Thursday, September 28, 2006

Integrity in the Performance of Parole Board Functions

The function of parole boards is a critical aspect in overseeing the process of releasing criminals from prison. This process must be accomplished with integrity and concern for the public which has been victimized by the criminals before the board. Everyone in prison has the right, within the boundaries established, to be heard before a parole board for possible release after a period of time. The parole board must take into account the details of the crime and the potential for harm to the public if a prisoner is released.

There are many crimes which have been so devastating to the victims that the criminals in prison should not be granted parole. However, it does not mean that they do not have the right to be considered for parole.

Parole boards must consider the possibilities of paroling individuals who may go out and commit the same type of crime or another and be back in prison. Parole boards must act with integrity and compassion when reviewing criminals for possible parole. When making a decision to parole an individual compassion for the victims of the crimes connected with the criminal before they should be involved in the decision. Many times the criminal is given priority in determining the granting of a parole without considering the victims of the crime.

These boards are not the only responsible organization within the criminal justice system. Judges, the court system and legislatures are involved in the process of making criminal pay for their crimes. Judges must set sentences within the boundaries of the law and legislatures must make sure that adequate laws are in place to require minimum sentences for specific types of crimes. Crimes that are devastating both to the victims and the communities in which they occurred should require that a minimum amount of time should be served.

Parole boards must look at the nature of the crime and the type of requirements imposed on the criminal before them in the determination to grant parole. Examples are those that commit crimes that have a devastating impact on the lives of their victims or their communities. One example is where fraud is committed against our older generation by taking their money with no real hope of increasing their investment. Another is where people are building homes but are not paying the subcontractors involved in the process.

In summary parole boards must apply compassion for the victims of crimes associated with the individual they are considering for parole. All criminals have a right to have a hearing for possible parole. However, judges and the legislatures, where applicable, must establish minimum sentences for specific crimes which have devastated their victims and their communities. Judges with options within the established laws must consider the element of compassion for the victims of a crime. Compassion is something that I feel has not been used within the current legal system in focusing on the victims. Integrity applies to this segment as the right decisions must be made with regard to criminal behavior and the impact on the victims. Victims need to be considered more when establishing sentences and the consideration of granting a parole.


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