Comprehensive Report Critiques Parole Board

Parole Board: Professors from the law school and PSU worked together on a paper analyzing the Oregon Board of Parole’s decision-making process and how it affects parole applicants.

Professor of Law Aliza Kaplan also oversees the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC) at Lewis & Clark, where students can gain practical experience in a wide range of legal fields. Kaplan was recently honored with the 2022 Juneteenth Freedom and the 2022 President’s award from the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

Comprehensive Report Critiques Parole Board

Kaplan coordinated the interviews of parolees with the help of law students. Christopher Cambell, an associate professor in PSU’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, oversaw the report’s data collecting and analysis.

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Kaplan explained that the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic’s interest in the initiative sprang from the clinic’s experience representing parolees in various sorts of release hearings over the past five years. Clinic operations are based on the principle that “the more we perform hands-on casework, the more we see the faults in the system.”

Kaplan started making a list of problems she saw with the parole process, such as repeated instances of mistreatment and a general lack of knowledge about the subject.

According to Kaplan, an academic study was undertaken because “we thought the best approach to raise attention to the parole process and to explain with proof and statistics what is going on was to do an academic study.” We collaborated with Dr. Campbell on the research and report. In addition to representing them throughout the entire process, we also represented them in various release hearings.

Comprehensive Report Critiques Parole Board
Comprehensive Report Critiques Parole Board

They employed a mixed-method approach, which meant they gathered information about parolees and the board using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

According to Campbell, using a variety of approaches can help researchers “triangulate,” or locate evidence that goes in the same way to support a conclusion. Therefore, I did the best I could under the circumstances when designing this study.

Campbell’s survey was shipped to five different locations in five large lot boxes weighing between 35 and 96 pounds.

In a statement, Campbell explained that the statewide presence of the Department of Corrections was responsible for distributing the boxes to adult inmates. “It was with great coordination with the DOC folks on the ground there and their willingness to help us that they were able to ship around these boxes to make them available to adults in custody,” Campbell added.

Kaplan also intends to present legislative proposals to the state in the upcoming election, in addition to the report. Based on their findings, Kaplan has submitted a proposal for more CJRC funding to ensure that AICs have continued access to legal counsel. Lawyers at the clinic spend an average of 90 hours on each case, compared to the public defenders who are only allotted 15 hours for each case.

There needs to be more money put into the clinic so that attorneys will take these cases and parolees will have a fighting chance of comprehending and complying with the terms of their release.

They require “truly telling a person’s complete life narrative,” as Kaplan put it. “You’ll need to conduct an interview with the subject and compile documentation for the board as part of this process,” the memo’s author explains.

The average person does not have a clue how this all works since it is too complicated. Inmates who are cut off from the outside world often lack access to resources that might help them understand the parole process.

Whether or not they are released from jail, adults incarcerated in the United States require further social care and guidance through the parole system. It’s a tangled web… in addition to the fact that “people are arriving from very various viewpoints, experiences, education, and ages,” as Kaplan put it.

Kaplan also supports expanding access to rehabilitation programs for people serving time in prison.

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Kaplan has stated that “additional programming from the minute inmates enter prison” is something they will always be advocating for. Even if they aren’t prepared, people should still have access to services that can help them grow and heal. Beginning on the very first day.”

According to Kaplan, there are no sex offender rehabilitation programs and only a handful of domestic violence programs available through the Department of Corrections. The Parole Board would prefer that AICs enroll in rehabilitation programs once they become eligible, but many are unable to do so due to a lack of space.

Kaplan also contributed to a report that sought reforms to Oregon‘s death penalty laws and was able to limit the number of people who would be executed as a result of those reforms.

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