Weber’s Authority

The purpose of the parole board is to determine when an individual is able to reintegrate into society without a change of recommitting a crime. Preventing recidivism plays an enormous part in determining whether or not someone will make the cut or not. In doing so, the main focus of the parole board of Canada is to ensure the safety of those in society.  Parole is a release that allows the incarcerated to finish the remaining time left in their sentence in the community.  This service is done under the surveillance of a parole officers from the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). The officers uses his or her authority to determine whether the incarcerated will receive day parole or full parole. The prior requires you to return to the prison at the end of each day and you must meet with a parole officer regularly. The latter involves you living in the community while under communal supervision. You can love on your own but must also meet with your parole officers on a regular basis. These meetings are used to discuss changes and/or plan for life after release.

Weber’s theories take on the aspect of power. He went on to say that power was “the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests” (Pavlich, 2011). He also went on to note that power implies that an individual with obey any command given to them. “When power and discipline are incorporated into forms of authority, we are dealing with the probability that ‘specific commands…will be obeyed by a given group of people” (Pavlich, 2011).

Max Weber goes on to say that individuals will reply to given power in a variety of different ways. With this, various parole hearings will be dealt differently by different offenders. He created five different forms of authority. Legitimate authority, charismatic type of legitimate authority, traditional forms of legitimate authority, charismatic types of legitimate authority, and bureaucratic authority. As stated above, parolees are required to obey the rules given to them and the authority comes in forms of orders from those with all the power; the parole board. This is an example of bureaucratic authority. This is known because bureaucratic authority involves “administration with hierarchical offices, and official duties governed by rules and so on” (Pavlich, 2011).

Weber discusses categories of legal thought and divides them according to degree of rationality and degree of formality. The work of the Parole Board of Canada would fall under substantively irrational thought. Under said category, lawmakers and law discoverers refer to one or more external criteria but do not need to follow general rules or norms. For example, each case that a parole officer deals with is different. An individual may or may not be offered parole based on a variety of different factors that the Parole Officer needs to take into consideration. It could be anything from factors within the case to factors preceding or after the crime was committed. Decisions in this legal thought are also made on ad hoc basis. This means that no formal efforts to maintain consistency are made. As stated above, each case takes on a different form and parole officers are required to deal with them on a case by case basis. Each concrete situation determines the decision. Unlike court cases which influence one another, factors from Case A will never affect what the parole officer does in Case B. Again, each case has its own separate entity and must be dealt with in this way. Finally, outsiders cannot predict the outcome of cases and they are the least predictable. This means that only the parole board officers are able to come up with a solution. They are given all the factors in a case and make their points accordingly. The officer asks various questions to guide the incarcerated and must look at all points including mental health records; which obviously are not of access to the general public. The main point to reconsider is the risk of recidivism. If the officer believes that the accused will be safe in the community, he or she will grant parole. If not, the accused may appeal the decision.

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One response to “Weber’s Authority

  1. Generally, an effective post. I hope to see some engagement with source materials next time. Your analysis of the form of law applicable to Parole Board decision-making is accurate.

    Question: Would modifying the parole process to reflect a substantively rational legal form be in the public interest?