Given the current public attitude toward criminals, what do you see as the likely future of parole release?

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The public attitude toward criminals has become increasingly negative. With increased coverage of criminal activities on television news programs, round the clock access to information, and social media usage, there have been calls to reduce or to end parole release. The easy way to deal with this issue is to either shut it down completely or significantly reduce its use. However, that may not necessarily be the future of this program.

Part of the issue with parole release is that many people who are released eventually have their parole revoked. This occurs because these people go back into environments when released from prison that aren’t conducive for leading a successful life. They may not have a stable place in which to live and they may not find meaningful employment. In cases when judges are reelected, if a judge allows for a sentence that could include being released early, and if that person then commits a serious crime, opponents of the judge in the next election will likely use this case against the judge. This may make it less likely that judges would be willing to issue a sentence that includes the possibility of parole. Additionally, members of a parole board may be hesitant to grant a prisoner’s request for early release because of the fear of the public backlash that would occur if that prisoner were to commit another crime after being released.

However, the cost of keeping a person in prison is very high. As states face financial issues, overcrowding of prisons, and a shortage of prison workers, it is very possible that parole release is not going to disappear. Inmates need an incentive to behave properly while in prison and to work to reform their ways of living for when they are released from prison. Parole release is part of this incentive. As a result, while it may be politically popular to get tough on crime and criminals, the reality may be that parole release programs aren’t going to disappear.

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