|A PROPER SENTENCE?
Should lawmakers in Georgia make some offenders ineligible for parole?
June 24, 1998
in this forum:
Without parole, are prison authorities left without any reward for prisoners' good behavior? If there is no parole, will prisoners' violence and disrespect for the prison system increase? Will taking away parole take away the hope that prisoners will ever rehabilitate themselves? What effect would abolishing parole have on prison overcrowding? What would abolishing parole mean for state spending on prisons? Chris Cote of Danbury, VT, asks: Does ending parole remove the "carrot" from penal behavior control? Without parole, are prison authorities left without any reward for prisoners' good behavior?
Georgia State Senator Sonny Perdue responds:
I don't think that the abolition of parole "removes the carrot" or denigrates prison behavior. Wardens inform me that inmates with life sentences tend to be the best citizens within a prison community. Why? Because people respond to certainty in their lives. Lifers realize the certainty of their fate and react by creating the best living environment they possibly can. For that reason, I believe that we should assign designated times to serve for each crime... in other words, certain sentencing.
During the penalty process, a judge assigns a definite sentence. After the time is served, the prisoner would go on probation. If he/she doesn't abide by the terms of probation, then reincarceration will occur. Therefore, prisoners won't have to wait for the hope of parole. They will know on the front end of the process what the punishment will be. And there would be no reward for "good behavior" or no way to profit from committing a crime.
Furthermore, dangling parole in front of prisoners may, in actuality, create a dangerous sense of false hope. Most criminals can reform themselves for a temporary, ephemeral amount of time in order to gain freedom via parole. Meanwhile, the inner person remains unchanged and extremely capable of committing further crimes upon release. With the removal of parole and the instituting of sentencing standards, criminals know the precise time they will serve and are not continually rejected and angered by arbitrary decisions of a parole board.
Jim Wetherington, Vice Chair of the Georgia Parole Board, responds:
I believe with no hope for parole, many prisoners will be less likely to conform to the rules and regulations while incarcerated. Yes, [authorities may be left without rewards], unless other measures are implemented.