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Exploring the Moderating Effects of Mental Illness on Parole Release Decisions

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 75 Issue: 1 Dated: June 2011 Pages: 19-26
Jason Matejkowski, Ph.D.
Date Published
June 2011
8 pages
This study examined whether or not the factors that primarily influenced parole release decisions were similar for inmates with and without mental illness.
This study examined whether eight risk factors predict parole release decisions for offenders with and without mental illness similarly or the extent to which mental illness moderates the relationships among the measured risk factors and parole release decision. The study concluded that the lack of any moderating effects of mental illness on the risk factors for recidivism explored in this study suggests that an inmate's mental illness does not play much of a role in parole release decisions. This finding, along with the similar rates of parole release across the two groups (those with and those without mental illness) suggests that inmates with mental illness are not treated differently in the parole release decisionmaking process based upon their psychiatric status. Mental illness in itself has little relation to criminal recidivism; thus, its apparent lack of influence on release decisions could reflect an evidence-based approach in release decisions by the parole board. The current study used data collected in a previous study of the relationship between severe mental illness and parole release decisions. The sampling frame was extracted from the New Jersey State Parole Board's Information System. This database provided a list of all New Jersey inmates who had parole release decisions in 2007. These 11,181 cases were screened in order to identify parolees with and without severe mental illnesses based on the Mental Health Parole Evaluation, which is completed by a trained mental health clinician for every inmate. 4 tables and 41 references