Topic: Rethinking Probation and Parole as Alternative Methods to Incarceration
Earlier in this course, we discussed how to make a moral assessment of an action, particularly an individual’s behavior. For this assignment, we will analyze objective truths embedded in current criminal justice practices, specifically practices involving probation and parole. (A policy that unfairly harms individuals is not moral.) The United States criminal justice system has confined 2.3 million people (see Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019), precipitating the exploration of alternatives methods to incarceration. Probation and parole, thought to effective solutions to this problem, had their own punitive and, as we will explore, unconstitutional ramifications. Roughly half of the people who exit probation and parole exit successfully, however, many of those who are unsuccessful end up in prison or jail. In many states, probation and parole revocations are increasing incarceration rates (rather than helping to decrease mass incarceration). Contributing to these revocations are unrealistic conditions to probation, which could include fees for court, supervision, attorneys, drug testing, additional fines, and more. Long probation sentences can result in onerous debts. Some police departments and courts are turning to emerging technologies to assist them in their decision-making.
As you learned from the presentations in the Reading & Study folder, nearly 2% of the U.S. population is on parole or probation, and 30% of this group are African American (Horowitz, 2018). Since probation and parole are harming rather than helping individuals, in particular, new remedies are required. Emergent criminal justice research identifies some of the problems emanating from probation and parole practices and offers several solutions. We will be looking at two of these study topics.
Topic 1 – Mass Supervision – More than 4.6 million people in the United States are on probation and parole.
Topic 2 – Predictive Algorithms – Police departments and court systems are turning to science and technology to predict criminal behavior when making sentencing recommendations, predicting crime, recidivism, among other things.
For this assignment, discuss the issues unfolding from Topic 1 or Topic 2 (choose the topic that interests you most). The course materials in the Reading & Study folder for this week will help you understand the issues surrounding mass supervision and predictive algorithms. Refer to these materials for the source (4 in-text citations) requirement. After viewing these materials in the Reading & Study folder and choosing a topic, answer the following questions.
Topic 1 – Mass Supervision (Probation and Parole)
1. From your understanding, what was the original purpose for probation and parole?
2. Evaluate the consequences (potential or existing) of these practices. (What moral or constitutional issues are present?)
3. Discuss whether you believe probation and parole are still viable alternatives to incarceration in light of the consequences of these practices.
Topic 2 – Predictive Algorithms
1. From your understanding, what was the original purpose of the use of predictive algorithms?
2. Evaluate the consequences (potential or existing) of this practice. (What moral or constitutional issues are present?)
3. Discuss whether you believe predictive algorithms are still viable tools for criminal justice practitioners in light of the consequences of this practice.
Horowitz, J. (n.d.). 1 in 55 U.S. Adults Is on Probation or Parole. Retrieved from https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2018/10/31/1-in-55-us-adults-is-on-probation-or-parole
Sawyer, W., & Wagner, P. (n.d.). Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019. Retrieved from https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2019.html