Of the many responsibilities U.S. governors have related to a state’s criminal justice system, one of the more important is appointing members and chairs of paroling authorities. Though paroling authorities vary in size and responsibilities, collectively they are responsible for deciding whether and when to release approximately 125,000 inmates on an annual basis. They also set conditions of release for 430,000 individuals—including those released at paroling authorities’ discretion and those mandatorily released as determined by law—and provide oversight for parolee supervision in the community.
Given the role and influence of paroling authorities in state criminal justice systems, it is critically important that governors exercise their appointing powers with an understanding of the skills and competencies required for such appointments. Further, because parole appointments are for limited terms, it is important for paroling authorities to create an institutional framework for guiding newly appointed members that is based on clear policies and strong decision-making tools.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance is supporting a partnership between the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the National Parole Resource Center (NPRC) to assist U.S. state executives in developing coordinated strategies for strengthening parole policies and practices. Through the Learning Collaborative: Paroling Authorities as Key Partners in Achieving Governors’ Criminal Justice Policy Goals, four competitively selected U.S. state teams will: (1) participate in a two-day summit where they will review the latest research on parole best practices, identify strategies for strengthening their state’s parole system, and explore opportunities for enhancing collaboration between governors’ offices and paroling authorities; (2) receive technical assistance in convening a stakeholder workshop to refine recommendations they develop during the summit; and (3) present those recommendations and a plan of action to their governor.
To kick off this work, the NGA Center and NPRC will be hosting a webinar on May 11, 2017 to examine best practices in paroling and model state initiatives. With insights from the latest research, the webinar is designed to be informative and provide a roadmap to the expanding set of literature and resources for those involved in parole. It is open to a wide audience, even beyond those who elect to apply to participate in the technical assistance to follow. In addition, the webinar will provide information about the learning collaborative for states interested in applying to participate.
Specifically, the webinar will provide:
- An overview of the critical role that paroling authorities can play in advancing U.S. governors’ criminal justice priorities;
- An introduction to evidence-based and promising practices in parole;
- Information on the variety of ways in which U.S. state chief executives can support and benefit from effective paroling authority practices; and
- Information about how U.S. state teams can apply to participate in the learning collaborative, planned for September 2017, which will support state efforts to develop collaborative strategies for strengthening parole in their justice systems.