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Effective Supervision 

Many strategies are used to keep offenders in a pattern of success, strategies derived from a wide body of correctional research known as evidence based practices (EBP) or the Principles of Effective Intervention that promise significant reductions in offender recidivism.
Evidence based practices expert, Mark Carey (The Carey Group) (pdf) has provided training on this topic to both line staff on how to incorporate these skills into practice and supervisors on how to reinforce the use of EBP skills. These strategies are used throughout the entire parole process, but they become especially important during field supervision to make sure that any progress an offender has made is maintained effectively.

Determine Risk/Needs Using Actuarial Assessments

The research shows that using actuarial assessments to determine risk and needs is superior to using unguided clinical judgment. Even experienced clinicians are correct in predicting outcomes only about half the time whereas assessments are accurate approximately 70%-80% of the time.
The Board of Probation and Parole (Board) uses the LSI-R as its primary field risk/needs assessment. The LSI-R is used in over 500 jurisdictions around the world. The Board has contracted with experts such as Dr. James Austin (JFA Associates) (pdf) to conduct validation research on the LSI-R, and Dr. David Simourd (ACES, Inc.) (pdf) to provide staff with ongoing LSI-R training on appropriate use of the assessment. The Board also uses the Static 99 to assess the risk of sexual reoffending and has received training from experts such as Dr. R. Karl Hanson (Canada Public Safety) (pdf) on appropriate use.
More recently, the Board instituted the use of an Offender Violent Risk Typology tool to create classifications for propensity for violence with the assistance of Dr. John Goldkamp (Temple University). (pdf) The Board is looking to improve in this area as it is currently contracting with Dr. Richard Berk (University of Pennsylvania) (pdf) to create a “violence forecasting model.” 

Enhance Intrinsic Motivation

Research has demonstrated that lasting change is more likely only if the subject of the change has an internal desire to do so. External factors, such as threats of incarceration, are much more likely to have short term effects. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a style of communication that has been proven effective at enhancing intrinsic motivation and moving offenders through the various stages of change. The Board has contracted with Michael Clark, MSW (Center for Strength-Based Strategies) (pdf) to train staff on utilizing this skill. Additionally, Mr. Clark’s company has trained a number of Board staff  to train others on Motivational Interviewing.

Target Interventions

This principle is comprised of five subcategories:  Risk, Need, Responsivity, Dosage, and Treatment. Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) is the backbone of EBP. The Risk Principle states that resources should be targeted to higher risk offenders. Correctional agencies should focus their finite resources on the offender group that is most likely to present a risk to society. By utilizing the LSI-R to determine risk and subsequently basing supervision levels on the LSI-R score, the Board adheres to this principle.
The Need Principle states that interventions should target identified criminogenic needs. The relationship between correctly targeting criminogenic needs and reduced recidivism is among the strongest found in social science research. The Board accomplishes this by incorporating the results of the LSI-R into offender case plans. Policy requires that case plans be reviewed and progress in each criminogenic deficiency be addressed on an annual basis.
The Responsivity Principle states that treatment interventions be delivered in a manner to which the offender is most likely to be responsive. This includes using cognitive-behavioral programming in general, and specifically matching interventions to the offender’s personality traits, gender, learning style, motivation, culture, etc.
Dosage is closely related to the Risk Principle in that agencies should assure that supervision and treatment are commensurate to an offender’s level of risk/need, and treatment is closely related to the Responsivity Principle in that treatment interventions must be targeted, timely, and delivered with fidelity.

Train for Skills with Directed Practice

Many parolees lack the skills needed to live law abiding lifestyles. Cognitive behavioral programming (pdf) has been proven to be an effective method of training people how to make changes that are lasting. Cognitive behavioral treatment is based on the premise that thoughts, attitudes and beliefs strongly influence how one acts. Accordingly, training offenders on alternatives to criminal/anti-social thinking, attitudes, and beliefs and practicing pro-social responses can reduce the likelihood of criminal behavior. The Board contracted with the National Curriculum and Training Institute to have staff trained on delivering cognitive behavioral groups. Cognitive life skills, violence prevention, anger management, and drug/alcohol groups are offered by Board staff in all 10 districts.

Increase Rewards

Research on social learning theory has shown that rewards are more effective than punishments in shaping behavior. In fact, issuing four rewards to every punishment is the optimum balance for shaping behavior. Rewards do not have to be tangible—a simple statement of appreciation for improvements made can be quite influential under the right circumstances. One basic—yet important—MI skill (see “Enhance Intrinsic Motivation”) is to use affirmations. Just by utilizing MI, the Board has taken a significant step in satisfying this principle. Field staff are encouraged to look for ways to reward offenders. For example, offenders who display significant, sustained reductions in risk of reoffending may be relieved of certain conditions of parole (IE: reduced reporting). Recently, the legislature authorized the Board to utilize administrative parole. Staff needs two contacts per year for offenders under this supervision. It is reserved for non-violent offenders who have a very low risk of reoffending.

Engage Parolees in Natural Communities

Research shows that interventions can be more effective in the community than in prison. This finding is strengthened when parolees have stronger support in their natural communities. PBPP field supervision is community-based as field agents are generally working in the field 80% of the time. Additionally, Board policy requires agents to make a certain amount of collateral contacts for each parolee. This requirement allows the agents to make meaningful contacts with individuals who comprise the offender’s support system and engage them in the supervision process when possible.

Measure Relevant Practices and Processes/Provide Measurement Feedback

It is important for agencies to measure what they want to see accomplished and share feedback with the staff who are charged with achieving those accomplishments. Research shows that doing so is associated with increased motivation. The Board’s research and development division runs a number of reports on a regular basis to accomplish this.

Parolees are individuals with different needs and challenges

Managing Parole Violators

Most parolees can be safely and effectively managed in the community where they are connected with family and resources. However, parolees who are a serious threat to themselves or others, or who have protracted and escalating violations or have a new criminal arrest, are returned to prison. That said, not all violations amount to serious threats that require return to prison. The Board is committed to managing violations in a manner that enhances public safety, and this calls for a wide range of responses to violative behavior.
Parole agents are committed to correcting minor rule violations when doing so will work toward the goal of successful reentry. When technical violations (violations of parole conditions), are detected, they are addressed with swiftness and certainty. In order to assure that the manner in which technical violations are addressed is proportional and consistent, the Board utilizes a Violation Sanctioning Grid (VSG). (pdf) This tool was developed in collaboration with a national expert on technical parole violator management, Peggy Burke (Center for Effective Public Policy). (pdf)
The Violation Sanctioning Grid (VSG) (pdf) considers an offender’s risk to reoffend, severity of their violative behavior, and type of criminogenic (crime-producing) needs displayed to fashion a recommended response. Some offenders may have a high risk to reoffend and/or their violation might be to such a degree that it is no longer safe to manage them in the community. These offenders are placed in a secure setting.
Many parolees, however, can be redirected by using intermediate sanctions (interventions that do not involve reincarceration) to address violations. These sanctions can be particularly effective at correcting behavior when they address criminogenic needs. This approach has resulted in a 10% reduction in the rate of reincarceration as the result of technical violations over the past four fiscal years. The VSG offers over 31 different recommended interventions to include: increased reporting requirements; imposition of curfew; imposition of electronic monitoring; referral to drug/alcohol treatment; documented job search; and travel restrictions.

Parolee Reentry

Reentry Process

For Parolees and Their Families

Parole Case Example

Parole Dictionary

Veterans Support

Voting Rights