The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday about a study released by the California Department of Corrections about paroled felons. The study found that 47.5% of persons on parole are back behind bars within a year, and a total of 67.5% are back within three years.
What the Chronicle also reports later in the article, is that a full 70 percent of the reincarcerations are for violations of parole, not criminal conduct. Things like not getting home before curfew and failing to come to a meeting. People can languish in prison at taxpayers’ expense even for minor, and inadvertent, violations of their parole. If you ask me, this is a colossal waste of taxpayer funds and disruptive to our communities. I see too many people trying to make a fresh start, holding down jobs and going to school, only to have their lives ripped apart by parole officers who have no discretion or senses of proportion. Instead of violating people, and making ever-more onerous rules, in a petty game of “gotcha,” parole officers should be providing the services and support people need to adjust to the demands, stresses and responsibilities of life on the outside.