Brennan Center Study Shows Parole Fees Undercut Reentry

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jeanine Plant-Chirlin, 212-998-6289
Susan Lehman, 212-998-6318

Brennan Center Study Shows Parole Fees Undercut Reentry

Maryland's Parole Supervision Fee Raises Little State Revenue

MARYLAND - Maryland's $40-per-month parole fee undermines public safety by
burdening parolees with debt they cannot pay, according to a report
released today by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Maryland's Parole Supervision Fee: A Barrier to Reentry
argues that parole fees should be taken off the books and that saddling
parolees with debt is a serious barrier to successful reentry into
society.

Maryland implemented the parole supervision fee two decades ago to
boost state revenues, but the fee is often uncollectible because
parolees are unemployed and can't afford it. Only one-quarter of
parolees have full-time jobs at the start of their parole, and just
one-third are fully employed at the end. Consequently, only 17 percent
of supervision fees get paid. Meanwhile, parole officers say that
enforcing the fee distracts them from the more important task of
helping parolees find jobs.

"The focus of parole should be preventing recidivism, not filling state
coffers," says Rebekah Diller, report co-author and Deputy Director of
the Brennan Center's Justice Program. "The fee burdens an already
struggling population, undercuts Maryland's efforts to promote
successful reentry, and is financially inefficient."

Many parolees also have trouble paying the supervision fee on time,
because they also pay for child support, restitution, and drug testing.
Some methods used to enforce the fee ruin credit, and persistent
collection letters threaten parolees with returning to prison.

The Brennan Center report calls for the Maryland Legislature to join
Virginia by taking the parole supervision fee off the books. Maryland's
Parole Supervision Fee: A Barrier to Reentry recommends six steps that
the four state bodies involved in the implementation and collection of
the parole supervision fee could undertake to spend state dollars
better and to facilitate the reentry into society of the many parolees
who cannot pay.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Rebekah
Diller, please contact Jeanine Plant-Chirlin at 212-998-6289 or 
jeanine.plant-chirlin@nyu.edu or contact Susan Lehman at 212-998-6318
or at susan.lehman@nyu.edu.

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The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on fundamental issues of democracy and justice. Our work ranges from voting rights to redistricting reform, from access to the courts to presidential power in the fight against terrorism.

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