Parole Decisions

  • Michael R. Gottfredson
  • Don M. Gottfredson
Part of the Law, Society, and Policy book series (LSPO, volume 3)


In 1870, at the organizational meeting of what is now the American Correctional Association, Sir Walter Crofton, who had been in charge of the Irish prison system, was a featured speaker. Crofton believed that the intent of the law was to make prisons “more than places of safekeeping” and that there should be programs of reform in prison with “tickets of leave” given only to those who evidenced a change in attitude (Newman, 1963:29). Tickets of leave had been used in England, along with quasi-indeterminate sentences (within a fixed range) since 1853; and they had been used first in 1840 in the program of transporting prisoners from England to America in accordance with an English law of 1597 (Newman, 1963). The ticket of leave, as originated by Alexander Macanochie (who was in charge of the English penal colony at Norfolk Island in 1840), was part of a plan for passing convicts through several steps: first, strict imprisonment; second, chain gangs; then, freedom within a limited area; and finally, a ticket of leave resulting in a conditional pardon pending the full restoration of liberty (Rubin, Weihofen, Edwards, and Rosenzweig, 1963). The concept, therefore, rested upon a system of progressive classification and assignment to increasingly lesser levels of supervision and custodial control, as discussed in Chapter 7, with increasing freedom while still under sentence.


Criminal Justice System Minimum Term Institutional Behavior Parole Board Offense Seriousness 
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  1. 1.
    Among the other correlates identified by Scott, controlling for offense seriousness, were institutional record and age (older offenders served longer terms). Prior criminal record and demographic variables (sex, race, socioeconomic status) were not found to be related to these decisions. Another study of parole decisions for youthful offenders in the federal system is largely compatible with those cited in the text. Elion and Megargee (1979) were interested in determining the extent to which race was a factor in these decisions. Although race did not emerge as a significant predictor, their analysis of several legal, social, and personal factors discovered that entry sentence, violence of the offense, and institutional adjustment were related to the parole decision.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Portions of this section are drawn from Gottfredson, Flanagan, and Mitchell-Herzfeld (1982).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For discussions of the problems with predictive judgments with specific reference to parole, see Stanley (1976); von Hirsch and Hanrahan (1979).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Gottfredson
    • 1
  • Don M. Gottfredson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Management and PolicyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.School of Criminal JusticeRutgers UniversityNewarkUSA

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