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Dr. David Ward, professor of criminal justice at University of Minnesota, speaking on possible techniques to standardize and equalize the now very arbitrary process of parole. Speech was given at a quarterly meeting of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, where Ward was the keynote speaker.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

I have the opportunity of introducing somebody who I think that you already know. So I don't spend a lot of time at it Dave Ward is past chairman of the University Minnesota. They passed that around periodic table has been with the Minnesota here now since 1965 coming from at UCLA.Is a PhD as you know, and he's what you obtained from University of Illinois. He has published a number of books and articles the ones that I have a my bookshelf and recall best. The first one I read was women's prison which deals with some of the problems that we hold of us who operate the single-sex institution particularly, in this case. He was published. I think the next book that at least I received was the reader I would do it. She co-authored with a view that delinquency crime and the social process and the most recent one was prison treatment and paroles success. Do I have it, correct?Survival email writing he had difficulty remind me that I love it too so I can say Punta in a California Institution and was any published about a year-and-a-half two years ago something of that kind of topic is going to be a probation and it's a liability with us today and keep us at The Cutting Edge.Well, I suppose you're thinking. There they are over at the University. We know they want to shut down all the prisons and now they want to do away with Probation and Parole. And what I want to tell you is that the title is just a provocative title to get you here for lunch and that while I'm not going to talk about strengthening at probation and parole. I am going to review some of the proposals that have been made in this country and in several European countries to radically change probation end and parole. and let me say at the outset that I think one of the functions of the University one of its critical functions is to gather material of this short to be a place in which new ideas can be can be discussed and one little change that the criminal justice studies department is going to inaugurate this year that I communicate to you because it will involve you I hope is the we've had some really excellent speakers come to the university people who are the nationally recognized Authorities on different aspects of the criminology in the administration of Criminal Justice. Last year, we had a number of them and we gave her an evaluation form to students in a class who had had four of these presentations by nationally or sometimes internationally-recognized authorities. What are the things we realized is that that the students are so used to having well-known people come to the university and their experience is so limited that what we really have been doing I think is providing some entertainment for them. They evaluate these people in terms of you know, this one was more interesting this one told better stories. This one had a friendly or manner. So we've decided on the basis of our own feeling that we were really exposing our visitors to the wrong audience that why we while we will because we're using University funds find a way for students to have access to visitors that when these people come we want to expose the more to the people who were working in the various criminal justice agencies. And to that end we have this fall at a seminar with a visiting Professor who is in my judgment. The Western world's leading Authority on punishment and deterrence that's right. And I really study punishment over the university very difficult, very provocative subject and it represents a new effort for us and that it involves a number of people who are criminal justice agency administrators. Can Bob Johnson Anoka County attorney. Sue Sedgwick was the judge Know Jack Jensen the new police chief of Minneapolis several members of the state legislators and 10 faculty members representing eight different disciplines all to essentially work together under the direction of this outstanding Authority on the punishment end and deterrence and what we have decided to do as we've invited for students to sit in on that seminar to so that we will not be accused of denying access. Do what to wear visiting Professor for students? We hope to do more of that sort of thing. And I assure you that has the speakers come in. We'll make sure that you know about them and I hope you'll be able to come over and listen to with some of them or perhaps. Some of them can come and talk to you and wherever you're located. well to get on with the with the report hear. What I'm I'm going to do is to review some of the proposals to abolish parole and to abolish parole boards as a part of that to indicate what some of the proposals are. Some of you probably are are familiar with them and then to indicate that while these proposals must be seen as part of overall efforts at Criminal Justice Reform. That is nobody saying let's abolish parole with a current sentencing structure the length of sentences the problems in the prisons. So I hope that's understood from the beginning that the proposals here generally come out in the form of intermediate proposals and long-range proposals the long-range proposals that involve the abolition of parole involve also, the reorganization of many other aspects of the administration of Criminal Justice. And probation I'll talk about a bit further on and they're the proposal is not so much to abolish probation as the proposals are designed to to try to do away with a conflict between the law enforcement of surveillance aspects of a supervision and those of trying to be an advocate and help the people who are on the supervision and there are several very interesting efforts to to meet this issue. So let me say in the beginning then that we're not talking about the let's start right away by eliminating both of these these mechanisms. Okay first parole. The what a major report on parole has been done by citizens group in New York state Group chaired by Ramsey Clark members of that task force include some of the best for search people as well as some working Corrections people land at least one member of the task force has a name familiar to people here in Minnesota. And that's it David Fogel. Now the New York citizens group but has reported some 300 Pages very detailed. I think very very carefully done and I want to review briefly what some of their arguments are and I say is a footnote one of the reasons for paying attention. I think is that some of the lawyers who are most Adept at suing Departments of Corrections are members of this task force in if you want to see what's on the litigation Horizon then you can look at this report. The main argument that is made is that the assumptions upon which parole is based are not valid that parole is based on the assumption that there are in prison meaningful social and psychological and other kinds of programs that inmates will participate in them and that staff members will be able to make some kind of judgment as to whether the treatment has taken or not and that a parole board will then be able to with that information make a judgment as to whether the inmate is ready to be ready to be released. And the New York commission report argues that there just is simply no evidence. That first we that have successful programs or secondly that anyone can predict accurately human behavior. And that's one of the questions that I have parole boards is that they have gotten themselves involved in an impossible task. And furthermore that they're the the problems and making those judgments that is coming up with a prediction that somebody's going to behave in a certain way which no psychiatrist or psychologist the sociologist in his right mind would be caught dead doing without 150 qualifications for each year for each protection the parole board continue to do. Well one of the things that that that they do is they do their work almost invisibly now. I know Lou Lindy and I know several other members of the the parole board, but that's my business in a way to 210 people and have some interaction but I'll bet that most of the citizens of the state of Minnesota would not be able to identify the parole board members. That is I don't know who they are and they don't know what they do. And they don't know whether the board is successful or not and making it in making its predictions. Now the board really doesn't know whether it's successful or not because the board is in the same position that the psychiatrist who appears before a court in having to make a prediction of dangerousness is in that is every time the psychiatrist is asked you think this man is a or woman is a danger to himself or herself or to the community and the psychiatrist says yes, that person is confined. There's no test of the accuracy of the predictions. We don't say. Alright, we're going to take a randomly-selected sample, and we're going to keep half the people on the streets and the rest of them will go to an institution. So we'll see how accurate your predictions are. And for parole boards, we say we have not had that kind of research where the board is said. Yes. We think this person will make it or won't make it with the exception of the interesting and I think important report done by Mr. Hudson on prediction of experience of people who came out of juvenile institutions in the state that with supervision and and without witches. I understand it was confined to a group of people who the board regarded as as good risks can understand the political problems here. If not of the board not wanting to release so-called bad risks. The point is that we really don't have evidence of the accuracy of those predictions that certain people will be bad risks. Well, one of the questions that has been off and raised in regard to predictions is a question of statistical predictions. And for those of you who remember the the suit brought by lamp against the Department of Corrections regarding the parole board if I recall the discussion, which I guess was a year ago or or more one of the proposals made by the inmates was that we substitute the statistical prediction for the Judgment of the board based on whatever data and reports by case workers and so forth it had it had available. And the question of statistical prediction is an interesting one and I want to speak about it quite briefly and I referred for you to to record if you are interested in what I think is the best overview of this issue. You might look at this little l e a a report called parole decision making the utilization of experience and parole decision making a progress report. This is by several of the very best researches in this topic in the United States, Don gottfredson and Aunt Leslie Wilkins or one of the things that that this project involved was an effort to find out something about predictions used by the US border parole, which agreed to participate in this in this experiment. But as part of this report to gottfredson and Wilkins and their Associates the survey the number of departments including the state of Minnesota on a variety of topics. And one of the topics was the question to the degree to which statistical prediction was included in parole decision making in terms of its priorities and they had a list of 101 items. For the u.s. Parole board the statistical prediction ranked 68th and importance and for the sample of states in which Minnesota is buried somewhere. I'm not sure where or what the Minnesota ranking was particularly the rating for the sample of states with 70th in importance. Well that's significant for several reasons. One of them is the most obvious one is that statistical predictions have been and in most studies has been demonstrated to be more accurate than then clinical predictions. Furthermore the report here indicates that with some additional data, they could be made even more accurate and this is a relatively new business based on the ability to to use the computer and one of the questions that is raised for parole board to see question as to why they have not used my experience predictions or statistical predictions to assist the board in making a judgment for some people statistical predictions are tied in with the proposal that my understanding has been implemented in California. And that is that every person who comes before the board should be considered as ready to go out on parole unless the board can provide compelling reasons for keeping that person in longer that is rather putting the burden rather on then I'll need the prisoner or the parole of prospective parolee to two. To sell his case to put it on the board to De to indicate the reasons that the person should not receive for all but to get to get back to the statistical prediction part suppose that that we were able to tell you you on the parole board in in the Department of Corrections that this offender was in a category in which 70% of the people would likely succeed on parole and that's the kind of prediction you get, right? We don't we don't tell you. Yes. This man will make it already or he won't give you a prediction in terms of the category into which he falls in what we know about the experience with those of people with those characteristics in that in that category. Well the answer to this as proposed by some legal Scholars and the social scientists is that that the state legislature or whatever the appropriate the statutory Authority is should should make a decision. They should say we are not going to keep into prison anyone who is in a category in which 70% or more of the persons are expected to successfully survived parole. That the decision become a statistical decision that is you run the characteristics of the of the prospective parolee through a computer if he is in the 70% or above category he goes out. Otherwise, he stays in now that's one way of removing all all discretion from the proboard. The Moore intermediate proposal is to provide statistical predictions to try to increase their accuracy and to test continually predict predictions of the board of a parole board against the tistical predictions. Now there are some problems with this and they as usual I hate to say it but because we're always saying it but it waits on more research. We need to have more research on the factors that go into go into prediction. Let me cite just briefly what the gottfredson and Wilkins Wilkins report indicate are some of the offender attributes that discriminate between favorable and unfavorable outcome prologue come and just just listen to them for for the for the kind of data that it it represents. That is what part of the offender's experiences represented the commitment defense whether the case has a new case or parole violator the history of probation or parole violations Time free in the community without commitment prior records of commitment sentences in incarceration prior juvenile delinquency convictions employment history prison custody classification punishment record and Escape history prior history of mental hospital confinement and aspects of the parole plan. Out one thing should be should be apparent from this and that is that of those items which have predictive value. There are only two that relate to the experience of imprisonment. The only to the relay here are prison custody classification and the punishment record Anna and Escape history. Well what that clearly indicates is that we are either all wrong about imprisonment that is it is a neutral experience that doing 5 or 10 years and still water or San Quentin for Attica or wherever that it's a myth. This is harmful or myth that it's that it's helpful that prison is a neutral experience that it is only characteristics and experiences prior to imprisonment that a meaningful. Well, I think the argument to that is that it shows that we have been unable. To get items that measure the impact of imprisonment. That is we have not been able to put in quantitative turns terms some measure of the inmates inmates behavior in prison. Now, this is this is not a new issue when we tried in California due to come up with items measuring such a characteristics that sociologists like to talk about like whether an inmate is a politician or a merchant to a right guy and those things, you know from the from the prison literature we found it very difficult to find things in inmate files voluminous files. It's very difficult to find ways to to find out whether an inmate is is a smart operator or a good con because good cons. Don't get caught and good Merchants don't they have their records end up don't have their actions being officially report it. So there are problems then and coming up with measures of experience in prison, which should strengthen can considerably the the predictive value of these of the scale. Well, what do we know about the accuracy of board predictions again, perhaps things are different in Minnesota, but in California where most of this research has been done according to dick Mcgee studies show that the board is not any more accurate in making a prediction of success on parole or or not whether the offender has been in for 5 weeks or 5 years. That is all that added time in prison does not increase the accuracy of their predictions. Well, we also know that that in those cases where clinical predictions have been have been Advanced that they do not stand up well against clinical predictions and against the decide to California research again, an interesting little project in which the experience Correctional administrators predictions. We're also matched against statistical predictions, you know, the the statement made by a custody administrators are experienced correctional officers that they know this guy and they know the kind of guy he is and I know whether he's going to make it or not and this study made an effort to find out whether their predictions were more accurate than the statistical predictions now their predictions were were at least as accurate as those of the clinical professionals. But neither group was as accurate as statistical predictions the argument here being simply then that's the tistical predictions for some persons are Advanced as a way of doing away with discretion their Advance by other person's as a way of trying to introduce some specific criteria into parole decision-making. They are introduced by others as a as a means of it as a kind of evidence that parole board should should have in making decisions that that all recognize sometimes involve issues that have nothing to do with the offender but have to do with the concerns of the bureaucracy or have concerns with that or have political concerns so-called notorious offenders being a being an example Well the argument here then that parole that that somehow we can determine when a man is ready to make it on the streets that in the absence of specific criteria is leading lawyers to look at the at this aspect of the of parole as an area right for litigation to to argue and to argue fruit suits that parole board's have got to be very specific that the Criterion need discussion to legislators have abrogated this responsibility almost completely they generally have a line that's very ambiguous that when the person is ready to resume his role as a as a law-abiding citizen in the community has nothing in the statute that guides the board in terms of in terms of criteria in in most States. well one thing then our criteria do not assume for a minute to go back to the original argument that that that those who want to abolish parole are are in favor of this. This is just an intermediate measure on the way to the to the to the abolition of parole. Now another argument that has been made about about a parole is that the community supervision and of it is also a failure well to get to the Community Supervision part of it here. The argument is made that and it's certainly a familiar one to everyone in Corrections that we have the parole officer trying to do the impossible and that is to be a law enforcement officer and to be a helping professional at the same time the Dilemma that has been in the literature for four decades. So here are the proposals again and talking about abolishing parole do not do not are not intended to do away with the services that are provided to Parolees that is what they would not get assistance, but it is designed to change the role of the of the parole agent. And in the the New York citizens commission would refer to this. Role as someone who is he as a community service advisor? One of the things that they are group did was they try to find out in how many cases of people under supervision did the parole agent actually find the parolee a job? And how many cases did he actually himself find housing? That is a measure of the up some very fundamental services that parole parole and apartments are supposed to provide. Well, the argument here would be that that the so-called that that the parole division or parole department would be abolished in favor of these community service Advocates that they would not be responsible to the Department of Corrections in the they would have no law enforcement function that is they would not be responsible for surveillance or keeping Parolees hewing to parole conditions which brings up another area under which litigation can be predicted. And that is the vague and ambiguous conditions that are written into parole parole contracts and the lack of due process rights that that parolees have and number of of areas for litigation that have been suggested here would be the rights of privacy of Parolees and providing them with the same. Due process rights that that other citizens have well. If one we're going to remove the law enforcement aspect which are the New York group contends is a failure that is that it does not perform the law enforcement function effectively. If you look at how Parolees get back to prison in almost all cases, it's a result of of surveillance and the apprehension by the police and not by the not by the parole division. And if one looks also at the studies of the success that the parole parole officers have had in providing counseling and other kinds of rehabilitative in quotes services are then the argument can be made that on both these grounds parole Supervision in the community has been a failure and I don't think there is any need here to review the literature on on the degree to which a reduction in the caseload of parole officers will really real. Dalton more offender staying staying on the streets and out of prison. There was a very substantial amount of research. There is also a very substantial amount of research are the showing that the weather people are released under supervision or not really doesn't make much difference and that comes from a number of jurisdictions. Incidentally. I I should mention here that I guess I guess take McGhee second the second part of his report has not been published in federal probation. Is that right? Now? I'm indebted to commissioner shown for letting me see the second part of Dick McGee's interesting article which calls for radical change of the of the approval system and that you'll get a chance to see his proposals which are quite specific and I think drawn up so that people could see how they could relate immediately to to well legislation in the next issue of federal probation. Well, they McGee's argument to along with many many others is there is not evidence that we can justify supervision on the grounds that had that the rehabilitation in quotes again results that what parole agents are to be doing is eliminating the law enforcement surveillance aspect that they ought to be providing community services and they ought to be acting as advocates and all of this ought to be on a voluntary basis that people should not be compelled to get to take advantage of of any of these Services. Well, let's move on a step from the problems with with parole supervision and the the Dual role of the parole officer in the enemy speak just briefly about the probation officer because the issue is is a similar one. McGee's proposal would call for four people to be under the supervision of probation officers, but the question Still Remains Still Remains as to whether probation officer should perform a law enforcement function. And here there are two proposals one of which has been implemented in European countries that are I mentioned for your consideration. And these are these are rather dramatic as I think penal policies and programs are in Scandinavia and and and in Holland as far as I'm personally concerned they are the places to look for a RAV4 remodels in the course of doing some work this summer for the Ford Foundation which took me around the country and talking to most of the of the correctional establishment. If you ask people in this country, what states they think are the most Innovative as far as Corrections are concerned, they all mentioned Minnesota. So things look good in other states in the state of Minnesota. So I realize this is a matter of relative deprivation where if you are one of the advanced States then where do you look and I guess my proposal is that you have to look outside of the country. And the particularly to Scandinavia and to and to Holland. Let me review very very briefly hear the proposals that have been made in Finland by the Finish criminal care committee, which speaks to the issue of Staff members performing a both treatment in the surveillance punishment surveillance and law enforcement will their proposal is that probation be abolished that is the probation service be abolished and that those persons who would receive it quote probationers people under supervision with some conditions from the court should get the services of the regular Public Service welfare social service agencies that they should not be a probation Service as such. Now there is a recognition here that the may be limitations in those services that that persons under record supervision might have trouble getting them and a committee has been established to make sure that those services are available but through the public agencies. That that if surveillance is required, it should be done by the police departments that that is not the not the that that also is not the function of the public service welfare social service agencies. That offenders should not go to jail. If they violate the conditions of a suspended sentence if the usual punishment for the new offenses of fine or probation or suspended sentence. But if a new crime is involved offenders should serve time for suspended sentences and the new offense concurrently. That it's only if you do away with the surveillance aspect of supervision that probationers will seek the services on a voluntary basis of the helping professions if they can go without the fear that if they tell the truth it may result in apprehension. They proposed further the probation should be given to those who would to all those who would ordinarily get a six-month sentence. And the probation should involve reporting to the police at frequent intervals in The Proposal in Finland is a two or three times a week, but that's the surveillance part of it and it'll be a function for the police that probation is to be regarded as a short life but strong warning and should last no longer than it should be no less than three months and no longer than then nine months Social Services should be concentrated on such things as as housing rent subsidy should be given to to a Parolees that time in prison should qualify an inmate for unemployment for pension benefits and the long-term prisoners should be regarded often as unemployable as invalids are and that they should be able to get invalid pensions. The pre-sentence investigation should be done by the police and a special psychological and social information is needed by the court. This should be contracted out or should be obtained by prison psychologist or psychologist in Mental Health institution. So the Finish proposal and Anna and I and II would want to emphasize that that that Finland has compared to Sweden and Denmark Denmark. What we would call is a no-nonsense prison system every prisoner that starts out in a maximum-security prison in Finland starts out with four months and isolation. That's just to let you know that you've arrived in the prison system there a penalty for escape is a very simple one you go back and start serving the sentence all over again. So you either escaped early in your term or you spend a long long time doing the original sentence. It's a very very tough prison system compared to compare to West Sweden and Denmark and Norway its system where violence is more of an issue where the guards at the Maximum Security Prison are armed unlike the Thea prisons in the other Scandinavian countries. So this is this is not to be confused with those marvelous reports at your I was hearing about Sweden and Denmark. This is a system when which American spends can feel much more comfortable Finland, but they're their proposal here is at least by the standards of most American states rather radical one. Well, let me move to something that is a sort of in-between what has been proposed in Finland and what might be current practice here in Minnesota and that is to talk briefly about the change that has already occurred and been implemented in Holland. We're by the probation service has been removed from the correctional Department. It is now a separate agency separately funded. And the probation department probation officers are to act as advocates for their clients and Advocates hear extend to the exclusion of information from a pre-sentence report that the client wants to be wants to have excluded that is you use as his Advocate to her advocate. You do not put in anything that he or she doesn't want to be in there you you can advise the the client that the court May frown on this the absence of this information, but but you are that person's advocate So the the law enforcement and surveillance aspect here has been removed by again referring it to the police and by establishing a probation department as a separate Department, which is to work providing Community Services on a voluntary basis. And where advocacy is is the the order of the day 12th. Let me just say that in connection with the with all of this discussion of of a parole as part of a of a prison system, which has come under serious attack that that other aspects involving discretion are under attack. It's not just parole board's lewittes judges who are also going to come under attack here and one of the predictions hear run out of statistical one, but the political prediction is that it's not going to be very long before the federal courts, at least the federal courts. The judges will be required to spell out in Detail the reasons for their sentencing practices. That is why they have decided to give this particular sentence and they've got to be specific and indicate what the criteria are so that those can be examined. So the area of discretion and the administration of Criminal Justice is still one that is that is of interest to prison reformers. My own view is that the person that the public interest and the interest of legislators and prison reform is falling back to to a much lower Point than it was a few years ago, but it should be well aware that there are a lot of law students who have come through law school now and we've been sensitized to problems in the in the criminal area that there are still a lot of lawyers around to a looking for new Commissioners to sue the suit that that you have in this state that is currently in the bands but probably won't be for too much too much longer and I think you're going to have to confront very directly the question of parole supervision and and even more directly the question of what are the criteria that are used by Boards and how you can defend the accuracy of those of those predictions. I think with a towel stop. Bender ask you if you have some questions and to the extent that I can respond or at least refer you to more authoritative sources, I would be happy to do that.


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