Risk, Reentry and Recidivism Reduction Strategy
In 2011, The Board of Pardons and Paroles committed to utilizing our resources more efficiently and effectively, and focusing on establishing results-based, data-driven, policies, practices, and measures of performance and outcomes. Toward this end, the Board, in partnership with the Department of Correction, has been working closely with the National Parole Resource Center (NPRC) and the Center for Effective Public Policy (CEPP) to prepare for full implementation of a statewide, evidence-based, risk and needs assessment system, the Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS), which, in CT, will be called the Statewide Collaborative Offender Risk Evaluation System (SCORES). The Board of Pardons and Paroles (BOPP), in collaboration with the Department of Correction (DOC) conducted research and comparison of available risk assessment tools and determined the ORAS would best suit the needs and goals of the two departments. At this time, both agencies plan to adopt and implement the system in 2012.
Consistent with the philosophy and goals in other states who have adopted the ORAS, the Board, DOC, and P&CS believe the implementation of SCORES will facilitate enhanced risk and needs assessment, thereby allowing for more efficient and effective use of limited staff and program resources our departments. Specifically, upon intake to the Department of Correction, the SCORES will serve as the basis for developing the Offender Accountability Plan (OAP) which establishes the specific risk-reduction programs offenders should complete while incarcerated.
With enhanced, evidence-based, assessment (i.e., use of SCORES) serving as the basis for the OAP and release decision-making, we expect to realize in the long-term a decrease in crime and recidivism. Offenders will be expected to complete programs deemed appropriate based upon the assessment of their specific criminogenic risk and needs (i.e., factors associated with their likelihood of recidivism). Assessing and targeting the specific criminogenic needs (barring certain overrides, such as Domestic Violence, Sex Offenses) of offenders will allow for more efficient and cost-effective use of program resources and also reduce the likelihood of offenders engaging in future crimes.
Further, offenders with low risk, low needs, and low impact (i.e., non-violent history) could potentially be targeted for early release and completion of programs in the community, thereby reducing prison bed costs. This also allows prison-based programs to be utilized more efficiently for the moderate and higher risk offenders most in need of risk reduction programs. Clearly, there are financial benefits to managing offenders within the community compared to prison. In Connecticut, the daily cost of housing an inmate in prison is $92.35 while the average daily cost of managing offenders under parole supervision is approximately $ 16.93 - approximately 80 % less than the cost of housing an inmate in prison (DOC 2009 Annual Report). With nearly 18, 000 offenders currently incarcerated in the Connecticut Department of Correction, the financial implications of identifying and releasing to parole the low risk / low need / low impact offenders at the earliest release possible are considerable and will result in a decrease in spending on prison beds and programs.
The SCORES will also facilitate enhanced release and stipulation decision-making by the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Specifically, use of the new assessment system will result in more accurate assessment of changes in offender risk and needs and determination of which offenders are most suitable for release and under what conditions if released to parole. Use of an evidence-based assessment tool will also facilitate more efficient identification and use of community supervision resources which should also result in reductions in recidivism as well as costs associated with supervision resources.
The Board of Pardons and Paroles also has been planning implementation of the Structured Parole Decision-Making (SPDM) framework, developed by Dr. Ralph Serin from Carleton University, and sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections. The SPDM framework facilitates systematic, guided, review of criminogenic risk and need factors assessed by the SCORES and Institutional Parole Officer interviews. The SPDM also assists the Board to focus questions during the parole hearing on the most salient factors established through research to be associated with criminal recidivism. The Board members and staff will receive training on the SPDM in 2012 with full implementation also expected in 2012.
Taken together, the Board’s use of the SCORES system and Structured Parole Decision Making framework should result in a decrease in recidivism and costs by ensuring the most appropriate offenders are released after completing the most appropriate program and under the most appropriate conditions – and in all cases – only those programs and stipulations deemed necessary to manage risk using evidence based assessments.