sidebar - Parole - NIC Resources
"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).
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.
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.
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.
According to those who study evidence-based teaching methods, comparing and contrasting two different objects, persons, or even fields and disciplines, such as pretrial release and probation, can have one of the greatest effects on learning. Indeed, comparing and contrasting is considered to be one of the earliest ways that we humans begin learning (going back to how we identify things in early childhood) and makes the best use of elements necessary for all effective learning methods, each of which allows us to form relationships between constructs through reasoning. In sum, comparing and contrasting is highly valuable. Nevertheless, there are three prerequisites to any compare and contrast exercise.
This guide is designed to “lay out the context, summarize the key issues, highlight the recent research, and provide suggestions about where to find more extensive and detailed resources” about special populations parole boards may have contact with (p. xiii). Seven chapters are contained in this publication: sex offenders; offenders who have significant mental health concerns; offenders who have significant substance abuse problems; women offenders; aging or geriatric offenders; youthful/juvenile offenders in the adult correctional system; and the challenges of housing for offenders released from prison.
“This paper provides suggestions and examples about how these key decisionmaking functions of parole [which offenders participate in which programs, when, and for how long] can be shaped to target resources effectively according to the principles of risk, need, and responsivity” (p. viii). Sections of this publication include: introduction; historical context; the cusp of change; parole at the crossroads; resources to support parole’s new role; targets of excellence in paroling authority decisionmaking; specific steps paroling authorities can take to enhance their ability to provide “targeting”; policy-driven parole decisionmaking—individual and team excellence; and conclusion.