College Case Study

Best Practices in Correctional Systems: A Case Study of Parole and Probation Supervisions at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women

A correctional system, also known as a penal system, is a network of agencies that administer a country’s or state’s prisons and community-based programs such as parole and probation services (Glaze & Palla, 1980). Such a system is usually a part of the larger criminal justice system that encompasses the police, prosecutors and the courts. The main purpose for the existence of a correctional system is to protect the population from dangerous individuals, punish sentenced offenders, reform these individuals and eventually reintegrate them back into society (Allen, Latessa, Eskridge & Vito, 1985). Correctional systems in America include correctional sex offenders programs, education, reentry, healthcare, substance abuse, mental health, and parole and supervision programs. For the purpose of this essay, I have chosen to focus on parole and probation supervision as a system of corrections. The case study of the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women is presented in order to elaborate on the elements that led to its success as well as the structure and design of its parole and probation supervisions program.

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            Firstly, parole refers to the releasing of a prisoner either for a short period due to a specific purpose or for a long period before completion of a prison sentence, for example, when he/she has demonstrated good behavior and promises to continue in a similar manner. Parole may be granted on general or specific grounds such as for medical reasons. For an offender to be granted parole by a court of law, he/ she must demonstrate obedience to the law, not use any drug or substance, refrain from contact with the victims of his/her sentenced crime, look for a source of employment and most importantly, maintain contact with an assigned parole officer. (Petersilia & Turner, 1993). On the other hand, probation refers to a form of sentencing in which offenders are allowed to remain in their homes and in their communities as opposed to being incarcerated or placed in detention centers. The sentencing judge determines the offender’s eligibility for probation based on previous offenses committed if any, the severity of the current offense and the offender’s observed behavior. Often, the court lays down rules or conditions that must be met by the offender during the probation period and he/ she must report to an assigned probation officer. Almost 70% of all offenders sentenced in America have been placed under probation or parole programs (Cohen & Gobert, 1999).

            An outstanding example of best practices in the realm of probation and parole supervision is the Louisiana Correctional Institute for women. This facility is located in St. Gabriel in the state of Louisiana in the United States. It was founded in 1961 on former prison land. In 1995, it was expanded to include double-bunk inmates. It is the only state-level prison in Louisiana that is exclusively for women. The parole and probations program in this facility is such that inmates are allowed to take up job opportunities both within and outside the prison with supervised positions in the surrounding communities. The supervised positions in the community allow for the release of prisoners on parole in order to continue attending to their duties at their new jobs. Some of the external working sites available to the inmates at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women include litter removal from state highways and janitorial and maintenance positions within the local government buildings in Baton Rouge. Internal jobs include working in the garment factory and in the culinary arts department of the prison. This approach to probations and parole has proved to be highly effective as demonstrated by the decreasing number of female and repeat offenders in Louisiana.

Evidently, the success of parole and probation programs in the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women has been strongly influenced by several factors. To begin with, parole has been strongly favored by the state through as demonstrated by legislative provisions that have been enacted with the aim of fast-tracking this process. The state’s parole and probation program have further been enhanced because of the growing recognition of the potential of these two methods in allowing for the decongestion of prisons. This enabling policy environment has created a situation where the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women has been able to maintain its inmate numbers at an optimum level to avoid putting a strain on its resources. Moreover, parole and probation practices are greatly favored by the inmates and members of their respective communities as it allows the offenders to find employment in order to continue providing for their families and dependents even as they serve the sentence for the crimes they have committed. It also enables the women to be close to their families and this situation brings about beneficial outcomes for the offenders’ young children. The success of the Institute’s parole and probation supervision system as a method of correction may also be attributed to the ability by the institution’s authorities to provide close supervision in all aspects of the women’s’ lives from family matters and social activities to the workplace. Besides, close supervision has helped the female offenders to reintegrate the former inmates back into the community and initiate the healing process for the aggrieved parties.

            Meanwhile, success at the corrections facility would never have been achieved without the right program in place. The program structure of the parole and probation supervision at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women is as follows. At the outset, a defendant’s case is heard and determined in a court of law overseen by a magistrate. Upon evaluation by the court to ensure that the offender has access to good living conditions, stable employment and assess her family members, he/she is sentenced to probation and assigned to a probation officer. The court, in liaison with the probation officer, sets out the rules for the probation period as well as duties that the offender will be required to perform. The offender under probation is instructed to make a point of ensuring that the requirement for regular meet-ups with the probation officer for review and evaluation is never violated. As for parole, the beneficiaries are women who are already serving a prison sentence in the facility, particularly those who have promised to uphold good behavior once they are granted the release. Each offender is assigned a parole officer who keeps a close eye on him/ her and all his/her activities. After both the parole and probation periods are over, the offenders are required to return to court where their parole and probation officers respectively give a report on their conduct. By adhering to this program, the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women has managed to emerge as a best-practice model for other corrections facilities.

            In conclusion, correctional systems are the backbone of a country’s criminal justice system. They provide an effective means of ensuring that peace and sanity prevail in society. Probation services serve as an alternative to incarceration or imprisonment while parole offers a lease of new life to prisoners and decreases congestion in prisons. The ‘user-friendliness’ of the parole and probation system arises from its role in allowing offenders to continue with their normal lives. The case of the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women demonstrates that if granted proper supervision and policy support, parole and probation programs can turn into success stories within the country’s criminal justice system. Besides, the case study shows that the use of best practices in terms of a design that is carefully and conscientiously planned can lead to the emergence of an effective and successful correctional program that guarantees the safety and security not only of civilians outside of prison walls but also of the offenders themselves.

References

Allen, H. E., Latessa, E. J., Eskridge, C. W., & Vito, G. F. (1985). Probation and parole in America. London: Routledge.

Cohen, N. P., & Gobert, J. J. (1999). The law of probation and parole. New York, NY: West Group.

Glaze, L. E., & Palla, S. (1980). Probation and parole in the United States. Population1(4), 12-29.

Petersilia, J., & Turner, S. (1993). Evaluating Intensive Supervision Probation/Parole: Results of a Nationwide Experiment. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.

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