Every month in New Jersey about 145 people skip out on parole supervision, failing to show up to meetings or leaving low-security community programs, says the Newark Star-Ledger. Some stay clean. Others commit new crimes, from dealing drugs to murder. In a new partnership between the state parole board and the U.S. Marshals Service, called the first of its kind in the U.S., the parole board folded almost its entire fugitive unit into the local marshals task force, pooling their resources to round up hundreds of parole absconders.
Failing to show up for a parole meeting is hardly a serious offense. Officials treat it as a warning sign, saying tracking down parole violators helps prevent future crime. “If you're out there on the run, you're not going to get legitimate employment,” said parole board chairman James Plousis. “You're going to have to find a way to survive. And in some cases, that's criminal activity.” As of Friday there were 527 people missing from parole supervision. That's 3.3 percent of the board's 15,904-person caseload, down from 4 percent at the beginning of the year and lower than the 6 percent nationwide average, says a 2008 Bureau of Justice Statistics report.