Monday, July 13, 2015

Life Without Parole

Inside the secretive world of parole boards, where your freedom may depend on politics and whim.

America's prisons hold tens of thousands of people... people primarily confined not by the verdicts of a judge or a jury but by the inaction of a parole board. Michigan is one of 26 states where parole boards are vested with almost unlimited power to decide who gets out of prison when, and why.
 
With more than 1.5 million people behind bars, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and the financial costs are staggering. As politicians from both parties seek alternatives to mass imprisonment, the parole process has emerged as a major obstacle...
 
...Parole boards are vested with almost unlimited discretion to make decisions on almost any basis. Hearsay, rumor and instinct are all fair game...
 
...The boards' sensitivity to politics stems in part from the heavy presence of politicians in the ranks of board members. At least 18 states have one or more former elected officials on the board. In 44 states, the board is wholly appointed by the governor, and the well-paid positions can become gifts for former aides and political allies.
 
While some state laws require basic qualifications, these statutes are often vaguely worded, with language that is easily sidestepped. Many states have no minimum requirements at all.
 
And unlike politicians, who are bound by open records and disclosure laws and are accountable to their constituents, parole boards often operate behind closed doors. Their decisions are largely unreviewable by courts — or anyone else.
 
 
 

No comments: