An Insider's Look Into the Parole System

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It's the start of another day of home visits for parole officer John Rush, checking to make sure that his parolees are staying straight.

His first contact of the day---Billy Clayberger just out of prison after serving time for attempted armed robbery and aggravated assault, now under the care of Officer Rush.

"I've got to report every month, get drug screenings, and pretty much stay out of trouble," said Clayberger.

Between trying to keep a steady job and staying off drugs, it's sometimes hard for the former offender to follow the right path.

"He has gotten into trouble, but I think we have gotten him back on the right track. He has a job, and is working on a regular basis. That's the key to success," said Officer Rush.

The next stop...David Rodgers, who served time for selling cocaine.

Out of jail for 13 months, he says the parole process has helped set his priorities straight, and also allowed him to be there for his newborn baby boy.

"It's a good program, it gets you out and keeps you focused on doing the right thing, like keeping you drug-free, making sure you have a home and a job," said Rodgers.

Many critics of the parole process feel these offenders should serve what they are sentenced.

Even though there are always those who will never change from their criminal ways, parole officers say most can rehabilitate, and the parole process is the best way.

"Instead of letting you out on your own, which give you the option to do bad things again, it's a way to lead you to the right direction where you need to be," said Rodgers.

"Every one deserves a second chance. It's the best thing that's happened to me," said Clayberger.

When it comes to violent offenders, families of their victims usually fight to keep them in prison for as long as possible.

To hear their voices, the Georgia Parole Board will be holding a Victims' Visitors Day on Thursday, May 21st.

It will  be at the Columbus Parole Office, at 114 Enterprise Court, from 10 AM to 7 PM.

You can call 706-653-4426 to make an appointment.