Paroling Authority Self-Assessment Toolkit

Practice Target 9:

Develop and strengthen case-level decision making skills/capacities in these areas.

Decisions made by board members require careful individual judgment. Each decision made by a parole board member is unique, and the discretion of individual decisionmakers is critical. However, in the field of parole – like many others, there is significant movement underway to guide decisionmakers through routine aspects of their work in a more systematic manner (e.g., in the form of decisionmaking guidelines and assessment tools) to guide decisionmakers through the complex, but accepted, stages of the process and to ensure that similarly situated offenders facing similar circumstances encounter somewhat consistent responses23. Board members should be comfortable using the tools and frameworks that have been implemented in their respective states in order to allow for a sense of fundamental fairness (e.g., that similarly situated offenders in similar circumstances are treated similarly). In addition to becoming well-versed in the use of decisionmaking and assessment tools in use in their states, it is also important for board members to be skilled in interacting effectively with offenders. Research suggests that the quality of the interpersonal relationship between staff and offenders, along with the skills of staff, may be as or more important to risk reduction than the specific programs in which offenders participate24. Again, an understanding of each offender's individual criminogenic needs is also vital. Recent studies demonstrate that the amount of time supervision officers devote to dealing with offenders' criminogenic needs correlates inversely with recidivism: the more time spent dealing with a criminogenic need, the lower the rate of recidivism25. Conversely, the more time spent discussing non-criminogenic needs—which diminishes the amount of time spent addressing criminogenic needs—the higher the recidivism rate.

Using the assessment scale below, select a response to each question that (in your judgment) best reflects how fully your state and your board currently implement this aspect of the practice target under consideration. After clicking the “submit” button at the end of this section, you can view and print a summary of your responses that you can then use to guide a discussion with your fellow board members.


Does your board:

Hone their case decisionmaking skills through routine Board discussions regarding the use of their decisionmaking tools?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
Provide training in the use of various risk/needs assessment tools used in their jurisdiction?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
Familiarize new members with the format and significance of information found in case files?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
Provide training in interviewing skills, especially motivational interviewing techniques?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant
Progress Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
In your judgment, how would you characterize your board’s progress in this area, considering the expectations/characteristics outlined above, and the previous discussion?
In your judgment, how would you rate the IMPORTANCE of bringing this practice target to full implementation in order for you to accomplish your goals as a paroling authority? Why?

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