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California Has New Approach to Parole Violations

In the past, violations of parole often meant a trip back to prison for a short stretch, 5 months or so,  then a release. However, there were often repeated violations before the return to prison and, in addition, during the short prison stretch the violations received no rehabilitation measures.

However, under the new procedure currently being evaluated in the Sacramento area parole violators are being sent to the county jail for brief time periods every time they break a rule or test positive for drug use.

The Silicon Valley Mercury News reports:

“Under the state’s trial program, recently released criminals are required to show up at a parole office for drug testing as often as six times a month for 13 months. Those who test positive for drug use, skip appointments with their parole officers, fail to attend 12-step or anger-management programs, or have other technical violations are handcuffed immediately and sent to jail for up to six business days.

Those sent to jail more than three times within a short period are generally considered for a drug treatment programs or returned to state prison. Those who commit new crimes or more serious violations, such as fleeing, also can be sent back to prison.”

The fact that the results are immediate and happen on every parole violation apparently works better than the threat of a longer time in prison sometime in the future.

This appears to be particularly with the parolees having problems with drug use.

Supporters of the program say it is the swiftness and certainty of the punishment that seem to make the difference. Parolees outside the program are tested on average once per month, and a positive drug test may or may not result in revocation of their parole.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out long term.

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