Use of Valid Actuarial Assessments of Risk and Needs

Moving Toward Implementing Practice Improvements and Performance Measurement

In light of the issues outlined in the earlier sections of this guide a parole Board may decide that a careful review of the potential for development of parole guidelines is warranted.  If that is the case, it is recommended that a Board consider the following five-step process as a way of moving forward.   Undertaking this process, as a team, will encourage the development of a shared understanding of the Board's current thinking regarding decisionmaking, and help the Board to revisit shared goals and values, and to consider whether they want to move forward to develop decision guidelines and put in place policies about the use of decisionmaking tools.

The NPRC has developed individual Action Guides on the use of risk and needs assessment (insert link), and on the setting of parole conditions.  This Action Guide builds on these previous guides and contains suggested steps to focus specifically on structured decisionmaking—parole guidelines—as a possible tool for consideration by a Board.  The steps suggested for a parole Board to follow in considering release decisionmaking practices and guidelines are:

  1. Build a shared understanding of the Ten Practice Targets identified by the National Parole Resource Center;
  2. Gather and review information to develop a shared understanding of the Board's current policies and practices;
  3. Identify potential improvements in practice in light of this information;
  4. Agree on specific change targets and a work plan for their implementation; and
  5. Plan to measure performance.

The remainder of this section moves through these steps to assist parole Boards in exploring and enhancing their current understanding of the research, in exploring their own Board's existing policy/practice, in assessing whether opportunities for change exist, and in planning for desired change.  Regardless of whether Boards are engaging this process as a full body, subcommittee, or working group, it will be important to move through this process as a team.  A team-based approach provides a strong basis for developing a clear, shared understanding of the current situation in which to examine what changes will strengthen their practice.

A "roadmap" that illustrates graphically the steps recommended and provides a way to navigate to a description of each step is below: 

Current Condition Setting Practice Step 1: Convene Board or working group and agree on a charter. Step 2: As a team, complete the NPRC Self-Assessment Tool Kit. Step 3: Review the evidence-based practice research on condition setting. Step 4: Develop a shared understanding of your board's current condition setting practice. Step 5: Consider your Board's goals for condition setting and develop a shared statement for your purpose; convene working sessions to discuss: number of conditions, standard and special conditions, targeting for maximum risk reduction, and conditions for special populations of offenders. Step 6: Develop a strategy to implement changes to condition setting policy and practice. Step 7: Develop a plan to measure performance.

The remainder of this section moves through these steps to assist Parole Boards – working as a team – in exploring the existing state of collaboration, assessing whether opportunities for change exist, and planning for desired changes.


< An Evidence-Based Approach
to Release Decisionmaking

Step 1: Build a Shared Understanding >