|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? Jane Marcus of Palo Alto, CA, asks: What would abolishing parole mean for state spending on prisons?
Georgia State Senator Sonny Perdue responds:
Parole abolition would increase state spending. But without parole abolition, state spending on prisons would also increase. Corrections expenditures have steadily increased in Georgia over the past years and the current systems seems to have failed to stem the tide. So instituting a standard set of sentences, relying on judges to impose those sentences, and then abiding by the sentences and utilizing the probation period may cause an increase in prison spending, but it would be similar to the current situation.
Furthermore, spending will continue to increase until we firmly control the root causes of crime, including the primary factor of education. Until we can do more to eliminate the need for prisons, then we must tackle the situation as feasibly as possible. In the end, we have to ask ourselves this question: are we willing to spend more on crime because people are unincarcerated? That is, because we have a revolving door of parole, sometimes used to alleviate overcrowding, and because other states sometimes use an early release program for the same reason, we turn more criminals back to the streets.
And then we see astronomical recidivism rates... and we pay for that. Attacking the problem on the front end, by imposing a certain sentence and thus providing an easier blueprint for rehabilitation and cooperation, we take a proactive step rather than a mere reactive one.
Jim Wetherington, Vice Chair of the Georgia Parole Board, responds:
If there were no parole and everyone was required to serve 100% of their sentence, it would be very costly for taxpayers, unless prisoners were sentenced to much shorter sentences than is presently the case.