The Washington Post article reports the experience of DC native James Dunn to demonstrate all that is wrong with the current system of parole under the federal U.S. Probation Service (USPC). Despite being fully qualified for parole, the USPC denied him release three times. Mr. Dunn was finally able to win release under DC’s new second chance legislation.
The District has an opportunity to take back control of it’s parole system from the USPC. However, as the article reports, city officials have to date taken no steps to make this happen. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton has long supported this move. “Autonomy over parole is an important step we must take on our path to statehood,” she stated.
But Rep. Holmes Norton further noted that “… the District has taken no action to prepare for this reversion.”
Dunn’s case is not an isolated example. According to the article:
“Current and former D.C. prisoners claim Dunn’s experience mirrors that of hundreds who’ve faced the federal U.S. Parole Commission, which they say frequently denies release without reason and does not include a single District native.”
The article notes that there are different views of how the parole function should be realized in D.C. The article quotes several people who have supported having a District controlled parole authority.
- Jeremiah Mungo, 44, was among the signatories on a July petition, which called for at least one formerly incarcerated resident to be on D.C.’s new local parole board. This way, Mungo said, the values of many could carry weight, compared to a single Superior Court judge.
- Kristin Eliason, director of legal and strategic advocacy at the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C., said her organization is in favor of a local parole board for the same reason.