Parole board helps reduce recidivism - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Parole board helps reduce recidivism

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March 9, 2004

Albany- Over the past few years Georgians have been bombarded by reports of over-crowed jails and prisons, and for many inmates isn't their first time behind bars.

"You have that problem and we're going to continue to have that problem as long as we don't put our foot down on crime," says Dougherty County Sheriff, Jamil Saba.

Dougherty County Sheriff, Jamil Saba says most people don't realize how costly it is to keep and inmate in jail or prison. It costs nearly $14,000 a year to house an inmate in his jail. Statewide, Georgia spends more than $760 million a year for incarceration.

"We have a lot of parolees in jail and of course what we're worried about now is them letting them out for us to get them back."

Which puts an added strain on taxpayers pockets and jails that are already busting at the seams. The National Parole success rate is around 45%, but in Georgia it's 61%.

"The state of Georgia is the cutting edge, we're not on it, we are the cutting edge for how we do community supervision. It's called results driven supervision and what we do is we target those areas employment, education, substance abuse and cognitive thinking," explains Chief Parole Officer, Leslie Lamb.

40% of Dougherty County inmates return to jail after they are released, but Chief Parole Officer Leslie Lamb says her programs are helping to drive that number down.

Georgia's parole system provides residential, substance abuse, educational, job training programs, and has become the model for more than 25 other states.

"The fact of the matter is is that when they're on the street on they're working, they're paying taxes, as opposed to being in prison where they are taking money from us," Lamb says.

She says the programs have proven to help with the success of parolees, and are providing a significant solution to the state's budget crisis.

Posted at 4;05 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com