On average, parolees are ordered to pay $743 in supervision fees over the course of their parole terms.
This report explains how Maryland’s parole supervision fee works against the rehabilitative goals of the state’s supervision policies and how the $40/month fee can impede a person’s successful reentry.
Many people under criminal justice supervision are unable to find a job for an extended period of time following their release, making it almost impossible to pay this monthly parole fee. The result is mounting debt and threats of parole revocation. Because eligibility evaluations are rarely conducted, fee exemptions are rarely granted, so there is virtually no relief for people on parole who cannot afford the supervision fee. The authors call for the abolishment of this fee and provide recommendations for the state to consider as alternatives.
- “When it authorized the fee in 1991, the Legislature knew that most parolees would be unable to afford the fee, and therefore built in exemptions,” but the system for granting exemptions is broken.
- Despite the fact that most parolees are unemployed and are unable to afford the fee, only 7% of parolees were granted exemptions.
- On average, parolees are ordered to pay $743 in supervision fees over the course of their parole terms.
- Only 17% of the supervision fees assessed are collected by the end of parole.
- Revenue generated by the supervision fee is not dedicated to financing parole supervision; “instead, it is diverted to the state’s general fund.”
- Efforts to collect parole fees by the Division of Parole and Probation and by the Central Collection Unit pressures individuals, undermines reentry, and is out-of-step with Maryland’s effort to reduce recidivism.
For the Maryland Legislature:
- Abolish the parole supervision fee outright.
- Implement a sliding scale fee tailored to an individual’s financial circumstances.
- Ensure that the obligation to pay the fee does not commence until a Division of Parole and Probation agent has done an initial assessment of the parolee’s financial circumstances.
For the Parole Commission:
- Evaluate exemptions up front (e.g. disability status, “enrollment in job training and other educational programs, family obligations combined with undue hardship, and other extenuating circumstances.”)
For the Division of Parole and Probation:
- Direct parole agents to help individuals apply for exemptions.
For the Central Collection Unit:
- Eliminate the 17% surcharge added to parole supervision fee debt.