About parolees and parole officers

I was just watching the Discovery Channel and there was a program on about parolees and their parole officers. The program centered mainly around two men who had just been paroled. I am not sure what their crimes were. The general idea was that the parolee had to go find a job, which they should. One of the men found one after about 5 months. The other one still had not found one.

I know absolutely nothing about parole, jail or parole officers except what I have seen on T.V. But I was under the impression that part of a parole officers job, in addition to keeping track of the parolee, was to help that person find a job. Both of the people in this program had to go and find their own job. One did and one was still looking. At least they hadn’t gone back to prison.

So, isn’t the parole officer supposed to help the parolee find work? I realize that there is a certain stigma that comes with being a parolee from prison, but if they have served their time and are truly repentant of their crimes, shouldn’t they be given the same opportunities and you or I?

It’s almost as if they are still being punished for their crime, even though they have paid their debt to society.

Am I missing something, or is the “system” stacked against the parolee from the time they get out of prison?

“each state is different” BUT: in many case (my state, MI is one) the caseload for an agent hovers around 100 people. Now, when you understand what that encompasses: They have to do home checks (each time they move, and randomly as well), they have to submit written reports, they actually have a face to face meeting with each client minimally once a month and more often in some cases. Urine drops and reports about them, counseling and reports about them, they have to scan the arrest records weekly to make sure none of their folks have been arreseted and not bothered to tell the agent. They have to submit reports to THIER superiors (and in Michigan, they get audited, as well, so each case file has to have the correct number of phone calls, home visits, and office visits for each client). Yep, the “getting a job” gig gets farmed out. Frankly, that’s what I do for a living. And, I know I’ve only covered a small bit of what the agent has to do. I also bump into the agents lots of time out at the county jail, 'cause when one of their people is out there, they still have to go see them…


Was the show you watched set in NYC (Staten Island, I think) If so, I’ve seen it.

I can’t speak for other places, but in NY ( used to be one), it’s the parole officer’s job to help a parolee find a job in the only most general way. By that I mean the parole officer doesn’t assign people to jobs, or give them a list of places to go ( as I have seen in TV shows and movies),but might make an appointment for the parolee with the Dept of Labor or an ex-offender organization that helps them to find employment. They might recommend applying to messenger services,or tell parolees that a particular place is hiring,or has apprentice openings if (and it’s a big if) the PO happens to know of any. Happens sometimes, but not often. What’s really part of the job is not finding the parolee a job, but making sure he or she is looking for one.
If the show is the one I’m thinking of, those parole officer had to supervise around 70 parolees each. By the time you’re done visiting their homes, seeing (and drug testing) them in your office, sending those who need it to drug treatment, mental health services,alternatives to violence counseling (and so on ), investigating any new arrests or complaints against them , and arresting and attending the hearings for those who violated parole, there’s not a whole lot of time to also be an one-person employment agency.

Then there's the issue of how prepared the parolee is to work. Although their conviction does sometimes make it difficult to find a job, many of the parolees I worked with would have found it difficult to get and keep a job even without a stigma. The inability to speak English and lack of education are only the most obvious stumbling blocks.Some claimed to be looking for work, yet were still asleep at 11 am.Some refused to work at minimum wage jobs ( which often didn't care about a record) but had no skills with which to get a better job.Others would get fired or quit over the slightest thing ( having to work an hour late or come in early one day)

I have to say ,though,I really am not sure what you mean about “they should be given the same oppotunities as you or I”? Is that in reference to the PO finding the job, or the refusal of employers to hire parolees?

Yes, that was the show I watched. I meant the parolee should have the same opportunities as you or I when seeking employment.

Just out of curiosity, what are the percentages of parolees that actually find work, and keep the job? And what are the percentages of parolees that eventually go back to prison because they committed another crime? I would guess that question 1 is rather low and question 2 is rather high.

I can understand the employer’s point of view, though. In a place like NYC ,where there are numerous applicants for any unskilled jobs that pay more than minimum wage,why would they want to hire someone who they know has a drug problem, or has already stolen from someone (which seem to be the most common convictions) when there may be 10 or 20 applicants without a record?

I worked in a bad area. If 10% of them were working,things were going well.Depended on the area, though. In other parts of the city, and upstate, more parolees were working.

I couldn't answer how many go back to prison  specifically because they committed a new  crime. A lot go back without committing a new crime, which reminds me of something I wanted to mention. They _haven't_ served their time. If they had finished their sentence, they wouldn't be on parole.In NY, a person may be sentenced directly to parole, without doing any prison time. Ordinarily, though a person will be sentenced to a minimum and a maximimum , for example, 1-3 years in prison. With that sentence, they are eligible for parole after 1 year, but will have to serve the other two on parole. That's why they can go back to prison, even without committing a crime, if they violate the conditions of parole.

How likely they are to work, commit new crimes or violate parole conditions seems to depend a great deal on their original crime. Those convicted of drug crimes almost always violate a rule and usually commit the crime of drug possession again. They generally are the ones who have the hardest time finding and keeping work.The last stats I saw said that 85% of these guys would be back in prison within a year.( That's the only stat I remember,the rest will be my estimates) Those convicted of robbery or larceny do better, I'd say maybe 60% go back, and usually not for a new crime.Believe it or not, those convicted of murder,and manslaughter have the lowest rate of recidivism.Those convicted of assault also seem to have a fairly low rate,about 30-40%, I'd say.Even the violent ones fall into different groups. Those whose conviction was gang-related or related to another crime (a violent robbery,say) seem to be more likely to go back to prison than those whose conviction was due to a fight that got out of hand, or injuring or killing someone while driving drunk

Professionally speaking:
Yes, exoffenders often have a more difficult time getting and keeping jobs. Often for the reasons listed above (little or no education/job skills, substance abuse problem etc.)
Some of the problems are connected to the imprisonment/parole regs. For example, while you’re in prison, you are assigned a work detail, you don’t have to worry about getting up for work, transportation to work, or doctor’s appointments, all those things that you have to plan for on the out side. Sometimes the conditions of the person’s parole have an impact as well, mandatory counseling etc. (not saying the counseling etc shouldn’t happen, just that it may have an impact)

I point out to my clients that it’s perfectly legal for an employer to screen out ex-offenders, and in fact we WANT people to be able to do this - like we don’t want child molesters working at the day care centers… etc. So, in some cases, a career change is in order. It IS tough to convince some one who was making a thou a day selling drugs to take the job at 6$ per hour, but, the $6 an hour job isn’t likely to get you to prison for 4 - 20…

anyhow. thanks for posting your thoughts, always glad to know there are SOME folks out there who aren’t thinking automatically that they should all be locked up with the keys thrown away…

Actually, that pretty much sums it up.Somewhere there may be a good parole officer, but the one my friend has is arrogant and sarcastic and doesn’t act like he is interested in helping this person become a productive member of society (which is part of their job). He seems more interested in destroying him. Everything is a big joke, like he doesn’t even think of it as a human life. I grew up in a time where I believed that these people were actually there to protect us - not in today’s world. Right and wrong don’t seem to matter - there’s gonna be a pay check either way. We are afraid because basicaly, they can do whatever they want and get away with it. It’s pretty scary when you think about it. I have begun studying criminal justice on my own and would like to investigate cases where innocent people are accused and/or wrongfully convicted. I have learned not to judge people so quickly because they have a “record”, because it may be based on nonsense. If I can save one innocent life from injustice, I’ll be happy.

I work in the job placement field and we do get a lot of people with felonies making the rounds. Unfortunately the deck is often stacked against these guys because there are so many people looking for work that a criminal record is just one more negative factor. Most of the clients that I work with will not take felons so I don’t even have the option of placing someone that I feel will do well. The jobs that are available pay either $8.00 or $9.00 an hour. :frowning:

Experience has taught me that (at least in our area) I’m lucky if one in eight stick it out for more than a month or two. The ones with alcohol or drug problems often backslide and get removed from the worksite due to performance and absenteeism. Some go back to jail. Others don’t do well with the daily grind of getting up early, driving, mooching a ride or taking the bus, working their asses off, and coming away with a net income of a couple of hundred a week. Court costs and the jail fees are expensive! Many are nearly illiterate and have difficulty creating a resume.

A couple are doing well, including one that served time for armed robbery and another that was pretty heavy into drugs. In each case it was the love of a good woman that helps them to keep doing their best. Unfortunately one’s mom died - he took that pretty hard and has been hitting the beer and weed a lot more lately. He’s one of my favorites and I do my best to keep encouraging him. When I got him his first job he called his mom from my office and she cried she was so proud. May she rest in peace.

Anyhow, it is very difficult to get back on track after spending time in jail.

Back to the first part, parolees have not “paid their debt to society”. They’ve been released early from prison on certain conditions, one of those being productively employed. Paroless have no “right” to be out of prison; it’s a privilege. Yes, poor economic times are taken into consideration for failure to find a job, so they’re not just sent back to prison on that violation alone.

Some companies do have a blanket “No Felons” hiring policy, which I disagree with. Felonies cover a very wide range, many of which are not violent nor anti-social at all. Naturally, with all other qualifications being equal, a parolee would drop down on the list of consideration, but even that is not absolute. However, attitude is a big factor. An attitude on the part of a parolee that his crime wasn’t really his fault, or it was the System that “forced” him to do it, isn’t going to impress me. Nor will an admission of fault that’s more rehearsed than heartfelt. On the other hand, people do make errors in judgment, and if attitudes sounds reasonably sincere to me, it will hold more weight than a person who’s never committed (got caught at) a crime, but carries a lackadaisical attitude about work in general.

So, it’s complex. But as one, myself, who’s been out of work more than once during a harsh recession, I have no sympathy for someone who can’t find ANY work, no matter how little it pays. Little is still better than nothing. And job treatment might such, but if you’ve got a tough enough skin for prison, then a job shouldn’t be a problem. I suspect the one parolee’s problem in finding work is more of his own personal attitude in general.

nothing to add, just BRAAAINS!!!

I’m so glad someone pointed this out.

There a few programs available for help. Illinois has a program for ex-cons and parolees to get help in finding work. They teach you how to dress, look for work, fill out applications and even pay you 20 hours a week a minimum wage to look for work (for 60 days).

In Illinois you can get food stamps and be put on “earnfare” which means the state gets you a job at minimum wage and you work off your food stamps and can earn an addtional 300 dollars a month (it’s actually a bit less than $300)

The problems I’ve seen first hand is the ex-offenders are woefully unprepared in life skills. Some of them can barely read and write even though they graduated high school.

Most of them start out so eager and earnest but it’s hard. I mean I’ve been doing temp jobs for THREE years, trying to find even a permenent minimum wage job, and I have a degree and a great work history (other than the last three years)

A lot of the results depend on the support these people get. Most of them, I’ve seen, don’t have the inner self strength to continue on the, so called, straight and narrow, as they get rejected even moreso with this economy.