Critics Urge MD Probation, Parole Reform


Parole and probation guidelines in Maryland are often “onerous and inconsistent with rational expectations of behavior, setting up individuals for failure,” contends the Justice Policy Institute in a report on criminal justice in Baltimore. The institute compains that one in five Maryland inmates released on parole will return to prison, more than half for violations like missing appointments with parole officers, not paying fines, or failing drug tests. The institute says that citizens it interviewed about the problem urge providing “more services and support by developing a system of alternative sanctions, reducing caseloads, and reducing or eliminating fees associated with parole and probation.”

The recommendations were included in a report called “Bearing Witness,” based on interviews with people who have been involved in the justice system. The report also discusses the problems of incarcerated women, a public health approach to drug use and addiction, and “restorative justice.” Maryland has a “community conferencing” program that has involved 7,000 people in the restorative justice process.

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