by Julian Heicklen

December 1996

The petty criminals are in the Centre County Prison. The people more dangerous to a lawful society are in the Courthouse.

The Centre County Probation and Parole Department requires every parolee to sign away his constitutional rights in order to be paroled. The waiver form that a parolee must sign includes the provisions: "a) If I am ever charged with a probation, parole or furlough violation arising out of my conduct while in a jurisdiction other than the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the revocation of my probation, parole, or furlough for that violation may be based solely on documentary evidence and I hereby waive any right to confront or cross- examine any person who prepared any such documentary evidence or who supplied information used in its preparation. b) I expressly waive extradition to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from any jurisdiction in or outside the United States, where I may be found, and I shall not contest any effort by any jurisdiction to return me to the United States or to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. c) I expressly consent to the search of my person, property, and residence without a warrant by any Officer of the Centre County Probation and Parole Department. Any items, the possession of which constitutes a violation of probation, parole, or furlough shall be subject to seizure, and may be used as evidence in the probation, parole, or furlough revocation process."

The above provisions conflict with the 14th amendment of the U. S. Constitution as interpreted by the U. S. Supreme Court in Morrisey vs. Brewer (408 U. S. 471, 92 S. Ct. 2593, 33 L. Ed. 2d 484 [1972]). The Court ruled that under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, parolees are entitled to minimum due process safeguards when their "conditional liberty" is threatened by an accusation that they have violated the conditions of parole. The Court outlined a two-step process. At both stages, the Supreme Court outlined that the minimum protections the parolee is entitled to are: 1) written notice of the claimed violations, 2) disclosure to the parolee of the evidence against him, 3) opportunity to be heard in person and to present witnesses and documentary evidence, 4) the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, 5) a neutral and detached hearing body, and 6) a written statement by the fact-finders as to the evidence relied on and the reasons for revoking parole.

Every person under the jurisdiction of the Centre County Probation and Parole Department is taught a lesson about the U. S. legal system that he will remember the rest of his life. Unfortunately, it is a lesson that is not conducive to developing law-abiding citizens.