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Safely Behind Bars

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Ironically, the federal government is in the process of abolishing parole in favor of what it calls "supervised release," part of an overall shift in federal sentencing practices that dates back to 1987. The U.S. Parole Commission was originally slated to be phased out this year, but the agency recently received a five-year extension of its existence in order to deal with the thousands of prisoners convicted before 1987 who are still on parole--people who, because of problems on the inside or even greater problems on the street, are still stuck in the revolving door.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast