|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? Bill Murphy of Harrisburg, PA, asks: What effect would abolishing parole have on prison overcrowding?
Georgia State Senator Sonny Perdue responds:
If parole were abolished and sentences were standardized, prison population would temporarily increase but then decrease and eventually level off. The initial surge would be directly related to the sentencing changes... a four-year sentence would be four years, not four years with parole in two. However, we would soon begin to see judges, under the pressure of peer review, impose sentences more commiserate with the crimes committed.
Members of the bench would realize that they are now the final authority... what they impose is the sentence, and they no longer would need to prognosticate the thoughts of the parole board and then estimate a sentence. In short, prisons would soon be purged of those inmates with an open-ended calendar; every prison would know the exact date an inmate will leave and they can more successfully control population surges.
Jim Wetherington, Vice Chair of the Georgia Parole Board, responds:
In Georgia, the prison system is practically "at capacity" at all times. There are 21,000 people serving their sentences on parole today. If parole were abolished as we know it, there would be an immediate overcrowding crisis that would compel the federal courts to mandate releases to relieve the overcrowding.