Parole Failings Lead To “Cycle Of Violent Crime”


Although violent crime fell 13 percent in Los Angeles last year, author Joe Domanick doubts that “many black and Latino residents in the city’s poorest neighborhoods feel any safer today than they did a year ago, or will five years from today, unless radical changes are made in the way we think about crime prevention.” Domanick, a senior fellow at the University of

Southern California’s Institute for Justice and Journalism, notes that L.A. arrests have risen 13 percent over four years. Despite the fact that tens of thousands of young men and women have been imprisoned, he writes in the Los Angeles Times, “areas like South Los Angeles remain plagued by a cycle of violent crime that began in the mid-1960s.”

A major problem is that 65,000 to 70,000 parolees a year end up back in prison. Most prisoners eventually area released, but social services to assist parolees reentering society barely exist. As a result, ex-cons are unprepared to do anything other than commit another crime and go back to prison. “As you incarcerate a few people from a neighborhood, crime rates drop,” says Todd Clear of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “But when you remove ever higher numbers [for low-level crimes], crime starts to go up at a very high rate because you’re destabilizing a lot of [supportive family and financial] relationships. When high numbers of [parolees] are also being returned, [the neighborhood is hit with] a double whammy.” Domanick urges L.A. Police Chief William Bratton “to lobby hard for changes in California’s prison and parole policies, not just make more arrests.”


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