While there are a number of offenders that continue on in their life of crime after they are released from incarceration, there has been no increase in crime nationally in the past 30+ years, even though the number of ex-prisoners released from incarceration has increased from 180,000 in 1980 to over 700,000 today. A recent study in Louisiana found that slightly over one-third of those on parole were rearrested for a violent crime, but this represented less than 2 percent of all the arrests for violence statewide. A national study did estimate that they were a much greater part of arrests overall, between 10 and 16 percent. But nonetheless, as previously stated, there has been no real increase in the crime rate.
While this is true, parolees are re-arrested for committing crimes quite often. Recent figures show that less than half of those who are released from prison nationally remain arrest-free for three years. Because many of these arrests are minor, almost half of the arrested parolees successfully complete their supervision terms. Further, of 400,000 of those on parole who terminated supervision in 1995, 60 percent were not returned to prison.
There are a number of things that can be done to help parolees get on the right track such as programs that aid in controlling substance abuse, that help find steady work and that get them involved in community support systems. A program that is run by the California Department of Corrections has helped many parolees get on their feet and has reduced the rate of recidivism among parolees. The Preventing Parolee Crime Program (PPCP) is made up of six networks of service providers that offer drug abuse treatment, job training and placement, math and literacy skill development, and housing. Although the PPCP’s different networks are varied in their specific treatment goals and activities, together they have integrated many goals into one statewide program that has helped to reduce the high rates of recidivism and re-incarceration among parolees. This and thousands of other programs like it make it possible for ex-offenders to have a second chance.
All in all, while society as a whole generally goes along with the idea that parolees are a danger to their community, the numbers indicate that actually less than half are a menace, and their offenses are usually minor ones. Isolated incidences, like that arrest and conviction of Richard Allen Davis for the brutal murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, and the rape of 4-year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey lead society to generalize all parolees into one stereotype group of incessant offenders.