Parole: a conditional release of a prisoner who has served part of a sentence and who remains under the control of and in the legal custody of a parole authority.
What really happens to a paroled inmate on his first day outside of prison. In the typical American prison movie or television show, a car, filled with family and/or friends, is waiting outside the prison entrance, for the paroled inmate. Fiction disguises the harsh reality facing an inmate paroled after many years of imprisonment.
Many times, there is no one waiting for the paroled inmate, outside the prison walls. Often, the inmate is released with little help from the Department of Corrections and the state’s parole agency. Colorado Public Radio has reported on one such case. After being incarcerated for almost thirty years, Colorado Kevin Monteiro was released in 2015. He was convicted of 2nd degree murder involving a drug deal.
A prison van transported him to a Greyhound bus stop in Denver. He had $100 and a box of his books to start his life over again. He was 56 years old. After 30 years, their were no friends or family for him. Christie Donner, the head of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, stated, “it’s a typical story, of being released with $100, and no preparation for a job, shelter, transportation, food, and clothing.” For inmates who have served decades, they face an unknown modern world.
Monteiro was required to meet his parole officer on the first day of his release. The agency was 10 miles from the bus station. Montiero benefited from a random act of kindness. He met an elderly couple and asked if he could use their phone to call his parole agent. The couple even drove him to the parole office. They waited, while Montiero requested from his agent, the voucher for a short stay at a motel. He was promised a voucher from prison officials. First, the agent indicated there was no voucher, but after Montiero cried,” I’m not going to leave here to fail. You can just go and cuff me back up and I’ll go back now… it’s been 30 years. All I’m asking you is to help me.” Finally, someone else in the office arranged for a temporary stay at a motel.
The kind couple bought Montiero some clothes, dinner, and drove him to the motel after giving him their cell number. This was his first day and he was extremely fortunate to ask the one couple out of ten thousand couples who would actually give this parolee help. The state of Colorado certainly did not provide Kevin Montiero the basic tools of surviving in the outside world for even one day. There are thousands of stories like Montiero happening every day in the United States.
Without a successful parole, you add another negative statistic to our high rate of recidivism. All of society suffers from recidivism. It is extremely difficult to achieve a successful parole, when the returning citizen is facing so many obstacles to becoming a member of society.
By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com