As a retired New York State parole commissioner, having served 12 years and having seen the benefits of parole, I strongly advocate for the reintroduction of parole in Maine. The goal is to reduce harm in the community and parole incentivizes this.

There are aspects that have been overlooked in the public debate.

There so far is no level playing field measuring victims’ suffering and offender punishment. No matter the time incarcerated, the crime can never be forgotten.

Victims services can be strengthened at time of offense. The court and Legislature decide the amount of time that fits the crime. If victims decide amount of time to be served, we will have vigilante justice. Victims should be spared revisiting their pain and we should not demand more from them.

A parole board should have the independent integrity, through the system’s policies, to make judgments regardless of political, media or victim pressures. These decisions come years, sometimes decades, after the crime has occurred and are granted only as adjudged appropriate.

There is no such thing as ‘early release.’ If paroled, a prisoner meets the minimum of the indeterminate sentence.

Parole is not forgiveness. The inmate continues to serve the sentence under close community supervision.

Reintroducing parole provides a hope for a second chance and peaceful community. Are we incarcerating as punishment, as deterrence, as separation from the community for safety? People will be eventually coming ‘home.’ Let’s do as much as we can to have a safer community.

Barbara Hanson Treen

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