‘Walking on Ice’: The Future of Parole in a Risk-Obsessed Society – Theoretical Criminology – article

‘Walking on Ice’: The Future of Parole in a Risk-Obsessed Society

Monica Barry | Theoretical Criminology


The aim of risk assessment and management in criminal justice is increasingly about minimizing opportunities to create harm to the public rather than maximizing opportunities to create change in offenders. This seems to be particularly the case in respect of parole, where the balance of public protection with rehabilitation has become increasingly unstable in prioritizing the former. This article examines parole decision making and management within the UK from the perspectives of both high risk offenders on licence and parole professionals. It discusses two key drivers to burgeoning recall rates: the stringency of licence conditions and the propensity of professionals to recall in the name of risk elimination rather than risk reduction. The article concludes that the effectiveness of parole is in question, not least in enabling re-entry and reintegration of high risk prisoners. In particular, the future sustainability of parole itself is deemed to be under threat.


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