Chart of the Day: How to Get Parole

| Wed Apr. 13, 2011 5:30 PM EDT

Via Andrew Sullivan, here's a peek into the criminal justice system that's either fascinating or appalling depending on your temperament. Ed Yong explains:

The graph above [...] summarises the results of 1,112 parole board hearings in Israeli prisons, over a ten month period. The vertical axis is the proportion of cases where the judges granted parole. The horizontal axis shows the order in which the cases were heard during the day. And the dotted lines, they represent the points where the judges went away for a morning snack and their lunch break.

The graph is dramatic. It shows that the odds that prisoners will be successfully paroled start off fairly high at around 65% and quickly plummet to nothing over a few hours (although, see footnote). After the judges have returned from their breaks, the odds abruptly climb back up to 65%, before resuming their downward slide. A prisoner’s fate could hinge upon the point in the day when their case is heard.

This is something to keep in mind if you ever end up doing a stretch in San Quentin: when you come up for parole, be sure to bribe the bailiff to get you an early-morning hearing. It's money well spent.

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