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Program Evaluation: Kentucky's Parole System

NCJ Number
Date Published
163 pages
This is the final report and recommendations of a study of Kentucky's parole system by the Program Review and Investigations Committee.
Researchers obtained data and information by literature, record, and document reviews; interviews with current and former Parole Board members, applicants for Parole Board membership, Corrections officials and staff, representatives of the judiciary and law enforcement, advocates of victim's rights organizations, and parole officials from other States or professional organizations; and surveys of probation and parole officers. The study found that at each point in the parole decisionmaking process, discretionary decisionmaking authority provides the entities involved with the flexibility necessary to make individual case decisions based on the facts and circumstances of particular cases and to respond to overall goals of the State's criminal justice system. Still, in some cases broad discretion allowed in the parole system is unstructured and unchecked. Also, the degree of accountability to which various entities in the parole system, and the system itself, are held is questionable. The study makes several recommendations intended to add structure to decisionmaking processes and accountability in the system. One such recommendation is that discretionary decisions by the Parole Board in selecting and applying parole release criteria, and by the Corrections Cabinet in establishing postrelease supervisory criteria, be controlled through the use of guidelines and valid risk assessment tools. Another recommendation is that parole release decisions and revocation decisions be documented more fully and that the Corrections Cabinet improve its monitoring and oversight of parole officers' decisions during postrelease supervision. Also recommended is that communication and coordination of postrelease resources by the Parole Board, the Corrections Cabinet, parole officers, and the providers of community-based services be enhanced and that qualifications and nomination and selection procedures for Parole Board members be better defined and documented. 21 tables, 1 chart, and appended supplementary information