The four steps outlined for developing and using videoconferencing technology (VCT) for parole decision-making are intended to maximize efficiency, protect fairness, maintain integrity, ensure public safety, and motivate positive behavioral change.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic made videoconferencing the new normal for workplace interactions, many parole agencies had implemented or were considering implementing VCT. Although VCT does not replace in-person parole conferences, it can facilitate case-management decisions and advice as situations occur. The first step in implementing VCT is to review policies, statutes, and case law that govern hearing practices for release and revocation to identify barriers to using VCT. Needed revisions should be made to add VCT as an option to facilitate rapid decisions in emergency situations. The second step is to prepare for VCT implementation by assessing and upgrading technology as needed in the central office of the parole agency, prisons, and jails. Agency personnel will need training in revised polices and changes in policies and practices related to the use of VCT. The third step is to develop a communication plan in consultation with legal and public-information staff that will ensure all persons involved in or affected by VCT communications understand the rationale for and techniques of VCT communications. The fourth step is to implement VCT and measure the results of its use. This involves installing quality assurance and accountability structures that include tracking whether VCT is being used as intended and the effects it is having on parole case management. Case studies of two state VCT operations (Missouri and Montana) show two contexts for VCT implementation. 5 resource listings