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LWC Prof. Dan Phillips publishes book on probation and parole

'For every person in prison, there are probably 2.5 on parole

By Duane Bonifer, LWC Director of Public Affairs

A Lindsey Wilson College professor hopes his latest criminal justice book will contribute to a better understanding of probation and parole issues faced in America.

Daniel Phillips edited Probation and Parole, published by Taylor & Francis, to give both students and the general public a better understanding about the complexity of the two issues. Issues discussed in the book range from mental health to rehabilitation options.

"Most people don't realize this, but for every one person in jail or prison, there are probably two or two-and-a-half people on parole," said Phillips, who is Lindsey Wilson associate professor of sociology and criminal justice. "So the vast majority of people under correctional supervision are living in your community."

One of the issues the book explores is why some criminals choose to serve a prison sentence over being released on parole. The reason: a prison sentence is typically shorter than a parole period.

"Most people are convinced that people will do anything to stay out of incarceration," Phillips said. "But in all actuality, there are many people these days who will put up with a year in prison versus five years on probation."

Phillips said that is important for policy makers and lawmakers to keep in mind - especially in states such as Kentucky, where prison overcrowding has reached near-crisis levels.

"What officials might find is that there may not be that many people willing to take parole in exchange for an early release," Phillips said.

Another issue the book explores is restoring rights, such as voting, to convicted felons.

"If you think about it, the kinds of people committing crimes and going to prison are typically not the kinds of people lining up to vote," Phillips said. "But a lot of people say, 'When I get out of prison I want to get my life back. And one way to get my life back is getting the right to vote again.'"

Dealing with mentally ill parolees is another critical issue discussed in the book.

"One of the biggest problems with people with mental illnesses is that when they leave any kind of supervision, many times they stop taking their medicine ... and things get worse for them," Phillips said.

In addition to editing Probation and Parole Phillips has remained busy with several other scholarly activities. He's been asked to edit a special edition of the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation; he will make several presentations next spring at the annual meeting of the American Jail Association; and he was recently named to the international advisory board of the International Journal of Prisoner Health.

"One reason there is so much to do in this field is because so much is going on right now in the discipline of criminal justice," Phillips said. "It's an exciting time to be a part of it."

This story was posted on 2008-10-26 07:08:42
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