Studies that compare recidivism rates between parolees and unconditionally released inmates typically attach these statuses upon release, and then follow these groups until they either fail or meet the censor date. However, this method of identifying former inmates as parolees does not comport with how parolees are conceptualized by the agencies that supervise them. Parole boards identify parolees as released inmates whom they actively supervise. This study explores the relative impact of this strategy of attaching the parole status compared with the traditional strategy used throughout the recidivism literature. I use 3 years of postrelease data from all prisoners released from 2005 to 2007 in a highly populated state on the East Coast (N = 29,299). My findings indicate that after 3 years, parolees are predicted to recidivate at a 1% lower rate compared with unconditionally released inmates when the time of active supervision is not considered. However, parolees who are assigned supervision terms of at least 3 years evidence a predicted 8% lower recidivism rate when compared with unconditionally released inmates. These findings demonstrate that parole boards can be successful at isolating those under their active supervision from reengaging in criminal activities when compared with those who are not supervised post-release, but that parole does not have long-lasting rehabilitative effects. This lack of long-term impact is likely associated with a parole board's focus on offenses that occur solely during the course of active supervision that may create incentive to manage cases in such a way that undermines the pursuit of long-term rehabilitative goals in favor of working toward short-term successful discharges.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- community supervision