Paroling Authority Self-Assessment Toolkit
Practice Targets Defined
The ten practice targets for paroling authorities—which form the basis for this guide—are designed to assist paroling authorities to:
- Enhance public safety;
- Contribute to the prudent use of public resources;
- Offer an important opportunity for victims of crime to be respectfully heard and acknowledged;
- Preserve paroling authority discretion;
- Provide important transparency and credibility; and
- Insulate paroling authorities in the event of community failures.
These practices are:
- Supported by the research as effective in enhancing public safety and the prudent use of public resources;
- Embraced as "best practices" by the field; and
- Articulated by the National Parole Resource Center's project advisers and leadership.
The ten practice targets are:
- Use good, empirically-based actuarial tools to assess risk and criminogenic needs of offenders.
- Develop and use clear, evidence-based, policy-driven decisionmaking tools, policies, and guidelines that reflect the full range of a paroling authority's concerns (e.g., punishment, victim issues, community safety, etc.).
- Maintain meaningful partnerships with institutional corrections and community supervision (and others) to encourage a seamless transition process and the availability of sound, evidence-based programs.
- Use their influence and leverage to target institutional and community resources to mid and high risk offenders to address their criminogenic needs.
- Consider for release at the earliest stage possible—in light of statutes and other sentencing interests—offenders assessed as low risk.
- Use the parole interview/hearing/review process as an opportunity to—among other goals—enhance offender motivation to change.
- Fashion condition setting policy to minimize requirements on low risk offenders, and target conditions to criminogenic needs of medium and high risk offenders.
- Develop policy-driven, evidence-informed responses to parole violations that incorporate considerations of risk, criminogenic need and severity, assure even-handed treatment of violators, and utilize resources wisely.
- Develop and strengthen case-level decision making skills/capacities in these areas.
- Develop and strengthen agency level policy making, strategic management and performance measurement skills/capacities.
According to Campbell (2008) in A Framework for Paroling Authorities in an Era of Evidence-Based Practice): "A well-educated paroling authority that uses current research to guide the way it operates and makes decisions can help make our communities safer and stop needless expenditures of precious public resources. These are individuals who can and will collaborate with system and community partners, who understand and will use current research, and who will build infrastructure and capacity within parole organizations for delivering services effectively and efficiently."
In addition to risk/harm reduction goals, and the wise use of public resources, paroling authorities are also interested in empirical research as it relates to, among other things:
- The most effective and sensitive methods to interact with victims and provide victim notification;
- The costs and benefits associated with conducting video versus in-person hearings; and
- For those with supervision oversight responsibilities, research-supported approaches to caseload assignments and caseload size.
This Assessment Toolkit and its practice targets are not meant to address these important concerns—or many others that boards may have as they carry out their complex responsibilities. Rather, this Toolkit is designed as a resource to guide parole boards as they review their own practices as they relate to risk reduction, public safety, and the wise use of public resources.
By answering this series of questions as a group, and then considering the feedback provided by a summation of the response, Boards using this Toolkit can identify areas for further consideration as they continue to strengthen their practices.