In the case of adults, the two prerequisites for parole, outside of an acceptable institutional record, are the absence of detainers (that is, legal "hold orders" for other authorities) and guaranteed employment. In some states the applicant for parole must have a home, a sponsor, and a job, and these must be bona fide. However, many factors affect the probable fitness of a child or youth for parole or conditional liberation. Parole boards, institutional heads, and juvenile courts are interested to receive information that will help them in arriving at a correct and intelligent decision concerning whom should be paroled.
It must be determined if the applicant is capable of living in the community and remaining at liberty without violating laws. In considering an inmate's release on parole, both negative and positive considerations in each case must be appraised. References are made, if available, to the psychiatric and psychological reports worked up by the professional staffs within the institution of commitment. An analysis is made of the inmate's educational progress within the institution, his plans for the future, his maturation, his seriousness of purpose.
In addition, the parole applicant's conduct during incarceration, previous offense record, military experience, past occupational history, and present attitude toward life in general are studied. (Metts, 2005) The California Authority believes the wisest course is to give selected youthful inmates a trial on parole, a procedure followed only after inmates have been in a training school for a period of time that has proved sufficient to effect a measurable change of habits in other persons with similar difficulties. Should the youth fail on parole; the Authority can return him to the reform school for additional or perhaps different training.
It is true that some youths who seem least favorably influenced in a training unit show, as soon as they are on parole, that they have acquired a new attitude and is now able to adjust well in the community. The California Authority has encountered difficulties in removing the idea of "doing time" from the minds of its charges, especially the older boys. Courts find them delinquent or guilty and commit them to the Youth Authority; the boys are apt to look upon the parole procedure itself as regular court sentence. At the diagnostic clinic often their first question is this: "How much time will I have to do?
" Progress has been made in some institutions in their ability to make wise selections of parolees. Improved training and treatment methods within the institution, as well as the utilization of modern methods of classification and analysis of the inmates assist the paroling authority to base its selection upon facts and performance, instead of upon whim, fancy, or "intuition. " It was pointed out above that one of the most important phases of the whole rehabilitative process is intelligent and efficient parole supervision.
And some of the handicaps facing supervisors today were noted, including inadequate staffing, large case loads, and administrative inflexibility. A more detailed consideration of supervision and its problems should form part of any serious discussion of parole. Releasing the youth from the correctional institution and his subsequent adjustment under parole supervision should be a gradual process. A weak link in the chain of rehabilitation at the present time is the supervision of youth while on parole.
There is few parole staffs which are sufficiently large or well enough trained to cope readily with the problems of the post-institutional training period. In some states parole services for children are conspicuous by their absence; upon release from the institution children must get along as best they can be unsupervised. Yet the program demanded in training children while on parole, in principle, involves extensive and professional case work. Short of this principle and of the needed personnel to carry it out, alternative methods have been devised, including sponsorship.
(Seiter And West 2003) Authorities often require a sponsor if the youth is to be released on parole. The sponsor may be a family friend, a clergyman, or other interested citizen, but he should be selected by the paroling officials with utmost care. The sponsor is no substitute for the parole officer who officially supervises the boy. In some states, in the case of adult parole, the sponsor may be accepted by the parole authorities as a substitute for the parole officer for all practical intent and purposes. In juvenile parole, the sponsor cooperates with the parole officer and seeks his advice.
Since the sponsor is responsible for one individual only, he can more readily concentrate his efforts and available time than an overburdened parole officer. Parolees fortunate enough to have officially approved sponsors are not infrequently enabled to make a satisfactory adjustment to their community. They are not only freed from the "professional-client" relationship but also removed from the multiplicity of restrictions which are imposed upon them by the parole office, where all too often the standards for the worst parolee are extended to all.
With this system in full operation the authoritarian pressures inherent in formalized systems of parole would very likely tend to disappear. (Gregorie, 2005) Much still remains to be accomplished in the parole area. At the present time, a majority of the institutions are without psychiatric counsel, a lack that increases the work and responsibility of the parole authorities in selecting those inmates eligible for parole. Parole authorities are especially handicapped in dealing with psychopathic delinquents, the mentally retarded and habitual "sex" cases without psychiatric aid.