Parole Vs. Prolonged Lmprisonment
Efforts by nathan leopold to win release from State-ville Penitentiary in Illinois have caused many persons to wonder how the 52-year-old convict can expect to overcome the admonition of the sentencing judge that he must never be let out of prison. The fact is that in the 33 years since Leopold and Loeb confessed to the kidnap-murder of a 12-year-old boy, parole has become so firmly entrenched as an alternative to long term incarceration that even lifers can now hope to win some years of freedom before they die. Fewer than 33,000 of the 83,000 prisoners released from federal and state institutions last year had served their full sentences; 57 per cent of the total number leaving prison were let out early on conditional terms, chiefly parole.
Leopold's petition for a rehearing of his plea for parole is scheduled to come before the Illinois parole board on Nov. 14. Earlier petitions were turned down in 1953 and in 1955. Leopold became eligible for parole after Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson in 1949 reduced his sentence from 99 to 85 years in recognition of services as a human guinea pig in wartime malaria control research. When Leopold's first two petitions for parole failed, he sought to have his sentence commuted to 64 years, which would have made him eligible for release on good behavior In December 1957. That plea was rejected, July 30, by Gov. William J. Stratton on advice of the state parole board.
The Leopold case reflects two contrary points of view on administration of criminal justice in the United States, On one hand is the traditional view that the penalty to be paid by an offender should correspond to the seriousness of the crime; on the other is the newer view that imprisonment has a rehabilitative function and should give way as soon as possible to a period of supervised freedom in the community.