Essay on British Parole System !
The failure of the British system of penal transportation and its unsatisfactory consequences led to the origin of parole in England. The abolition of the system of transportation of prisoners as a penal servitude resulted into overcrowding of British prisons. Consequently, a new method known as Ticket on Leave’ was introduced in the later decades of eighteenth century as a measure for reducing the prison population.
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Unfortunately, the system did not yield good results because prisoners were discharged from prisons merely on surety for good behaviour without being prepared and trained for a disciplined life in the community. In absence of adequate after-care, these discharged prisoners often developed recidivistic tendencies thus rendering public life more insecure and unsafe.
Therefore, it became necessary to introduce radical changes in the method of release under the system of ‘Ticket on Leave’ and this finally led to the evolution of modem system of conditional release on parole towards the first quarter of the nineteenth century’.
The British penal system admits the following categories of persons for parole:—
(a) Those who are convicted for serious offences for which sentence exceeds three years. The parolees in such cases are to report to the police every month during the period of parole.
(b) Those who are habitual offenders and sentenced under the preventive detention laws.
(c) Juvenile delinquents who are institutionalised in borstals, reformatories and rehabilitation centres.
The utilisation of British convicts as labour in Australian farms was first started on an experimental basis. This generated a feeling that prisoners could be paroled out for a useful purpose rather than being confined in closed prison cells. But the conditional release granted to prisoners under parole necessarily implied their return to the prison if they acted in derogation of good behaviour. The efficiency of parole essentially lay in two fundamental considerations, namely,—
(i) There must be disposition of good behaviour on the part of the prisoner; and
(ii) Conditional release under parole was in fact a reward for good behaviour in prison.
The release of prisoners on parole has now been accepted as a part of the rehabilitative programme in Britain. It affords an opportunity to the convicted prisoner to prove that he can return to community as a law abiding citizen if trusted and allowed to forget that he is an ex-convict.
The task of rehabilitation which was once left wholly to the voluntary organisations and agencies has now become a State responsibility. The Report of the Advisory Council on Penal System in England in 1973 recommended that the State should assume responsibility for the after-care of every inmate imprisoned by it.
The parole practices in United Kingdom have been criticised on three major grounds. Firstly, it is alleged that the system of parole does not work well because too many inmates enter from front door and leave through the backdoor unreformed and bent on new criminal activity. Secondly, indeterminate sentence leaves everyone in the dark regarding the inmates’ release.
No one knows how long a person shall be in the prison. Thirdly, Parole decision-making policy is not explicit. In other words, Boards and Commissions responsible to release operate in secret according to tacit policies unknown and unknowledgeable to public and the offender. This contributes to cynicism.
Parole, as a technique of correctional measure has been criticised by J. Edgar Hoover, the former British Director of FBI on the ground that mal-administration in making proper selection of prisoners and then pursuing their cases with vigour and proper attention frustrates the nobel objective underlying the scheme and ill-advised clemency granted to incorrigible convicts by way of release on parole does more harm than good to the community.