Plot: In this episode of Frontline, we’re taken inside the parole system of Connecticut and given a chance to see how this aspect of the corrections department functions. Given that almost half of those given parole wind up back in prison, it is clear the system has flaws, but can it be fixed or at least improved? This piece introduces us to several recent parolees, the parole officers assigned to their cases, and others involved in the criminal justice system. In addition to Frontline’s crew, the piece includes camera phone footage taken by the parolees themselves, which adds a unique perspective. So if you’ve ever wondered what life on parole is like or how the system works, Frontline has given you this inside look at the process.
Entertainment Value: This program follows over two years in the lives of four people on parole in the state of Connecticut. The four participants offer unique perspectives on the system, showing us how differently the system can be handled and the varied results that can come out of the process. One parolee flaunts the rules right in front of his parole officer, but is given chance after chance, while another parolee breaks the rules once and is carted off back to prison. As the program covers two years of time, you’re able to see how those involved cope with the parole lifestyle and eventually, if they’re able to transition back to a more normal life. I also appreciated seeing things from the parole officer standpoint, the trials of their work and how trying to make the right decisions can be an agonizing process. Life on Parole doesn’t offer up potential solutions to the issues with the system, but it does let us inside the process and watch as four people try to navigate it. If you have an interest in the justice system, this is a worthwhile program, made to the usual Frontline standards.