American Exceptionalism in Parole Release and Supervision: A European Perspective

Dirk van Zyl Smit, Alessandro Corda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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This chapter focuses on American exceptionalism in parole release and supervision. It first establishes a clear understanding of what is meant by granting parole and parole supervision in the United States and Europe within the respective sentencing schemes and then gives a comparative statistical picture. The chapter then considers the history of parole on both sides of the Atlantic, before examining and comparing current policies in the United States and Europe in more detail. The principal finding is that European parole, unlike its American counterparts, is dominated by a discourse that stresses and highlights human dignity and procedural justice rather than public safety. In the American discourse, by contrast, there is less emphasis on the rights of parolees. Parole decision-making and supervision are mainly shaped by risk aversion. To conclude, this chapter reflects on whether European ideals for parole may take root in the United States.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Exceptionalism in Crime and Punishment
EditorsKevin R. Reitz
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages77
ISBN (Print)9780190203542
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2018


  • parole
  • comparative criminal justice
  • American exceptionalism
  • punishment
  • community supervision

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