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:
- 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.
- Evidence to support the position for or against the use of parole as a release valve for overcrowding in prisons.
- Statements to persuade their audience that their position is valid.
- Conclusion paragraph stating the implications of their position.
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: https://www.bop.pa.gov/application-process/Pages/Factors-Considered-by-the-Board.aspx), students will provide a brief presentation to the class highlighting the applicant’s risk and protective factors that support the recommendation.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- He completed the following programs while incarcerated: GED, violence prevention, and a barber training program.
- 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?