The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: BRAD CARNEY '21

Brad Carney '21

Brad Carney '21 interning at The New Hampshire Adult Parole Board during the 2020 summer term.

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This past summer, I interned at The New Hampshire Adult Parole Board, which is an agency that presides over parole hearings. My task was to research the parole practices in other states and record them down. Over my internship, I combed through hundreds of state statues and parole handbooks to understand how parole is issued, broadly speaking, in the United States. Each state has different guidelines and requirements handed down from their respective legislature. Moreover, not every state is equal in their successful reduction of recidivism, therefore I had to consider multiple factors when considering which states are most applicable to New Hampshire and what factors are transferable.

I hope to use the knowledge and experience I gained from this internship in my legal career. After hours of research and writing, I can report that the parole systems in many states are not equally just for all. This does not imply that they cannot be fixed, however, there is a lot of work to be done. Specifically, as I learned more the issue of “evidence-based” practices, the legality surrounding them appeared on my radar. To be sure, using statistics and historical data to predict future recidivism risk is not wrong prima facie. There are potential problems, however, with respect to evidence-based practices and constitutionality as these practices potentially serve as a proxy for race.

The time spent doing this type of independent research was the first in my academic history. I had guidelines for the task, but I was largely left to figure out where and how to get information. This led to me becoming proficient at reading state statutes and finding information relating to parole nestled inside lengthy volumes of information. In my future career as an attorney the ability to quickly search through and analyze dense text is a skill that will be useful.

I loved the large amount of autonomy I had in my internship. I was able to not only look at relevant state statutes, but also explore the context behind different parole philosophies. Because of the freedom, I stumbled upon a huge issue of debate in the legal field of whether actuarial devices are constitutional. This had real implications for the recommendations I put forth because the issue was no longer black and white. After my discovery of this potential constitutional issue, I am now interested in the legal question and validity of actuarial devices when used in parole making decisions.

I learned that I enjoy doing research into the justice system. The myriad of issues and the pursuit of justice is a never-ending quest. The question of what policies or laws are pursuant to justice is something that has shown itself to be more complex than I previously thought. To this end, I anticipate law school to provide sufficient academic exposure to the issues I have uncovered in my pursuit of better parole practices.

The Rockefeller Internships Program has funding for Dartmouth undergraduate students to help defray the cost of living expenses associated with a full-time, unpaid, leave-term internships in the fields of public policy, public affairs, and social entrepreneurship.

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