Although many people use them interchangeably, there is a difference between parole and probation. Probation is prior to any sentenced jail time and typically involves paying a fine or completing a certain amount of community service, all the while living in one’s own home. Parole, on the other hand, deals with those who have already served part of their prison sentence and are now essentially being granted a monitored release for ‘good behavior.’
“No, I do know that when some of our offenders come home, they are required to attend something with the city, with the DAs, and they inform them basically what their rights are and how they can easily get in trouble again and have to be revoked if they’re on parole and sent back to prison, and that’s a good thing. But that’s about the only thing I know about. I don’t think there’s anything for prevention.” -Pat Prophitt
While parole and probation can both be a great relief to the offender and his or her loved ones, this is typically only the case when parole (or probation) is actually achieved. Otherwise as time goes by, people begin to question why their loved one hasn’t been released. And while sometimes it could be due to misconduct of the felon, the majority of times it’s simply due to a system that’s bogged down and overcrowded. Either way, this leads to great stress on both parties, and aggravates familial tension.
“When I was in the County Jail, others in the cell block with me said that ‘If you’re a first offender, you’ll probably make your first parole.’ Well that was generally true in 1990, but by ’93 or ’94, parole had basically slammed the door on releasing people. More from policy change than legislature change. And I did everything I could to show that I was reformed, that I had new goals, new ideals… I went through therapy programs that were offered to me, successfully completed those programs, took college courses, graduated, maintained a spotless disciplinary record.. I think people a lot of times think that when you’re not released on parole, you must not be behaving yourself or else they’d release you, but that isn’t true.” -Sheldon DeLuca
“I think they ought to give us more credit for the work we do. Their policy- most states and the federal government pay people for the work they do. They don’t pay them very much, but depending on the job you have, you get some kind of monetary compensation. Texas doesn’t. Texas is one of the very few states that doesn’t pay their inmates for the work they do. Everyday that I was incarcerated, I had a job. And I worked that job. I worked forty hour weeks. I worked in several different departments. I used skills and talents that I had gained outside and applied those skills diligently in order to help others and to help the system. None of that meant anything. They give you work credit, but that credit doesn’t move your parole date up.” -Sheldon DeLuca
As Mr. DeLuca mentioned, Texas inmates do not receive any sort of monetary compensation for the work they do within a prison. Instead, they are led to believe that they can earn an early parole through this work. The picture below shows Mr. DeLuca’s personal parole sheet… On the right hand side one can see that through all of the work he put in, he actually earned 202% of his parole (with the expectation being that you are released once 100% is reached).
Obviously, there are some issues to be had within the status quo parole system. The real question is what should be done to fix them?