Everyone thinks we already have parole, but we actually don’t.
Washington did away with parole about 30 years ago, right around the time we began making sentences longer and longer. Today there is no process for determining when a prisoner is ready for release. That means many men and women must sit in prison for a decade or more after full rehabilitation–long past the point where incarceration makes sense. And we continue to pay for their unnecessary incarceration at an average annual cost of well over $46,000 per prisoner, at a time when we don’t even have the money to fully fund our public schools.
Our 15 prisons are already full. We cannot afford to continue to house, feed, and guard individuals who present no threat to public safety. And we cannot afford to spend $250 million to build the new prison that’s already on the drawing board. But research has shown that we can afford to safely reduce the prison population through a parole system–a system of individual review of an individual’s behavior record, risk profile, programming in prison, and community support. The CFP is working to create the opportunity for parole for those men and women who have clearly demonstrated that they’ve earned it.