Texas’ parole rate for convicted felons has reached new highs, with the approval rate topping 40 percent this spring after hovering in the high 20s for several years, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The parole rate for violent sex offenders reached nearly 60 percent in March. Officials say the higher parole rate is partly due to larger numbers of felons imprisoned in the past 20 years who are now reaching the end of their sentences, some dating from the three-strikes-and-you’re-out era of tough-on-crime laws enacted during the 1990s.
Officials are putting more of these convicts on parole to keep them under supervision and in treatment after they get out of prison, rather than have them walk out unsupervised. People familiar with the parole system said the gradual increase in rates in recent months highlights a trend: More convicts — especially those serving time for aggravated sex crimes — are being put in supervised treatment to ensure that they are not a threat to public safety after they get out. “Do you really want Uncle Creepy coming out after 20 years in prison with no supervision? No,” said Michele Belanger, a former parole official who works as a legal assistant in parole law in Huntsville.