Chapter Activities

Activity 1:

Parole as a Release Valve for Corrections

In this writing assignment, students will craft a persuasive essay on the topic of parole. Students should choose one of two sides to the following position: Parole is a viable option for controlling the prison population. Students should first determine if they agree or disagree with this statement and then craft a three- to five-page paper supporting their position. The persuasive essay should include the following elements:

  1. A tentative thesis statement/statement of the problem, grounding the text in the history of parole, and current conditions of prisons pertaining to rated capacity and overcrowding.
  2. Evidence to support the position for or against the use of parole as a release valve for overcrowding in prisons.
  3. Statements to persuade their audience that their position is valid.
  4. Conclusion paragraph stating the implications of their position.

Activity 2:

Determining Parole

In this activity, students will provide a recommendation to the parole board. Using the case presented below, and the elements the board considers in determining eligibility (see, e.g., Pennsylvania’s criteria:, students will provide a brief presentation to the class highlighting the applicant’s risk and protective factors that support the recommendation.

Applicant’s History

  1. The applicant is a 54-year-old male sentenced to life after being convicted of rape/sexual assault of a 21-year old woman when he was 25. The offender and victim did not know each other.
  2. He has a history of theft in connection with a robbery when he was 20 years old, pled guilty to this charge, and served 2 years of a 5-year sentence.
  3. He is currently serving his sentence in a medium-security prison where he has been a model inmate, with no disciplinary infractions in the past 5 years.
  4. He completed the following programs while incarcerated: GED, violence prevention, and a barber training program.
  5. He maintains contact with his parents who will allow him to live with them if he is released.

In their presentations, students should highlight the following:

  • What makes the applicant a good candidate for parole?
  • What concerns should the parole board consider when making their decision?
  • Was the victim consulted about the potential release of the applicant?