Volume 111

Rehabilitation or Revolving Door: How Parole Is A Trap for Those in Poverty

by Brittany L. Deitch

On any given day, one in four incarcerated persons in the United States is locked up for a technical violation of their community supervision. The United States has thus created a mass incarceration problem and mass supervision problem that fuel each other through the parole system. When an individual is fortunate enough to be released from prison and permitted to begin reentry into society through parole, the paroling authority often imposes numerous conditions of release. These myriad conditions vary widely, but many parolees are required to comply with exceedingly long lists of requirements, many of them financial. If a parolee violates any of these conditions, a revocation of parole occurs and the parolee is once again confined. This revolving door between prison and parole is all too common, with nearly half of all parole terminations resulting in the return of the parolee to prison, rather than successful completion of the sentence. In addition to the onerousness of the imposed conditions, the financial cost of compliance with parole conditions contributes to a host of the technical violations that further the United States’ mass incarceration problem. This Article argues that parole in its current form entraps those in poverty and must be reformed with a particular focus on easing the financial burden of parole compliance. 

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