Colorado Department of Corrections Releases National Institute of Corrections Findings for Electronic Supervision of Parolees, Parole Operations and Offender Management

30 Aug 2013

Denver, CO: The Colorado Department of Corrections will begin immediately to implement changes recommended in two reports from the National Institute of Corrections on parole operations and offender management. CDOC requested the independent reviews after the homicide of Executive Director Tom Clements on March 19, 2013.

On April 8, 2013, the Colorado Department of Corrections requested technical assistance from the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) to conduct an independent and objective analysis of critical areas within institutional and parole operations. The National Institute of Corrections identified the review team.

The NIC team conducted a two-phase review and analysis with the third phase moving forward. Phase I focused on an analysis of current Department policies and practices regarding the use of electronic monitoring technologies and provided recommendations regarding these practices. Phase II of the technical assistance created a system map to identify critical decision points in the offender management process and pinpoint key areas to address. Phase III will provide technical assistance to help the Department implement recommendations identified in the two technical assistance reports.

The NIC conducted the review of electronic monitoring policies and practices and the system mapping exercise over four months and generated two reports for the Department. Each report provides recommendations to improve operations.

DOC Executive Director Rick Raemisch commended the consultants for their work and thorough analysis. “The reports provide valuable information with a clear direction to improve operations and supervision outcomes. The recommendations will allow us to work toward public safety goals more effectively and to focus on fully implementing programs and initiatives that are supported by evidence-based practices.”

“We appreciate the work done by the National Institute of Corrections to review our state’s parole operations and offender management,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said. “We know that most offenders will return to the communities they came from. That is why it’s so important we use these recommendations in a way that helps offenders successfully re-enter society while also keeping our communities safe. We are working with DOC and others to make needed changes recommended by the NIC.”

The reports - Electronic Monitoring Technologies in Colorado and The National Institute of Corrections Technical Assistance Report: system mapping - are available on the Department of Corrections website at www.doc.state.co.us under the News link.

Summary of NIC Recommendations follows...

Overview

• The Colorado Department of Corrections requested technical assistance from the National Institute of Corrections concerning:

   o the method in which electronic monitoring activities were used in parole cases, and 

   o overall offender management operations.

• The two reports focus on opportunities to effectively use tools, approaches, programs, and resources.

• The consultants who provided the technical assistance

   o conducted interviews with Department leaders and managers, 

   o utilized focus group discussions involving approximately 100 departmental staff, and

   o reviewed policies and practices.

Electronic Monitoring

The technical assistance report focused on the use of radio-frequency (RF) electronic monitoring devices. Recommendations include:

• Clarify why electronic supervision is being used and define the purpose, goals and objectives for the use of electronic monitoring:

   o Electronic monitoring is a useful tool, but it is only one component of offender supervision.

   o Establish greater clarity for when and how electronic monitoring is used in certain cases and evaluate how it aids in meeting established objectives.

• Once goals and objectives are established for the use of electronic monitoring, develop supervision criteria.

• Provide parole staff additional training and guidance on electronic monitoring equipment and clear protocols for responding to alerts and notifications.

   o Clarifying the objectives and goals of electronic monitoring as well as the protocols for responding to alerts and notifications will help parole staff target the most appropriate cases for electronic monitoring, properly prioritize alerts and notifications and deploy resources most effectively.

• Explore expanding partnerships with local law enforcement to assist with electronic monitoring violation alerts.

System Mapping/Evidence-based Practices Report

This report addresses operational limitations and highlights a variety of steps the Department can pursue to enhance its use of evidence-based practices and to promote changes in offender thinking and behavior. Recommendations for the Department include:

• Improve opportunities to identify and collect meaningful information on offender criminogenic needs at intake for use in institutional planning and placements.

   o Place more emphasis on identifying relevant factors that may be most related to potential future criminal conduct.

• Create an institutional case plan.

   o No offender-specific case plan currently exists within institutions.

   o Develop a meaningful individualized case plan that follows the offender through incarceration and parole supervision. The plan would be used to determine program placements, inform parole board conditions, and assist the parole supervision staff with case planning.

   o The Department has established a working group to develop an integrated case planning system.

• Reduce the number of institutional moves of offenders.   o Offenders are often moved in order to maximize bed-space. Institutional movement decisions should instead be based on the needs of offenders, including:

       programming needs and status in programs,

       proximity to program completion,

       need for pre-release services, and 

       parole eligibility and hearing status.

• Review institutional programming to ensure it promotes evidence-based practices, and expand programming as appropriate.

   o The Department has a working group in place evaluating institutional programs.

• Consider expanding community services and programs for parolees.

   o Seek to tailor the supervision conditions that are imposed to the specific criminogenic needs of each parolee.

• Provide staff in institutions and parole with more guidance regarding the use of discretion in offender management decisions such as program placement and intensive supervision placement.

• Review the Department’s ongoing strategic planning activities, assess which are most important and pursue only the most critical activities in the coming year.

To view The National Institute of Corrections Technical Assistance Report: system mapping report click here.

To view the Electronic Monitoring Technologies in Colorado report click here.