Breaking parole

Reconstructing anything can be taxing; it’s much easier to start from scratch. Rebuilding humans is especially hard because so much has been formed through the years and making positive changes isn’t easy. Sometimes there’s no starting over. But with prison inmates, we have to try, because they are coming back out here, ready or not.

Randy Padilla started to rebuild his life behind bars. He had finished paralegal school and had a dream of getting a job and staying out of the joint—with the help of a parole from the California Department of Corrections. But rather than help his transition back, the department made it tougher than it had to be.

Padilla is from Sacramento. They paroled him to Modesto. It seems the paperwork was messed up. Instead of prison officials communicating with parole agents through computers at the time of release, it’s done with a paperwork transfer—as if we were still in the previous century.

Padilla claims the parole people in Modesto provided no housing, even temporary. He spent his first night sleeping in a field. Homeless, he returned to Sacramento and was caught being out of the county he was paroled to. Rather than take steps to fix the problem, bureaucrats sent him back to prison. Padilla’s dream was delayed, and we paid for it.

A leader of Critical Resistance, a prison watchdog group, said that 50 percent of the people coming out of San Quentin have no programming and no place to go. It is no wonder that 50 percent of the people paroled in California end up going back in for parole violations.

There was an entire reform program set up to provide intermediate care in the form of drug treatment, halfway houses and other programs, but that was suddenly dropped by the governor and corrections officials (see “Meet Arnold’s Willie Horton”). The politicians and bureaucrats who keep talking about public safety have continued to put us in danger by releasing inmates into the world without preparation.