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Probation and Parole - Parole Board

"In recent years, interest in high-quality parole decisionmaking has grown significantly. Paroling authorities are under considerable pressure and subject to substantial public scrutiny as they strive to reach high-quality parole decisions that ensure public safety. In this context, the Legal Decision-Making Lab at Carleton University has been working for nearly a decade to develop and improve a decisionmaking tool for parole practitioners. This tool, the Structured Decisionmaking Framework, acts as a road map or guideline for professional decisionmakers to help them reach consistent, transparent, and defensible high-quality conditional release decisions. It acknowledges the professional expertise and extensive experience of parole decisionmakers by using a structured approach that guides paroling authorities through the process of making parole decisions by considering offender information demonstrated to be closely linked to post-release performance. Given this grounding, the Framework can help paroling authorities incorporate or enhance the use of evidence-based practice in their decisionmaking. Through its technical assistance program, the National Institute of Corrections facilitated opportunities for three states—Ohio, Connecticut, and Kansas—to examine the use of the Structured Decisionmaking Framework in their jurisdictions. The paroling authorities in these states all received training in the use of the Framework. Though the Framework has been extensively validated and its use supported via research in Canada, each state also participated in a small-scale exercise aiming to provide preliminary validation results specific to their jurisdiction. This document summarizes the results of these validation exercises" (p. 2).

Sections following an executive summary include: the Structured Decisionmaking Framework; results regarding the use of the Framework and case outcomes in Ohio, Connecticut, and Kansas; and implications with concluding remarks. "Based on the results of these preliminary validation exercises, it appears that the Structured Decisionmaking Framework can contribute to high-quality, transparent and consistent parole decisionmaking by the Ohio Parole Board, Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole, and Kansas Prisoner Review Board … Given the high stakes involved in parole decisionmaking, even minimal improvements in predictive accuracy can result in fewer victims, better management of strained prison capacity, and cost savings. As such, continued investigation of the use of the Structured Decisionmaking Framework is warranted and is supported by preliminary promising results" (p. 46).

Analysis of the Use Cover

In states where pardoning is characterized as “frequent and regular,” there is a regular pardon process with a high percentage of applications granted (30% or more); where pardoning is “sparing,” there is a regular process but a low grant rate; where pardons are infrequent, uneven, or rare, the chart will generally indicate numbers

The legal liabilities that probation and parole officers face as they perform their duties are explained. Chapters comprising this publication are: an overview of state and federal legal liabilities; civil liability under state law—state tort cases; civil liability under federal law—Section 1983 cases; legal representation, attorneys’ fees, and indemnification; presentence and preparole investigations and reports; supervision; conditions, modifications, and changes in status; revocation; emerging trends concerning liability of probation and parole officers for supervisors; vicarious liability; direct liability for supervisors; agency liability for acts of supervisors; the nature of inmates’ rights; inmates’ rights at parole release hearings; liability of parole officers for crimes committed by released offenders; immunity for parole board officials; and questions, specific concerns, and general advice.

Civil Liabilities and Other Legal Issues for Probation/Parole Officers and Supervisors: 4th Edition Cover

The mission of the Parole Board is to increase public safety by evaluating an individual’s potential for successful reintegration to the community through the use of innovative evidence informed practices.

New parole board members and parole executives should read this publication. It will introduce them to the core competencies they need to have to effectively execute their public responsibilities. Chapters cover: the broad context of parole work—parole’s function, purpose, and role in the criminal justice system, parole and other state or local entities, and legal and ethical issues; discharging duties effectively—leadership, strategic planning, emerging best practices and evidence-based practices, and collaboration; and individual case decisionmaking—tools that promote consistent outcomes for similar cases, parole hearings, interviews and file reviews, parole conditions that support the goals of the parole board or agency and evidence-based principles and practices, and violation decisionmaking.

Core Competencies: A Resource for Parole Board Chairs, Members, and Executive Staff Cover

New parole board members and parole executives should read this publication. It “examines information emerging from research on evidence-based practice and decisionmaking in parole and the implications of these findings for paroling authorities” (p. viii). Five chapters comprise this document: evidence-based policy, practice, and decisionmaking—what it is and why paroling authorities should be interested in it; significant research findings regarding risk reduction—implications for paroling authorities; reaching the full recidivism reduction potential—using a systemwide approach to evidence-based decisionmaking; evaluating the research—how much evidence in enough; and the benefits of an evidence-based approach and recommendations for action—why pursue an evidence-based approach.

Evidence-Based Policy, Practice, and Decisionmaking: Implications for Paroling Authorities Cover

Parole decision—the decision to release an incarcerated individual from prison conditionally—is one of the most critical decisions across justice systems around the world. The decision carries with it significant consequences: for the freedom of the individual awaiting release (the parolee); for the safety of the community in which they will return; and for the correctional system overall, especially its organizational capacity. The current study attempts to add to the parole decision-making literature by specifically analyzing the role that mental health factors may play in explaining parole decisions. Research to date is inconclusive on whether or not mental illness is a risk factor for criminal behavior; despite this, individuals with mental health problems generally fare worse on risk assessment tools employed in justice decisions. The study relies on a 1000+ representative sample of parole-eligible individuals in Pennsylvania, United States. To increase reliability, the analyses test for several mental health factors based on information from different sources (i.e., self-reported mental health history; risk assessment tool employed by the Parole Board; and risk assessment tool employed by the Department of Corrections). To address validity concerns, the study controls for other potential correlates of parole decisions. Although the multivariate models explained a considerable amount of variance in parole decisions, the inclusion of mental health variables added relatively little to model fit. The results provide insights into an understudied area of justice decision making, suggesting that despite the stigmatization of mental illness among criminal justice populations, parole board members in Pennsylvania, United States, appear to follow official guidelines rather than to consider more subjective notions that poor mental health should negate parole release.

A Guide to the Parole Consideration Process for People in Georgia Prisons.

Individuals involved in making sure their parole agency’s goals are being met need to read this paper. It provides guidance for a paroling authority in “defining its vision and mission, assembling information and resources to accomplish its goals, and putting into place appropriate management and performance measurement systems to carry out its objectives and measure its progress” (p. v). Six chapters are contained in this publication: craft your vision and mission statements; assess your organization’s current operating practices; engage key partners; plan and take strategic action; review information and manage for results; and conclusion.

Paroling Authorities’ Strategic Planning and Management for Results Cover

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