Cause for pause
Last week I had the opportunity to hear from a woman who suffered a horrific rape at the young age of 17. Not only was she raped, she was raped in her home by a complete stranger. As she bravely shared her story, what really gave me pause was what she shared with respect to the parole process. While the media focuses lots of attention on the crime – usually the more horrific the better – and again on the trial, we don’t hear much about what happens when the perpetrator comes up for parole. As this survivor explained, without proper knowledge of the process or the power a survivor has to affect the outcome of the parole hearing by being present and speaking up, chances are pretty good the perpetrator can be let out on parole well before serving his entire sentence. Hearing her story of how difficult it was for her to face her perpetrator and navigate the parole system made me wonder how our parole system works here in Ada County.
In fact, earlier this year, during our Legislative Session, we almost had a bill passed that would have allowed perpetrators of “nonviolent” offenses to be released without a parole hearing after 100%-150% of time served of the parole eligibility date. As part of the Justice Reinvestment act, designed to save money and help move people out of our prisons, the intent was good – the problem was domestic battery, injury to child and attempted strangulation were all considered “nonviolent” offenses!
Suffice it to say, I have become more interested in how our parole system works. It doesn’t do us much good to get perpetrators in jail if they manage to get out and re-offend consistently. We have only to think of Selena to see what the tragic consequences can be. Stay tuned for further follow up on this topic.