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Commission Says Parole Should Return In Maine

A commission has recommended that parole should be re-established in Maine.

Maine was one of the first states in the nation to abolish parole in 1976. However, parole remains for those sentenced prior to the date of the law that abolished parole in the state. There are currently 11 people on parole and while there is an active parole board, only a handful could be eligible for those sentenced before it's eradication.

The commission was made of members of the senate and house, a judge, prosecutor, representative of the incarcerated, and expert on criminal procedure (defense attorney James Mason). Among others. It came to its conclusion after five meetings and representations from those who would be affected by the proposed change.

Its focus was on how parole worked in other states, particularly in Colorado, the benefits and drawbacks of parole, different models for delivering it, the effect of parole on parolees, the costs and saving, and how to implement any change.

In its report, commission said it found racial disparities between the prison population and the demographics in the state to be "staggering." There was a three-fold over representation of non-white male inmates, and double that if female non-whites, compared to Maine's demographics.

The commission said the Maine Department of Corrections Year-End Adult Data Reports from 2021 and 2020 showed that 18% of the male prison population and 12% of the female prison population is non-white, compared to only 5.8% of the state population.

It's recommendation to re-establish parole also came with another for extra resources for victims, since they too can often commit offenses in the future, and legal representation for those going through the process. It also said there should be reform of mandatory minimum penalties.

However the vote to re-establish parole was not unanimous. Seven voted for it, two voted against, and another three (including the prosecutor representative) abstained. Supporters were Sen. Craig Hickman, Rep. Charlotte Warren, Rep. Jeffery Evangelos, Joseph Jackson, James Mason, Arthur Jones, Whitney Parrish. Those who opposed were Commissioner Randall Liberty, Sen. Cyrway. Abstained were Laura Yustak, William Stokes, Natasha Irving (prosecutor).


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