Re: No federal parole

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Mon Jan 29 2001 - 14:08:31 MST

From: Charlie Stross <>

>>On Mon, Jan 29, 2001 at 11:29:33AM -0800, Brian D Williams wrote:
>> What's wrong with people who commit crimes serving their full
>> sentence?

>Three things:

>1. It makes it hard for prison officers to maintain order. (If
>your prisoners hope to get time off for good behaviour, they have
>a positive incentive to behave themselves. This is a very useful
>lever if you're thinking in terms of getting criminals to reform.
>It also makes it less likely that an inmate will attack a prison

While I would normally agree that positive reinforcement is to be
prefered, I think these are the very people on whom negative
reinforcement might be more effective, i.e. sentence extensions for
negative actions, make them responsible for their actions. How many
are fooled by the false hope parole often is.

>2. Where parole is abolished, it is seldom accompanied by a
>reduction in sentencing guidelines. If a regime exists where
>parole of up to 25% of the sentence is available, and parole is
>then abolished, this is almost never accompanied by a 25%
>reduction in sentences handed out by the courts. Thus, the net
>effect is to increase the severity of sentencing significantly.

I've never understood the parole system that well, every petty thug
can quote you how long he's likely to get for whatever crime they
are likely to commit, they already know the price and often can
make an excellent guess of how likely they are to get away with
what. This seems to be part of the problem.

I see no reason where any adjusting of sentence length can be part
of the same bill that does away with parole.

>3.It also _really_ pisses off and demotivates any inmates who've
>been behaving themselves in hope of qualifying for early release,
>just in time to be shafted by a change in the law -- see outcome
>#1 above.

No reason we can't change the rules and create a system where the
harder someone works at his own rehabilitation the shorter the
sentence. Say for starters getting a GED.

>Basically, as long as an inmate has something to *hope* for, they
>have an incentive to reform, behave themselves well, and return to
>civil society. Take away all rewards for cooperation, and why
>should they bother?

Sounds great in theory, works lousy in practice. I'm not saying
take away incentive, I'm saying change the incentive, the harder
you work to rehabilitate, the shorter the sentence. Sounds like it
might work better than trying to instill docile behavior.


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National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
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