Prisons and Parole

October 9, 1957

Report Outline
Parole Vs. Prolonged Lmprisonment
Trends in Operation of Parole Systems
Parole and the Reform of Offenders
Special Focus

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.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 12, 2019  Bail Reform
Oct. 19, 2018  For-Profit Prisons
Mar. 03, 2017  Women in Prison
Jan. 10, 2014  Sentencing Reform
Sep. 14, 2012  Solitary Confinement
Mar. 11, 2011  Downsizing Prisons
Dec. 04, 2009  Prisoner Reentry
Apr. 06, 2007  Prison Reform
Jan. 05, 2007  Prison Health Care
Sep. 17, 1999  Prison-Building Boom
Feb. 04, 1994  Prison Overcrowding
Oct. 20, 1989  Crime and Punishment: a Tenuous Link
Aug. 04, 1989  Can Prisons Rehabilitate Criminals?
Aug. 07, 1987  Prison Crowding
Nov. 25, 1983  Prison Overcrowding
Feb. 26, 1982  Religious Groups and Prison Reform
Jun. 18, 1976  Criminal Release System
Mar. 12, 1976  Reappraisal of Prison Policy
Oct. 20, 1971  Racial Tensions in Prisons
Oct. 13, 1965  Rehabilitation of Prisoners
Oct. 09, 1957  Prisons and Parole
May 02, 1952  Penal Reform
Jan. 30, 1937  The Future of Prison Industry
May 08, 1930  Prison Conditions and Penal Reform
Sentencing and Corrections