V. Types of Community Correction Programs at Reentry
Community corrections programs assist offenders in community reentry after they have spent time in prison. Two of them are discussed here: a pre-release facility and parole.
A. Pre-Release Facility
A pre-release program is a minimum-security residential facility where offenders can live and work and be closely supervised by authorities. Pre-release facilities are also known as community centers, halfway houses, and residential community correction facilities. A 6- to 12-month stay in a halfway house allows time for offenders to gradually adjust to freedom, obtain employment, and save money for independent living on parole. Pre-release facilities provide access to various community services that can help offenders with drug and alcohol dependency, job interviewing, or budgeting. Through a semi-structured environment, prerelease facilities allow offenders temporary passes to leave the facility for a variety of reasons, including to reestablish family relationships; find affordable housing; secure employment; obtain a bus pass, identification, eyeglasses, or medication; and reconnect with other social service and community agencies. Residents are often expected to pay for treatment services and subsidize their living expenses with money earned from their job. The goal of pre-release facilities is for the offender to receive parole or some form of post-release supervision (Alarid & Reichel, 2008).
B. Parole and Post-Release Supervision
Parole is defined as the discretionary release of an offender by a parole board of 3–12 people before the expiration of his or her sentence. In deciding whom to release, the parole board considers factors such as the offender’s conduct and participation in rehabilitative programs while in prison, the offender’s attitude toward the crime, whether there is a solid release plan (housing, work, etc.), the reaction of the victim to the offender’s release, and the need to provide space in the prison to receive newly sentenced prisoners (Petersilia, 2001).
A second form of supervision is called mandatory release, which is an automatic release to the community when a prisoner has completed a certain percentage of his or her sentence. While a parole board decides whom to release and who will stay in prison longer, mandatory release follows the law established by legislators in each state. Supervised mandatory release is used in states where parole boards have been abolished or where the parole board has limited powers with certain violent crimes. The rate of mandatory releases now outpaces discretionary releases (Petersilia, 2001).
Both forms of supervision involve conditions such as requiring the parolee to report to the parole officer; to get permission to move, change jobs, or leave the area; prohibition from having weapons; and so forth. Many parole or post-release conditions are similar to probation conditions discussed in a previous section. There is also the same possibility of revocation should the offender violate any conditions or commit a new crime. In the supervision of parolees, parole officers perform tasks similar to those done by probation officers. The two positions are enough alike that in the federal system and in most states, probation and parole departments are combined.