Imprisoned for Life: The Politics of Parole
A life sentence with the possibility of parole is one of the only sentences in California designed to encourage the convicted to reform. Lindsey Bolar, who served 23 years in prison before receiving parole, believes “lifers make up your best population in prison.” After serving between 20 and 25 years, Bolar says, “you know that the mad stupid stuff doesn’t go anymore, then all of a sudden you are trying to find a meaning for your life and you want to go home.”
The system seems to work. Only around one percent of lifers return to prison after being released, and almost never for another violent crime. Still, for the past three decades, it has been nearly impossible to be freed. The reasons have less to do with public safety than politics. In the second segment of a three-part series, we look at the political chutes and ladders of California’s parole process.