Poverty and Parole

Date01 April 1965
AuthorRussell G. Oswald
Published date01 April 1965
DOI10.1177/003288556504500106
Subject MatterArticles
36
POVERTY
AND
PAROLE
RUSSELL
G.
OSWALD
Chairman,
New
York
State
Parole
Board
IN
NEW
YORK
STATE,
inmates
of
correctional
institutions
generally
become
eligible
for
their
initial
appearance
before
the
Board
of
Parole
at
the
completion
of
the
minimum
sentence
less
time
off
for
good
behavior.
Inasmuch
as
eligibility
is
determined
by
a
court
pro-
nounced
sentence
and
by
the
individual’s
own
conduct
in
the
institu-
tion,
poverty
is
not
a
parole-connected
impediment
to
the
individual’s
right
to
a
Parole
Board
hearing.
This,
of
course,
presupposes
that
the
economic
condition
of
the
individual
had
no
bearing
on
the
sentencing
by
the
court
which,
in
turn,
is
a
presupposition
that
the
individual’s
economic
condition
did not
interfere
with
obtaining
adequate
counsel
for
defense.
We
know
that
economically
deprived
individuals
are
often
unable
to
obtain
truly
adequate
legal
counsel
and
through
ignorance
or
lack
of
really
caring,
plead
guilty
or
are
convicted
of
crimes
which
might
have
been
reduced
to
lesser
degrees
with
an
adequate
defense.
Another
consequence
of
poverty
which
causes
Parole
Board
members
much
consternation,
is
the
fact
that
many
are
placed
in
confinement
who
do
not
really
belong
there--cases
in
which
probation
may
have
been
a
more
rehabilitative
and
serviceable
aid
to
the
individual
without
any
additional
threat
to
the
community.
In
citing
these
instances
it
must
be
made
clear
that
I
am
generaliz-
ing
the
entire
picture
of
poverty’s
impact
from
a
parole
standpoint.
To
be
specific
in
its
application
to
individual
situations,
would
constitute
a
text
of
monumental
proportion.
With
the
establishment
of
eligibility,
the
prospective
parolee
appears
before
the
Board
of
Parole
for
release
consideration.
Having
read
through
the
voluminous
information
concerning
his
total
life
story,
the
Board
discusses
the
entire
situation
with
him
and
the
offender
is
given
every
opportunity
to
explain
any
aspect
he
feels
may
be
an
indi-
cator
of
his
improved
adjustment.
Whether
the
economic
background
is
of
wealth
or
poverty,
he
is
given
full
opportunity
to
present
his
&dquo;side
of
the
story&dquo;
and
other
in-
formation
which
may
help
gain
his
parole
release.
So
again,
at
this
point,
poverty
from
a
parole
standpoint
has
not
impeded
the
hindi-
vidual’s
right
to
be
heard.

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