Thursday, August 12, 2004


The killer of David McNee was on parole, and there's already the usual howling about why we let people out of prison on parole. I think a better question is why the hell was someone on parole living under a bridge and having to work as a prostitute? Don't we ensure that these people have somewhere to go and something to do?

The problem is not with parole, but the criminal underfunding of those who supervise it. People cannot be successfully reintegrated into society if they are just dumped on the street with the clothes they stand up in and a few dollars and told to get on with their lives. If we want this to work, we need the probation service to be actively assisting those on parole (and those at final release), ensuring that they have homes and jobs - and this means funding them to do it. Otherwise, passive neglect is simply going to lead to more problems.

Every prisoner will theoretically be released from prison at some stage, and so the problem of reintegration has to be addressed. Parole is a good way of doing it if we do it properly. And if we are not going to do it properly, and we allow prisoners to drift back into criminal activity through neglect, then we have no-one to blame but ourselves.