, herd behavior]. C’mon! Dude did not meet with his probation officer, was taking drugs, failed to complete court ordered community service, and was catching new cases. All that being said. Does anyone other than me think pack mentality [aka, herd behavior] is responsible for the prison population? I’m not necessarily talking about the people who end up in prison, but society in general. I think the 2016 election is a perfect example of how pack mentality drives the opinions of people. Trump said that violence was good for his campaign which, in his little mind, justified saying… Read more »

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