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Analysis of the Use of the Structured Decision-Making Framework in Three States

"In recent years, interest in high-quality parole decision-making 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 decision-making tool for parole practitioners. This tool, the Structured Decision-making 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 decision-making. 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 Decision-making 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 Decision-making 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 Decision-making Framework can contribute to high-quality, transparent and consistent parole decision-making by the Ohio Parole Board, Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole, and Kansas Prisoner Review Board ... Given the high stakes involved in parole decision-making, 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 Decision-making Framework is warranted and is supported by preliminary promising results" (p. 46).