“The Endless Trap of American Parole: How can anyone rebuild their lives when they keep getting sent back to jail for the pettiest of reasons?” – The Washington Post Magazine

“In 2018, 1 out of every 58 American adults — roughly 4.4 million people — was under community supervision, the catchall term for probation and parole. The average supervisee must follow 17 standard conditions. If they break any of these, they could be reincarcerated.”

parole system(Zach Meyer for The Washington Post)

by Jennifer Miller

When William Palmer was 17, he put on a ski mask and tried to rob a man — a crime that landed him in prison for three decades. Now 49, he stood in a San Rafael, Calif., rehearsal hall practicing his original one-man play. The scene took place in a drugstore, and it revisited the moment that changed his life.

“’Why do you need to purchase a ski mask?’ Palmer asked, staring at an imaginary version of his teenage self. ‘You’re in California.’

“Then Palmer turned, embodying the boy. ‘Who are you, and why do you care?”’

“’I’m security,’ said the older, wiser Palmer. ‘You haven’t done anything wrong, but I wanted to talk to you. I wanted you to think: When you put on that ski mask, what are some of the things you could lose?’

“’You mean when I go skiing?’ the boy asked.

“The older Palmer wasn’t indulging the lie. ‘We lose our mom and dad,’ he said. ‘We never get married, we never have children.’

“’Whoa,’ the boy said, taking a step back. ‘Who’s ‘we’?'”

Read this article at The Washington Post Magazine in its entirety, click here.

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