Probation and parole numbers are the highest in GA - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Probation and parole numbers are the highest in GA

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The numbers are alarming.  Nationwide, more than 7-million people are in correctional facilities. Millions more on parole or probation.

Georgia has more people on probation than any other state, more than 435,000 according to a new study. Dougherty County and Albany leaders say there is hope.

Yellow tape that's seen outside after a crime often leads to handcuffs and time on the inside. "I think we can look at the news everyday and see that crime is going up," said Albany Chief Parole Officer Leslie Lamb.

Crime is constant and so is the need for a system of punishment for those crimes. "Our whole goal in life is to make sure our community is safe," said Lamb.

Many end up on probation or parole. A new report from the Pew Center on the States found that the number of offenders on probation or parole tripled over the past 25 years to more than 5-million. "It's surprising when you talk to some folks and they think the majority of crime is committed by folks on parole or probation and that in fact is not true," said Lamb.

As Chief Parole Officer in Albany, it's Lamb's job to keep parolees from entering back into the system. Right now, her office oversees 465 of the more than 21,000 parolees in the state. Georgia is working to keep improving the success rate.

"Just in the last three years, we've gone statewide from 69.2 percent to as of February, we're at 75 percent," said Lamb. The local success rate is about the same, a big difference from a couple of years ago. "The numbers in Albany were 58.6 percent," said Lamb.

Lamb says it comes down to getting parolees jobs and education. That's where Albany Tech steps in. "We're here to help and we do help a lot of people," said Albany Tech Associate VP for Adult Education Linda Coston.

Albany parolees take adult education classes and get their GED's at Albany Tech which is an important step to getting back on the right track. "I think that it's so important because it's the link that keeps a lot of them from going back into the system," said Coston.

The corrections system adds up to more than a billion dollars a year in Georgia. "We know that these individuals that come out of prison are going to come back in our communities. We can educate everyone that with help people can change," said Lamb.

While states are being urged to beef up probation and parole programs, local program workers say they're working hard to keep their offenders from re-offending.

The local Department of Labor office also helps parolees find jobs. 79-percent of Albany parolees are employed right now.  

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