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Surveying the Field: State-Level Findings From the 2008 Parole Practices Survey

NCJ Number
Jesse Jannetta; Aaron Horvath
Date Published
August 2011
52 pages
Given that research has identified strategies that are effective in reducing the risk that offenders will revert to a life of crime and drug abuse, the current study examined the prevalence of the general use of these strategies (called "evidence-based practices" [EPB]), as well as specific evidence-based and promising practices as presented in "Putting Public Safety First: 13 Parole Supervision Strategies To Enhance Reentry Outcomes" (Solomon et al. 2008).
In a survey of parole practices in 36 States, 27 of the States reported the widespread use of EBPs and many components of effective parole supervision. In addition, fundamental tools that support effective parole practices, such as risk/needs assessment and sanctioning grids and guidelines, also have widespread use. The survey found, however, that there is a common confusion about the definition of EBPs. Eleven of the 36 States indicated they were unsure about whether their parole office used EBPs. Similar confusion existed about the use of motivational interviewing and agency efforts to track recidivism. In addition, parole field offices in 10 States did not know whether parole recidivism was being tracked. This suggests that many States do not measure recidivism as a key outcome variable for assessing field office performance. Approaches for enhancing parolee motivation and engage the parolee's prosocial supports were not common practice in many States. Responses indicate that involving parolees in setting supervision goals, using motivational interviewing, and engaging significant others in the parolee's life were occurring less than half the time in the majority of the 36 States. Most respondents indicated that earned discharge from supervision was not available. The survey concludes that although EBPs have been widely accepted in principle, implementation and evaluation of these practices in specific settings falls short. Recommendations for addressing these challenges are offered. 14 references, 5 figures, 3 tables, and appended survey results by State