Goals of this Guide and How to Use It
This Action Guide, A Strategic Approach to Responding to Parole Violations, is designed to assist parole Board members considering the development, modification, or improvement of their parole violation systems by developing more effective responses to violations, and improving parole violation decision making. It is one in a series of Action Guides developed by the National Parole Resource Center (NPRC) and builds upon 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 addresses a different practice target and provides parole Board members the opportunity to consider each of the targets—explained in the Toolkit—in more depth. 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 research, and engages the user – through a series of questions – in a process of considering broadly how they see their current practices in each area. The Action Guides then support a Board in moving toward significant practice improvements in each area.
This Action Guide is intended to assist parole Board chairs, members, and staff to:
- Develop an understanding of contemporary research and "best practices" regarding parole supervision and responses to violations;
- Establish consensus regarding the overarching philosophies, goals and objectives and Board expectations for responding to violations of parole supervision in their jurisdiction;
- Develop a shared understanding about the current philosophies and decisionmaking processes and the extent to which they align with "best practices;"
- Consider the potential significance and implications of specific parole conditions and supervision requirements on parole compliance and outcomes;
- Review parole violation options that might be utilized in order to best "match" offender violations with appropriate responses;
- Identify potential ways to enhance or streamline the structure and practice of parole violation decision making, and consider opportunities to empower staff to make parole violation decisions that are consistent with the Board's expectations;
- Explore the value of using a parole violations decision making tool to, among other things, improve consistency of response; and
- Consider what changes the Board would like to make and how to best plan and implement those changes.
This guide is presented in the following sections:
- Tab 1: Goals of this Guide and How to Use It.
- Tab 2: Background and Context provides an introduction and provides a historical context for responding to parole violations, provides information about the number of parolees under supervision and the number of parole violators returned to prison in the U.S., and explores the inter-relationship between parole conditions, parole supervision approaches, and responses to parole violations.
- Tab 3: Understanding the Philosophy and Evidence about Responding Most Effectively to Violations, provides a brief overview of evidence-based supervision approaches, the emergence of more effective responses to violations, the structure of efficient parole violation systems, opportunities to utilize objective risk-based tools to improve parole violation decision making, and outcomes associated with changes made in parole violation systems.
- 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 policies and practices regarding responses to parole violations. The steps include a set of questions that, if answered accurately, will provide a snapshot of key aspects of these practices. This section also provides examples of policies regarding parole violations 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 agree must be made in policy and practice. It 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 provide documentation of the literature and research upon which this Action Guide is based.
- Tab 6: Links lists helpful resources used by NPRC in assembling this Action Guide and that are recommended for those wanting to supplement their knowledge on this topic. The listings in this tab provide direct links to web-based resources.
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.