Goals of this Guide, and How to Use It
This Action Guide, Setting Parole Conditions to Achieve Public Safety, is designed to assist parole Boards improve and strengthen their practice with respect to setting conditions for parole release and supervision. It is one in a series of Action Guides developed by the National Parole Resource Center (NPRC) and builds upon the NPRC's Self-Assessment Toolkit for Paroling Authorities, an online guide that identifies ten practice targets paroling authorities should consider implementing to assist them in achieving their public safety and risk reduction goals.
Each Action Guide will address a different practice target and provide parole Board members the opportunity to consider each of the targets—explained in the Toolkit—in more depth.1 It is strongly recommended that parole Boards use the Toolkit as a first step before using this Action Guide—or any of the Guides in the series. The Toolkit reviews all of the practice targets, their basis in the research, and engages the user – through a series of questions – in a process of considering broadly how they see their own Board's current practices in each area. The Action Guides then support a Board in moving toward significant practice improvements in each area.
Specifically, this Action Guide on Setting Parole Conditions to Achieve Public Safety is intended to assist parole Board chairs, members, and staff to:
- Use the information and insights gained as a result of using the NPRC Self- Assessment Toolkit for Paroling Authorities;
- Consider how condition-setting practices can be part of a strategy for enhancing public safety and the wise use of resources;
- Develop a common understanding of the Board's current policies and practices with respect to condition setting;
- Review and analyze the evidence and "best practices" with respect to setting conditions and identify the gaps and challenges they want to address; and
- Consider what changes the Board would like to make and how to best plan and implement those changes.
Specifically, this Action Guide, when used effectively by a Board committed to improving public safety, will enable that Board to: fashion condition setting policy to minimize requirements on low risk offenders, and target conditions to criminogenic needs of medium and high risk offenders.
This guide is presented in sections to facilitate its use:
- Tab 1: Goals of this Guide and How to Use It.
- Tab 2: Background and Context provides an introduction and sets the context regarding the origins and traditional purposes for setting conditions.
- Tab 3: Understanding the Evidence and Its Implications for Setting Parole Conditions provides a brief overview of the empirical research on effective correctional practices and the setting of parole conditions to enhance community safety and reduce offender risk. It also addresses some of the challenges of implementing evidence-based condition setting practices.
- Tab 4: Moving Toward Implementing Practice Improvements and Performance Measurement details seven steps, highlighted in a graphic "roadmap," that Boards can take to develop and implement change strategies to improve current condition setting policies and practices. The steps include a set of questions that, if answered accurately, will give Boards a snapshot of key aspects of their condition setting practices. This section also provides examples of conditions – standard and special – that other Boards have elected to adopt. The section includes a sample action plan format and tools to guide parole Boards through a process of revisiting/updating the goals they hope to accomplish, and defining/implementing changes they conclude and agree must be made in policy and/or practice , and closes with a plan to measure performance and offers considerations for defining and measuring progress toward success, and using measurement feedback to continue strengthening practice going forward.
- Tab 5: References/Endnotes provides documentation of the literature and research upon which this Action Guide is based.
- Tab 6: Links lists helpful resources used by the NPRC in assembling this Action Guide and which are recommended for those wanting to supplement their knowledge on this topic. The listings in this tab provide direct links to web-based resources.
1 The complete Action Guide Series will include: Use of Sound, Actuarial Assessments of Risk and Needs; Use of Evidence-based Decisionmaking Tools, Policies and Guidelines; Paroling Authorities: The Importance of Developing Meaningful Partnerships; Parole Boards as Critical Stakeholders in Targeting Resources to Enhance Community Safety; Release Considerations with Low Risk Offenders; The Parole Interview as an Opportunity to Enhance Motivation to Change; A Strategic Approach to Setting Parole Conditions; and A Strategic Approach to Responding to Parole Violations.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2010-DJ-BX-K140 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.