On Tuesday, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, will hear oral arguments in a case that may provide a rare chance to reform New York’s antiquated, ineffective and unfair parole system.

The basic idea behind parole is simple: People can change. It isn’t always easy, but if they succeed, they should have the opportunity to get out of prison a little sooner — even if their crime was serious.

When parole works, everyone benefits. But the tough-on-crime politics of the past few decades led many states and the federal government to eliminate parole. States that retained it can be a model for rehabilitating prisoners and shrinking prisons while still keeping the public safe.

The job is delicate; any high-profile crime by a parolee can become a political disaster. But modern risk-assessment tools have helped states make smarter, more informed choices about whom to let out.

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