California’s Technical Violation Policy–Lessons for Alabama?


In an opinion piece published in yesterday’s NY Times, the point was made that, 

The heart of the problem is California’s poorly designed parole system. A vast majority of states use parole to supervise serious offenders who require close monitoring. California has historically put just about everyone on parole. According to a federally backed study released last year, more people are sent to prison in California by parole officers than by the courts, and nearly half of those people go back on technical violations like missed appointments and failed drug tests.

According to the 2009 Alabama Sentencing Commission report, in FY 2008,

1,546 probationers and parolees were revoked for technical violations, i.e., violating conditions of supervision other than commission of a new offense such as failure to report, failing drug tests, curfew violations, and late reporting.  The establishment of a Technical Violation Center for the next fiscal year is recommended…During FY 08, 347 parolees and 1,199 probationers were revoked…These persons have been returned to prison and can only be released via a parole consideration hearing by the Board or at expiration of sentence.  These numbers constitute a significant percentage of the new prison admissions each month and typically remain in the prison system for more than one year, at a cost of $15,136.55 per inmate. The [Technical Violation Center] facility would incorporate programs similar to those of the transition centers, but in a secure facility.  Success in the program would lead to reinstatement of probation and parole in a 60-90 period. 

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