Vancouver Institute Lectures

Parole problems [typescript] Street, T. George 1973

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SPEECH TO TUEVANCOUVER INSTITUTEATTHEUNIVERSITY OFBRITISH COLUMBIAONJANUARY 27,1973BYT.G. STREET, CHAIRMANOF TUE NATIONALPAROLE BOARD,OTTAWA(Not tobe released before11:30p•r,EST, or8:30 mPacific Time)[I am quite pleased to have this opportunityofdiscussing parole with you. Asyou are aware parolehas been receiving considerable attentionof late. SometimesI feel that we on the NationalParole Board are in theposition of damned if you doand damned if you don’t.But two things are veryclear. First — crime isfast becoming one of the greatdilemmas of our society.And second - the public, the police,the judiciaryand the press are all quiteconcerned about parole.It is a sad commentary thatin this century,with all the significant advancesin our scientific andsociological skills, we have failedso miserably infinding a more effectivesolution to this ever increasingdilemma.When you think of the tremendouscost ofcrime, the loss of property, themisery, the pain and• suffering and the wastageof human lives, the totalconsequences are staggering.For many of us, things are in thebalance. Weare weighing traditional libertiesand methods against anincreasing need to preventcrime by a variety of moresuppressive methods.—2—Let me set the scene for thedilemma in whichwe find ourselvesWe are in the midst of rapid socialchange, andany such change, especially the one we areexperiencing,can be highly disruptive to asociety. Social breakdown,including crime, is one of the. resultsof this rapidchange.We are living in what has been called the post—industrial society, where life-styles ofleisure and work,and our moral values, are constantlybeing questioned andrevised.One might expect that with the advances oftechnology, ranging from high-speeed computers andcommunications networks, to new locking devices andindividualdefence systems, and with the specialization of professions,we would be in a better position to solve the problemofcrime. .Indeed, we now have the means to prevent morecrime and to detect more criminals than ever before, butwedo not seem to be able to use them. We may be betterpreparedbut the problem has become more complex.We are buffeted by two currents of thought:—3—On one side this is a profoundlibeji1ization ofsocial values - indeed, some wouldconsider it to beexcessive permisiveness and individualfreedom.On the other side, thereis a longing forharsher treatment of offenders anda crackdown on those whowould eternally disturb thepeace.But, as in all things, thereis no simple, easyanswer as to what should or should notbe done. There isno simple way — as letters tothe Editor and callers tohot—line shows would have usbelieve.One of the factors contributingtowards crimetoday, may be the more permissive attitude thatarises fromthe uncertainty brought about bysocial change.Today, it seems that many old-fashionedideas suchas respect for authority, hard work, a. day’s payfor a day’swork, pride of independence and self—respect, havenowgone out of style.Instead, we allow — and even encourage— peopleto accept welfare rather than work, and at the sametime,to complain about the state of society and that theyare not getting paid enough for doing nothing—4—There is onething that hippiessay all thetime and this is,“Hake Love notWar”. Well, Ihave newsfor them,I have donethem both and Iagree withthem.Today, weare increasinglyfaced withnewtypes of crimedrug trafficking,white collar crime,aircraft hi—jacking,urban welfare,and the cowardlymailbombings.To a certain extent,we have adjusted ourlawsto keep up withsocial change. Lawwas once set downtopunish offenders,no more was thoughtto be needed.Now,the emphasis isshifting to social controland the lawallows us to rehabilitateoffenders.In other words,we have gone frompunishment, todeterrence, torehabilitation.We realized that continuouspunishment in apenalinstitution has hadlittle beneficial effect,if any.Punishment alonedoes not correct criminalbehaviour, it doesnot even begin to accomplishwhat it issupposed to do, unlessone of its aims is tomake thepublic feel betterand safer.—5—What is punishmentfor? Is it onlyforretribution — an eyefor an eye - or isit also supposedto be remedial. Andif it is, how muchpunishment isenough?Will the offenderleave the prisonbetter thanwhen he came or will hebe more damaged than helpedby the experience?.Is the punishmentof one person topreventothers. from doingthe same thing fully consistentwith ourconcept of criminaljustice?How much of a deterrentis punishment andimprisonment anyway?Do sentences given asdeterrentsactually work asinhibitors?At any one time thereare about 12,000 peoplein provincial prisonsand about 8,000 inmatesin ourfederal penitentiariesserving sentences of twoyears ormore and during the year, alarge number of offenderscomeand go. In thelast three years about4,200 people weresent to federal prisons.About 80 percent of themhave been in prisonbefore. Some ofthem have been there quite afew times.These 20,000 people werenot deterred by the threat ofimprisonment.—6Did imprisonmentconvince them neverto return?Did the programswe previously offeredmake them intoresponsible citizensor even givethem the desire todoso?I think the effectof deterrence isvery muchexaggerated, andthat the realdeterrence is the certaintyof apprehensionand the swiftnessof punishment,ratherthan in the punishmentitself.Although many criminologistsregard punishmentas barbaric, Ibelieve that itdoes have its place.Butit must be certain,though not necessarilysevere, andit must be immediate.We must not be likethe mother whotells the misbehavingchild in the morningthat his fatherwill probably spankhim that evening.Punishment may be usefulin that it shocks afewpeople so that theywill not get intotrouble again, but,if anything, it usuallymakes a person bitterif it iscarried on toolong. Too much punishmentdoes not usuallymake an irresponsibleperson into a responsibleone.In addition, punishmentis very expensive.Thetotal average costfor an inmate per yearin a federalinstitution is $9,720.The total average costfor preparingthe case for the Boardand maintainingthe inmate on. parole—7—in the first yearis $1,105. In thesecond year the costof supervisionaverages $458.If punishment aloneis not the answer, whatis?Many offenders learnedtheir criminalbehaviour.And, if criminal behaviourcan be learned, itis mostlikely that it canbe unlearned.And, in spiteof the efforts of someverydedicated peoplein the past, I must saythat we were notsuccessful in gettingto the root of theproblem.But, on behalf of thesepeople, I should pointout that we get the offenderafter everyone else has failedtohelp him — family, church, schools,and so on. And, we areexpected to majicallyreform and transform himfrom perhapsa vicious criminal intoa decent, law—abiding citizen.Well, that isn’t easy.Many of the problems arethe result of anunfortunate earlylife, in an adequate socialand economicenvironment.Some offenders, of course,are disturbed andrequire psychiatrictreatment. While others areproducts—8--of poor environmentand lack of propertraining.Let us notforget that thereal purposeofcorrectionsis not merely retributionor punishment—it is a change inbehaviour forlong-termprotection ofsociety. Propercorrectionalprograms,can help to teachsome criminalsto live properlyin society,and to accepttheir responsibilities.In too manycases, when we lockthem up, awayfrom society, weprevent themfor learningresponsibilitieswith the properguidance and controlthat can helpbringthis about.We must, of course,have control forprotection —control for aslong as necessary,yes, but no longerthannecessary.‘herever possibleor feasiblethe offendershouldbe kept in the communitywhere he can workand supporthisdependents,contribute tothe economy of thecountry andlearn to become aresponsiblecitizen. If he cannotbepràperly controlledin society, thenhe must be returnedto custody forfurther treatment.—9--Indeed, let me emphasize that a confirmedcriminal who continues to be a menace to societyand whoshows little immediate prospect for change, mustberemoved from society, until he canbe treated and is nolonger a menace.I am not advocating that we stopimprisoningpeople, but instead of sentences which do littleto changebehaviour or attitude, I believewe must conUnue in thedirection we are now moving to treat theoffender and totry and rehabilitate him as a responsiblemember of society,with a proper balance of imprisonment and parole.Parole is a means by which a prisoner who givessome indication that he intends to reform can be releasedfrom prison to serve the balance of his sentenc insociety,under guidance and supervision so he can learn to acceptthe responsibilities of citizenship. It also providesaneffective motive or incentive forhim to reform — to getout of prison.In many quarters, parole is little understoodandreluctantly accepted. Some people believe parole issynonymous with coddling criminals. And,.whenthey read ofone inmate out of hundreds who commits a crime while onparole, they are convinced of it.— 10 —Unfortunately, theydo not often readof all.the paroledinmates who succeedin becoming responsiblecitizens.Parole has a dualpurpose - rehabilitationofthe individual andprotection of societyfrom thatindividual. Throughguidance, it helpsthose who areprepared to helpthemselves. Throughsupervision, itprovides protectionto the public.I might add thatthe protection ofsociety hasalways been theparamount considerationof the Boardwhen granting parole.In fact, the Parole Actstatesthat the Board may qrantparole “if it considersthatrelease of the innate onparole would not constituteanundue risk to society.”Besides a full parole,there are other typesof parole, including agradual release for adjustmentin thecommunity before releaseon full parole and dayparole.Contact with thecommunity, with family,relativesand friends, is importantfor re-establishingtheof fender in the community.The Board’sprogram for day parolehelps establishcontactwith the communitybefore full parole isgranted. It lastsfrom 15 days to amaximum of three months, toattend school,— 11 —take special training, or forother rehabilitative purposes.There is often confusion surrounding the Board’sday parole program, and the penitentiaries temporary absenceprogram in the minds of the public. The Board has nothing whatso—ever to do with the temporary absence program, which is grantedby the director of the prison for humanitarian or compassionatereasons.In addition to maintaining contact with the community,day parole and temporary absence act as indicators of aninmate’s readiness for full parole, and to some degree, showif he is a responsible risk.In the last few years, we have been making greateruse of day parole, increasing them from 698 in 1970, to1,185 in 1971, and to 1,156 in 1972.Besides this, we also have what is known as mandatorysupervision, which started just a year ago. This means thatanyone coming out ofa penitentiary and who did not getparole, will he under mandatory supervision for his remission timein the same manner asa parolee.If those inmates who were selected for parole needguidance, council and assistance and surveillance that— 12 —goes with parole supervision, thenthe inmates who didnot get paroleneed it even more.Mandatory Supervision ensuresthat all peoplecoming out of Penitentiaries receivethis control andbenefit from the guidance available.It means too, thatwe do not release as many borderlinecases on full parole.An inmate does not just applyfor parole andget it. There is a carefully plannedprogram behindeach release,Even before the final decision is made wespend four to five months looking at a case — studyingreports from the police and the courts - makinginvestigations in the community - talking to family,relatives, friends and emploverà. From the Institution’sclassification officer, psychologist, or other staffmembers, we receive information about his progressand any change in attitude.And, of course, one of our staff talks to the.inmate himself.Good conduct in prison is notthe sole criterionfor release. No offender is exactly like another; thetype of offence, the previous family history, socialsituation, emotional stability, educational and vocational— 13 —skills, and the resources available in the community—all these vary.Naturally, the Board is guided by conduct andprogress in prison,’but it is also guided byany corrunentof the police and of the judge at the time of sentencingas well as the length of the sentence,Are his family relationships good? Does hehave a chance for a job? Does he have insightinto theproblems that took him in prison in the firstplace?Are there people in his community whoare willing andable to help him?Of course, we and other agencies will give himwhat we can, but most important ofall, is he ready andable to help himself?We try to prepare him to re-establish himselfin society. He may not recognizehow difficult it is.A man who has, been shutoff from day—to-day life for two,five, or ten years cannot just walkout of prison andstart afresh.I mentioned earlier the cost of keeping menon— 14 —parole and in prison. Parole not only offers excellentpossibilities for rehabilitation, it saves on the costof imprisonment and helps contribute to the economy ofCanada.During June 1972, a study carried out of 2,367parolees under direct supervision by the Board for thewhole month showed that 1,828 of them, or about 77 percent,had a job.On the average, they earned $483 during themonth. Their total earnings for June reached about$912,000. On the basis of these earnings, theyprobably earned about $11 million in 1972 and theirfederal and provincial income taxes would be more than$1 million. This study only covered about 55 percent ofall parolees in Canada.Of the 206 inmates in Vancouver on parole forall of June 1972, 139 were fully employed, earning anaverage of $576 a month.In Abbotsford, 45 parolees out of 57 had jobsearning an average of $524 a month.In Victoria, 44 parolees out of 62 were employed atan average of$468.— 15 —The working parolee earns money, spends money,and pays taxes like everyone else. These parolees alsosupported 2,200 dependents who would otherwise havebeen supported at public expense. His earnings are notonly contributing to the economy of the country, butare definitely contributing to the success of hisrehabilitation.It is essential that ex-inmates be given achance to work if they seem to deserve it. If they arerefused just because they have been in prison, then thereis no chance of them being reformed and they willprobably return to crime.Let me stress however, that we do not grantparole just to save money. Nor do we grant paroleout ofpity or leniency, but only if, as the Parole Act states“the inmate has derived the maximum benefit fromimprisonment” and when his rehabilitation will be aidedby parole, and if his release will not present an undue• risk to society.Naturally, there is very real and understandableconcern about what we are doing from the public, becauseonly our failures and not our many successes are publicized.I—16—Nonetheless,we have learneda great deal fromthis public concern,but we areonly human,and we aredealing with humanbeings, andsometimes, inspite of ourefforts, we domake bad decisions,or àircumstancesinthe community interveneto increasethe riskand paroleis violated. Thisis regrettable,and may haveunfortunate conseauences.We realizetoo that whenjudges seea paroleviolator standingin front ofthebench, they may wonderwhatthose peopleat the ParoleBoardare doing -judges seeallour failures, butnot our successes.Moreover, Iwould liketo stress thatit is onlynatural we shouldexpect a certainnumber offailures inany humanenterprise andthat a programshould notbefaulted becausethere arefailures,but ratherif there aretoo many failures.I would liketo reassureyou that weare verymuch concernedwith our failures,so much so,that two yearsago, whenwe thoughtthat theviolation ratehad gonetoohigh, wedeliberatelyreduced thenumber ofparoles.After all, ifwe were tochoose onlythe verybest, sure-risk,candidates fora parole, wewould haveafantastic successrate to showthe public,but, we wouldnot be verysuccessfulin helpingto rehabilitatethe— 17 —majority of inmates whichis what it is all about.If onewere to go throughlife doing nothing, then onewouldnever do anythingwrong.In the past, the Boardbelieved that parole wasone of the bestmeans of rehabilitation,it graduallyexpanded its own resourcesand made greater use ofothers so that moreoffenders might be helped tobecomeresponsible citizens.To see the effects andresults of the Board’sattempts to helpin the reformation ofmore offenders,let us take a look atthe statistics for the years1965,1970, 1971 and 1972.In 1965 we granted 1,878full paroles, whichwas 27.5% of the 6,839 applicationswe received.By 1970, both the applicationsand the paroles hadincreased. In that year,we granted 5,114 paroles whichwas 59 percent of the8,633 applications we received.In 1965, we had192 parole violations, in 1970parole violations had risento 1,004, increasing bothnumerically and proportionately.— 18 —By 1970, wehad reached a plateauin the numberof inmatesreleased on fullparole in any oneyear, whoseemed tobe able to benefitfrom the presentsystem ofrehabilitation.In 1971,there were evenmore applicationsfor parole- 9,458 of them - butwe only ranted52.5percent ofthem, amounting to4,965, which was149 fewerthan theyear before.There are about5,000 people on paroleat anyone moment. Ifyou start withthese and add another5,000 people duringthe next 12 months,you have about10,000 chances forparole violation inany year.Well, evenwith that manypossibilities,thenumber of violationsin 1971 was too much.It had jumpedto 1509.We had receivedthe message loud andclear.And we in turnlet it be known tothe inmates —especially theparole violators- that we werenot happywith their performance.We have in factsaid to the, “O.K.,too many ofyoublew it, so nowwe are going tobe more selective thanwe thought wouldbe necessary.”j— 19 —We were more selective. The 8,763 anplicationsin 1972 were 695 fewer than in 1971and we only granted41 percent of them, or 3,631.These 3,600 paroles were 27 percent, or 1,334fewer than we granted in 1971 and nearly 30 percent,or1,483 fewer than in 1970.No doubt ‘iou are interested in how parolees aredoing here in Vancouver. Normally, at any one moment,there are between 360 and 400 inmates under supervisionin this area., .—4 1 Q 7 7 fl -,-1 € ,— , ‘— 4- ,Board and only 54 were forfeited as a result of a convictionfor an indictable offence.This is a total of 84 who violated their paroles,compared with the 243 who finished their paroles successfullyduring the year, and the 369 who were still on paroleDecember 31st.Besides reducing the number of paroles because ofthe higher violation rate, we are using more of our resourcesto identify cases that should not be paroled, but weare also improving our analysis of the outcome of parole20to reducepast miscalculations.There is agreater emphasison policereportingand tryingto establishrelations withthe police.We also havecloser scritinyof violent offendersand paroleviolators, andwe changed ourrules so thatalargernuirier of BoardMembers are involvedindecisions onparole violators,violent offendersanddrug offenders.The task ofthe Board is aconsiderable one,but let us notforget what atask - whatan effort,rehabilitationmay bc forthe individualparolee.Let me stressas stronglyas I can, ifwe donot give the paroleea chance,there is almost nowaythat he can rehabilitatehimself. I donot guarantee100percent sucess,but if we do succeed,we will havethesatisfaction ofhelping someoneto become a goodcitizen.Good citizenshipis created, evenin the mostfortunate of us.flow much longerand how muchharder itis to create a goodcitizen from a badone? Andittakes a good citizento create a goodcitizen.So, I say,crime is everyone’business.— 21 —If I have given you the impression of beingtoo zealous anadvocate of offenders’ needs, let meplace these thoughts in perspective.I do not think the rights of offenderscan be stressed over those of the public. - I do notconsider all offenders as poor, misunderstood peopleor even martyrs. Not every vulture is a poor,maladjusted nightingale.Society must be protected against crime.Citizens must be able to feel reasonably secure frompersonal attack, theft, or destruction of their property.Protection must be paramount but I do think protection ofthe public and rehabilitation must go hand in hand, forin the long run, reformation is the best protection.There are no easy answers or definite directions.We face a nurrJer of dilemmas centeringon the balance betweenour traditional liberties and humane actions, and theincreasing need to protect ourselves against criminals.We are faced with the need for immediate totalshort-term protection of the public through removal of theoffender from society.We arc also faced with the need for long—termV-22-protection, andthis must involvethe offenderin societyto be successful.For short-termprotection,imprisonmentfillsthe bill quitehandily.But, in thelong run, imprisonmentalone doesnot protectsocietyor reform thecriminal.Ladies andGentlemen,I have triedto give youan outlineof the parolesystem andits place inrehabilitationof offenders.In COflCiUSOfl,let me stressagain thatthereshould beproper controland adequatetreatmentof offendersand thisshould takeplace in thecommunityas much aspossible.Those offenderswho seemlikely tobe reformedshould be releasedon parole.We shouldhelp thosewhowant to helpthemselves.If theycannot besuccessfullycontrolledor treatedin the communityduringrehabilitation,then theymust bereturned to prison.If theyappear to beincorrigiblethenthen should be keptin prisonindefinitely.As longas theyare dangerous, theyshould be keptout of society.There isno doubtthat thereare suchdanqerous— 23 —criminals inour society and we willhave to continuelookingat ways to protect ourselvesagainst them.But, I hope you willagree thatthe majorityof offenderscan be helped by intelligentand humaneprogramsto change from alienated,anti—socialindividualsto a responsiblelaw—abiding one.I think we have someway to go yet,we needyour understanding,your support,and your co-operationinreachingthat goal. And Ithank you for theopportunityto tell you aboutit.T.G. StreetChairman, NationalParole BoardSpeech to the VancouverInstitute27th January, 1973


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