The Parole Interview as an Opportunity to Enhance an Offender’s Motivation to Change

In many jurisdictions paroling authority members, and/or their staff, conduct in-person interviews or hearings with inmates who are eligible for parole as part of their decisionmaking process. The interviewer typically has considerable discretion in fashioning his or her approach to the event. Goals for the interview include a wide range of issues, often including the gathering of further information about the offense, its impact upon the victim, the offender’s attitude toward the crime, involvement in programming while incarcerated, and other matters. In one way or another, many of these issues seek to better inform decisionmakers and equip them to make more sound parole decisions. In addition, some decisionmakers also view the interview as an opportunity to influence the parole candidate (e.g., his or her willingness to take responsibility for the crime, empathy for the victim, understanding of his or her own behavior and its consequences, willingness to participate in programming, and motivation to change.) Given the research evidence that internal, offender motivation to change is a key factor in actually changing behavior, and that there are ways of interacting with offenders that can enhance motivation, it is important to explore how this knowledge might be adapted to the parole hearing/interview setting. At the 2012 annual training conference of the Association of Paroling Authorities International (APAI), a panel of experts was convened to present information on Motivational Interviewing, to explore some of its potential uses in the parole interview setting, to explore insights emerging from an effort by the Colorado Board of Parole to utilize this techniques in its hearing process, and to respond to some of the questions and concerns voiced by parole board members at the session. Below are three brief video resources, drawn from discussions at the APAI conference. The videos can be viewed directly by clicking the “View Video” links below. The videos should be watched in consecutive order (either in one sitting, or separately as time allows.)

Video Resources

Video 1
The first video, roughly 10 minutes in length, is an exploration of the parole interview as an opportunity to interact with an offender in ways that could enhance his or her motivation to take the necessary steps to transition to a law abiding life—through the use of Motivational Interviewing.
View Video
Video 2
The second video, approximately
8 minutes in length, provides a definition and explanation of Motivational Interviewing and how it is being adopted by the Colorado Board of Parole.
View Video
Video 3
The third video, roughly 15 minutes in length, highlights some of the discussion and questions that arose among the participants at the APAI session in May of 2012, and which other parole board members viewing this video might have regarding the use of Motivational Interviewing
as a tool.
View Video

Additional Resources

For parole board members or staff who are interested in exploring this issue beyond these video resources, below are links to literature that can provide further information and/or assistance on this topic.

Visit the NIC web site at for additional Motivational Interviewing resources.