The Pros and Cons of Parole

Essay by cbobxUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, April 2007

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Parole is a highly controversial issue in Australia and around the world. A likely cause for this controversy is the general public’s ignorance of the specifics where parole is concerned. Any casual observation of a local newspaper or current affairs program on TV will likely result in the discovery of a member of the public’s opinion of crime and criminals and the criminal justice system in general, and what they believe to be wrong with it and no doubt suggestions on how to fix it. These opinions will probably be biased in nature, and influenced by information supplied to them by various forms of media. This information does not necessarily reflect the reality of the situation regarding the parole system. Adding to this potential for misinterpretation is the fact that the parole system is rather secretive by nature, with publicity usually coming in the form of more “sensational” or newsworthy situations, such as high profile figures being released, or someone absconding while on parole, and especially when convicted sex-offenders or murderers are released early back into society.

These are typically the only situations where the general public has any knowledge of parole, and the connection tends to be a negative one.

Aside from public (mis)conceptions, parole has its share of difficulties in practical application. Deciding which prisoners are to be released and when is a very subjective process in which there is a large margin for error. It is impossible to predict with 100% accuracy whether a prisoner will re-offend or not, and it is only when the prisoner does re-offend that the public receives any information about the parole system, further adding to its negative image.

This paper will look at the pros and cons of parole, and attempt to demonstrate that its utilisation in Australia is as close...