PBS Frontline Doc Profiles Parole Reform In Hartford

Jul 17, 2017

Governor Dannel Malloy’s “Second Chance Society” has reduced prison population numbers and streamlined aspects of the parole process in Connecticut. Today, about 5,000 people are supervised by parole in the state, but about a third of all parolees violate terms of their release and end up back behind bars.

That’s according to a new PBS Frontline documentary called "Life on Parole," which explores the state’s parole reforms through the stories of four Connecticut offenders.

Speaking on WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, writer and director Matthew O’Neill said the state is trying to give parolees more second chances.

“The parole system is really changing,” O’Neill said. “My conception of it would be, basically, one and done. You break the rules -- you have the privilege of being paroled -- you're going to be sent back to prison. But I think that there's a changing attitude.”

O’Neill praised the state for bringing down its prison population and reforming the way parole is run.

“What function to we want parole to do in our society? What function do we want incarceration to have in our society?” O’Neill asked. “Is it to punish people? Or is it to make our society safer? Is it retribution? Or is it offering a helping hand?”

The documentary also tells the stories of three parole officers, whom O’Neill said are an often unseen part of the criminal justice system.

“Parole officers are dealing with some of the most complex people,” O’Neill said. “And they’re making calls that are very difficult.”

"Life on Parole," which focuses heavily on the city of Hartford, premieres Tuesday at 10:00 pm on CPTV.