“Why Illinois Must Bring Back the Parole System,” Michael Stone. Parole Illinois Essay Contest Finalist

Why Illinois Must Bring Back the Parole System

This past September, makes nineteen years I have been incarcerated. This is my first adult offense and I was given thirty years at seventeen years of age with no consideration to rehabilitate myself from a system that uses the foundation of its existence upon it. I have now been in prison longer than I have been free.

I came into the system as a kid. I was confused, lost, scared, angry, imbalanced and mindless. When I was convicted of the crime I was charged with I was sent to Stateville C.C.

I received my calculation sheet no more than 2 weeks after going through orientation. When I stared at the sheet the first thing I seen was a giant 100% sign on the top of it. Confused about what it meant, I asked a worker on the gallery.

The worker stated the 100% sign meant that I had to do 100% of my time and then is when I learned about the Truth In-Sentencing statute.

I couldn’t fathom doing 30 straight years in a box, so I decided with the help and guidance from the men around me to educate myself. I learned how to read and write in prison.

I entered a creative writing class that made me a better writer. I entered school and received my GED. Afterwards, I took up Barbers college and learned my first trade. During the following years of my incarceration I earned my associate’s degree, a certificate in custodial maintenance, along with certificates of high academic achievement; not to include all the other certificates I earned from the countless programs I participated in, but it felt like it didn’t mean nothing.

Even though I chose “Rehabilitation” for myself, there was nothing within the IDOC to recognize or even acknowledge the rehabilitation that took place within me.

Within every rule book, it states that the department’s vision and goals is to provide services geared towards offender rehabilitation. Bringing back the parole system would be the epitome of the visions and goals of the IDOC.

It will give prisoners an incentive to change. Failure to bring the parole system back will bring the wrong message, and has sent the wrong message that it is not about “rehabilitation”, and words like “Correctional Center” are only euphemistic titles to hide the concept of “lock’em up and throw away the key”. To keep us in prison as long as possible, which does not necessarily mean we will come back into society mentally equipped to adjust.

Bringing back the parole system to Illinois will not only have a positive effect on prisoners, but will benefit society socially and economically for all the reasons that have already been argued and proven.