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Ca Little Hoover Commission Parole Policies 2003

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State of California

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
November 13, 2003
The Honorable Gray Davis
Governor of California

The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor-elect of California

The Honorable John L. Burton
President pro Tempore of the Senate
and members of the Senate

The Honorable James L. Brulte
Senate Minority Leader

The Honorable Herb J. Wesson, Jr.
Speaker of the Assembly
and members of the Assembly

The Honorable Dave Cox
Assembly Minority Leader

Dear Governor and Members of the Legislature:
The State’s fiscal crisis provides an important opportunity to rethink essential public safety
policies that are not working well. Topping the list should be the State’s practice of releasing
125,000 felons from prison each year with little preparation for life on the outside, and then
returning the vast majority to prison out of concern that they pose a risk to our communities.
California’s prison system consumes nearly $5 billion from the state General Fund each year.
About $1.5 billion of that is spent dealing with felons who have completed their initial prison
terms. From the perspective of local law enforcement – and an increasing number of civic
leaders – the parole system is not providing $1.5 billion worth of public safety. But it could.
Experts assert that even modest reforms could save hundreds of millions. Prisons can costeffectively prepare inmates for their eventual release. Local governments and community
organizations can be given more responsibility for returning parolees. The State and local
agencies can use smarter tools for dealing with unemployed, uneducated and addicted parolees
who are not making it at home. And the State can make sure that truly dangerous parolees
who commit serious new crimes are returned to prison under new convictions rather than for
violating parole.
These are not new ideas. This Commission and other blue-ribbon panels have advocated for
similar reforms for more than a decade. They would save money, they would save lives, but
they have largely been ignored. Why?
The reforms detailed in this report would direct state and local agencies to fashion a cohesive
system of state, county and community agencies, focused on making the best use of existing
resources to reduce crime, violence and drug abuse. That should be the common goal.
Many of the recommendations, such as the expansion of community-based halfway houses,
draw heavily from proven practices in other states, or isolated pockets of innovation within
California. All of the recommendations are based on evidence of success, not ideology. And if
they were faithfully implemented, with sound management and meaningful oversight,
California’s correctional system would provide the same value as those in other states.
The State should either make fundamental changes to improve the correctional system and public
safety, or explain to taxpayers and victims why it will not.
As it stands, California’s policies for returning inmates to their communities are very different
than what is done in other states. Forty-eight other states do a better job of getting parolees

from the prison rolls to tax rolls. In general, they rely more on education, job training and drug
treatment to keep parolees from coming back to prison simply because they are homeless,
unemployed and abusing alcohol and drugs.
They do a better job of rallying community resources to provide the assistance that state
correctional agencies cannot provide. And they intervene with parole violators in a variety of
less costly and more effective ways than returning them to a prison, where little will be done to
prepare them for their re-release.
The enormous gap between how California’s correctional system works and what communities
need the correctional system to do imposes tremendous costs. The demand on public services
and the pressure on public budgets are increased. And the quality of life – measured by our
personal safety and the well-being of our neighbors – is diminished. This is a fixable problem
that needs to be fixed.
The Budget Act of 2003-04 does include some long-considered initiatives to prepare inmates for
their release and help them with the transition home. But those measures must be considered
first steps toward a fundamental rethinking of how the correctional system protects the public.
This year’s reforms are an important recognition that prisons must do something more than
punish. But these initiatives need good management. They need to be supported by evidencebased practices, monitored using modern information technologies, and held accountable by
state and community interests. If California does not institutionalize these changes, these
programs will gradually lose political and financial support and will ultimately fail.
The State should learn from the experience with prison-based drug treatment. The treatment
program was created after a successful pilot project demonstrated how treatment paid for itself
several times over in reduced prison costs. But without adequate and independent oversight
and supportive management, the pilot was not faithfully replicated, was not institutionally
supported, and its expansion has been slowed.
The same can be said for the Preventing Parolee Crime Program. This initiative also was
inspired by a few good ideas and launched in a flurry of concern. But nearly a decade later,
the programs are underdeveloped and the evaluation has not been released that would let
policy-makers know – during a severe budget crisis – whether these programs should be
expanded or eliminated.
The Commission understands the politics of public safety. But the policies of public safety
should be predicated on a shared and factual understanding of current practices and what
could be done to reduce crime, violence and drug and alcohol abuse.
Clearly, prisons protect the public by isolating felons from future victims. But that tool is the
most expensive one in the correctional continuum. And since most inmates are eventually
released, incapacitation alone is only effective as long as felons are locked up.
The first recommendation in this report is to create the means for assessing the performance of
the correctional system and parole in particular. The State should rely on the Board of
Corrections – an existing panel of state and local officials – to monitor and report on the efforts
of individual prisons and their outcomes. The system’s performance should be measured by
the fate of the 345 newly paroled felons who every day step off buses onto downtown sidewalks
throughout California. Policy choices based on that outcome will be truly tough on crime.

Back to the Community:
Safe & Sound Parole Policies

November 2003

Table of Contents
Executive Summary.....................................................................................................................i
Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 1
Background ................................................................................................................................. 5
Using the Evidence..................................................................................................................27
The Growing Evidence About What Works.............................................................................27
"One-Size-Fits-All" is Costly ....................................................................................................28
Offender Information is Widely Used - Elsewhere ..................................................................31
An Antiquated Data System.....................................................................................................31
Information is Knowledge.........................................................................................................35
Advancing the Development and Use of Data ........................................................................37

Before They Come Home.......................................................................................................39
A Focus on Punishment...........................................................................................................39
A Culture of Punishment Thwarts Effective Programming .....................................................40
Changing the Prison Culture....................................................................................................46
Making the Most of Available Resources ................................................................................49

Back to the Community ..........................................................................................................55
The Purpose of Parole .............................................................................................................55
Parole is "Broken" ....................................................................................................................56
Increasing Community Involvement ........................................................................................59
Giving Communities Responsibility for Parolee Reintegration................................................62

When Parolees Fail ..................................................................................................................67
When Parolees Falter ..............................................................................................................67
Why Revocation is the Response of Choice...........................................................................68
Using Alternative Sanctions .....................................................................................................73
What the Research Shows......................................................................................................74

When New Crimes Are Alleged ............................................................................................77
Parole Revocation....................................................................................................................77
To Prosecute or Not to Prosecute ...........................................................................................78

Conclusion.................................................................................................................................83
Appendices................................................................................................................................85
Appendix A: Little Hoover Commission Public Hearing Witnesses .......................................87
Appendix B: Public Meeting With Local Law Enforcement....................................................89
Appendix C: Advisory Committee Members ..........................................................................91

Notes ...........................................................................................................................................93

Table of Sidebars
California is Out of Sync ...................................................................................................................i
California Prison and Parole Population, Then and Now ................................................................ ii
Immediate Opportunities................................................................................................................. iii
Board of Corrections ........................................................................................................................v
Improve Accountability................................................................................................................... vii
Invest in Cost-effective Drug Treatment Strategies ...................................................................... vii
To Safeguard Communities and Motivate Inmates to Improve Themselves................................viii
Focus on Drug Offenders ................................................................................................................x
Focus on Drug Offenders .............................................................................................................. xii
Thousands of Inmates Cycle Through the System ...................................................................... xiv
How Public Safety Could Be Improved.......................................................................................... xv
What More Do We Need To Know? ................................................................................................2
Violations Triggering Mandatory Reports ......................................................................................10
Impact of Determinate Sentencing Laws on Parole Policy...........................................................14
Youth and Adult Correctional Agency............................................................................................17
Proven Practice: The California Transportation Training Institute ................................................24
Proven Practice: The Supportive Living Program .........................................................................25
Goals for an Integrated Offender Data System.............................................................................31
CDC's Integrated Offender Information System Development Attempts......................................33
Pioneering States: Florida, Georgia and Utah...............................................................................34
How PACTs Could Use Data.........................................................................................................35
Accountability Case Studies: Washington and Oregon.................................................................36
Board of Corrections ......................................................................................................................38
Primary Purpose of Imprisonment.................................................................................................39
Legislation and Court Rulings ........................................................................................................41
What Works ...................................................................................................................................42
Officer's Union Thwarts Efforts to Help Inmates Succeed............................................................43
Education is Rehabilitation.............................................................................................................44
Promising Practices: Ironwood State Prison Community College Program .................................45
Drugs in Prison ..............................................................................................................................46
Faith-based Organizations at San Quentin Prison........................................................................48
Improve Accountability...................................................................................................................51
Invest in Cost-effective Drug Treatment Strategies ......................................................................51
To Safeguard Communities and Motivate Inmates to Improve Themselves................................52

Alternatives and Cost Estimates for Denying Early Release Credit .............................................53
Parole Programs: Problems and Potential ....................................................................................58
Engage Community-based Agencies in Prisoner Re-entry...........................................................60
San Diego Dialogue.......................................................................................................................61
PACT Programs.............................................................................................................................63
Focus on Drug Offenders ..............................................................................................................64
BPT Deputy Commissioner Comments to the Little Hoover Commission....................................69
The Texas Violation Action Grid ....................................................................................................70
Typical "New Generation" Policy Regarding Violations ................................................................72
Graduated, Intermediate Sanctions for Parole Violations .............................................................74
Focus on Drug Offenders ..............................................................................................................75
Parole Revocation versus Criminal Prosecution...........................................................................79
Valdivia v. Davis: Due Process for Parolees.................................................................................80

Table of Charts & Graphs
California's Parole Population 1980-2000 .......................................................................................6
Parole Violators Returned to Prison 1980-2000..............................................................................7
Parolees Returned to Custody, New Crimes and Technical Violations 1980-2000 .......................8
Parole Violators Released from Custody by Principal Charge Category........................................9
Parole Classifications ....................................................................................................................16
Department of Corrections Budget 2002-03..................................................................................18
Prison Programs ............................................................................................................................19
Parole Programs............................................................................................................................22
2003-04 Budget Act - Parole Reforms ..........................................................................................23
Percentage Successful Among Parole Discharges 1999 .............................................................30
Components of the Process ..........................................................................................................71

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Executive Summary

C

alifornia’s parole system is a billion-dollar failure.

As the State built and filled prisons over the last 20 years, the
number of felons who serve their time and are given a bus ticket home
has swelled to 125,000 a year. But the real problem is that a growing
percentage of those 125,000 parolees are unprepared to get a job, steer
clear of drugs and alcohol and find a home. Not surprisingly, before long
most of those parolees are back on a bus to prison.
There are four fundamental problems:
1. The time in prison is not being used to prepare inmates for their
eventual release.
2. Available resources – particularly those in communities – are not
being used to help parolees who with some assistance could get a job
and stay out of trouble.
3. And when inmates do get into trouble, the vast majority of them go
back to prison – even if drug treatment, short jail stays or some other
intervention would cost less and do more to help them straighten up.
4. Thousands of times each year, parole revocation is used in lieu of
prosecution for parolees who are suspected of committing new
serious crimes.
Parolees are a challenge for all states. But California’s parole policies are
simply out of sync with the rest of the nation. California puts a greater
percentage of felons on parole. The State offers little assistance to
parolees. And then it sends parolees back to
prison for violations that in other states would
California is Out of Sync
land a parolee in drug treatment, work furlough
California puts more offenders on parole:
or some other “intermediate” sanction.
California:
95%
National Average
82%
The numbers bear that out: Nationally one in
More prison commitments are returning
three parolees end up back in prison before
parolees:
completing parole. In California two out of three
California:
67%
National
Average
35%
parolees return to prison. Criminologists say
California’s parolees are no more dangerous
Fewer parolees successfully complete
than those in others states. Rather California
parole:
California:
21%
has created a revolving door that does not
National Average
42%
adequately distinguish between parolees who
Sources: Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute,
should be able to make it on the outside, and
Written testimony to the Commission, February 27,
those who should go back to prison for a longer
2003. Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay
College of Criminal Justice, New York. Written
period of time.
testimony to the Commission, January 23, 2003.

i

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
California is not even doing as well on this score as it once did.
Returning prisoners are less prepared than ever before to get a job, stay
sober and successfully reunite with family and community.1
In 1980, about one in four parolees ended up back in prison. And now,
with two out of three coming back, prisons are overcrowded and
constantly churning with inmates – frustrating the efforts that do exist to
teach and counsel inmates, as well as punish them.
Also caught up in this recycling of parole violators are scores of serious
criminals, who are blamed but never formally prosecuted for murder,
assault and rape. Without another trial – or the long sentences they
would receive – many of these criminals are imprisoned for a few months,
and then given another bus ticket home.
The bottom line: California’s correctional system costs more than it
should and it does not provide the public safety that it could.
Incarcerating parole violators costs $900 million a year. The State
spends another $465 million on parole, the bulk of which is for parole
agents, who spend much of their time filling out paperwork to send
parolees back to prison. Another $660 million is spent incarcerating
parolees convicted of committing new crimes. 2
Ironically, many of the decisions that have resulted in the status quo
were inspired by the desire to “get tough” on criminals. But if the goal is
to reduce future crime, the evidence is clear that punishment by itself
does not get the job done.

California Prison and Parole
Population, Then and Now
The adult prison population has increased
six-fold:
1980: 24,569
2000:
160,655
The number of parolees released has
increased ten-fold:
1980: 11,759
2000:
126,184
The number of parole violators returned to
prison has increased thirty-fold:
1980: 2,995
2000:
89,363
The percentage of parolees returned to
prison has nearly tripled:
1980: 25%
2000:
71%
Source: Department of Corrections, Historical Trends,
1980-2000. Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban
Institute, Written testimony to the Commission,
February 27, 2003.

One problem is the punishment continues
beyond the prison gate – explicitly by denying
access to food programs and other essentials, or
implicitly by shunning parolees, making it hard
to find a job, or putting community support out
of reach.
Reforms should begin with – and be faithfully
guided by – a commitment to align policies,
programs and resources to improving public
safety as defined by both the incapacitation of
serious
criminals,
and
the
successful
reintegration of offenders who serve their time
and come back home.
Prisons have excelled at what they have been
asked to do: manage more and more inmates
without escapes or riots. But eventually, nearly

ii

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
all felons are released. Prison time also must be used to help inmates
learn basic skills, kick drug habits, and plan for their release.
Communities also must do more. As the prison system expanded, the
link between state correctional and local law enforcement agencies has
weakened. Frustrated with a parole system they describe as “broken,”
some local law enforcement officials have stepped in to provide the
supervision and assistance that most felons need to go from cellblock to
neighborhood. 3 But all community assets – from community police to
the pulpits – need to help willing parolees obey the law and become selfsufficient. Workforce investment boards, community colleges, adult
schools, alcoholics anonymous, local charities and labor unions all have
a role.
Most importantly, if given more opportunity, inmates must do their part.
This is the point where ideology usually interrupts the debate, because
some people feel felons have wasted all of their opportunities and should
be given no more. Parolees can find a job if they want, and if they don’t
we will build another prison.
To be realistic, many parolees have serious problems, pose a significant
risk and will be reincarcerated. But we must assess those risks, and
provide the assistance and incentives for those who have indicated by
their behavior and activities that they want to change. Otherwise most of
the felons will do what they have done before, communities and families
will share in the consequences, and the State’s prison bill will continue
to grow.
In small ways, the reforms described above are
already underway – initiated by local law
enforcement, community leaders and prison
officials who see the shortcomings of a system
that makes life hard for both inmates and
parolees. These pioneers have documented a
better way.
For example, a state-local
partnership in Sacramento has trained and
found truck-driving jobs for 1,000 parolees.
The first reason for improving parole is to make
Californians safer. Given the fiscal crisis, public
leaders also should urgently implement ways to
make better use of existing dollars. But justice
should also be on our minds. After decades of
increasing sentences in response to rising
violence, more Americans are asking for
something in addition to retribution. They want
restitution. A parole system that moves felons

iii

Immediate Opportunities
The Commission identified two immediate
opportunities to cut costs without
jeopardizing public safety:
§

Implement a series of graduated
sanctions for the large percentage of
parole violators returned to prison for
drug use and possession, including more
frequent testing, outpatient treatment
and residential treatment.
Immediate Savings: $151 million

§

Reduce the length of revocation
sentences for certain offenders from an
average of 140 days to 100 days.
Annual Savings: $300 million

Sources: 2003-04 Budget Bill deliberations, staff
analysis of proposed CDC Reforms and Efficiencies,
David Panush, June 6, 2003. Michael P. Jacobson,
Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice,
New York. Testimony to the Commission,
January 23, 2003.

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
from their deserved punishment to responsible community members is
the bridge.
After considerable study, debate and deliberation – and after consulting
with correctional professionals, community leaders, victims and reformed
felons
–
the
Commission
respectfully
offers
the
following
recommendations:

Using the Evidence
Finding 1: The correctional system's focus on punishment alone is not
adequately protecting Californians from the 125,000 inmates released from prison
each year.
While prison is about punishment, the goal of the correctional system
must be that inmates who are released from prison will not commit
another crime. Clearly, many parolees will continue to fail themselves
and their communities. But until the correctional system employs
interventions that have been shown to help parolees become responsible
citizens, the system will continue to fail us.
Evidence is mounting that educational, vocational and drug treatment
programs reduce recidivism, yet only 30 percent of eligible inmates have
access to educational and vocational programs. Even after significant
expansions, few drug abusers receive treatment while in prison.
The Department of Corrections does not have a comprehensive,
integrated data system to manage its efforts. Three data systems within
parole alone require offender information to be entered multiple times,
increasing costs and the chances for errors. None of the systems are
integrated with the prison-based data system.
Unlike hundreds of other correctional organizations in the United States,
the California Department of Corrections (CDC) has not developed and
used risk assessments of individual offenders to target available
resources for supervision and services to the most high-risk parolees.
Eighty percent of parolees are supervised on regular caseloads and
typically have fewer than two 15-minute face-to-face contacts with a
parole agent each month.4
Many other states respond to parole violators with a range of sanctions
that are less costly and more effective than prison. But California has
not developed to any meaningful extent a range of interventions for
parole violators and still resorts to the most expensive response – prison.

iv

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The State returns 70 percent of parolees to prison within 18 months of
their release – at an annual cost of $900 million for incarceration alone.5
Research shows that it is important to respond to parole violations, but
that the length of the revocation sentence does not influence whether the
parolee will commit another crime when released again. Nevertheless,
from 1990 to 1999 the State increased the length of time parole violators
spent in prison by 23 percent, with the largest proportional increases
imposed for the least serious violations.6
The correctional system should be driven by the best available evidence
to protect public safety, reduce the enormous costs associated with
parole failures, and improve the ability of parolees to reintegrate.

Recommendation 1: To protect the public, the correctional system must use
proven strategies to prepare inmates for release, supervise and assist parolees in
California communities, and intervene when parolees fail. The State should
create the means to improve the performance of the correctional system by
changing laws, budgets and programs to increase success among parolees.
Specifically, the State should:
q Use evidence to guide policy reforms.
The Board of Corrections should routinely
evaluate the outcomes of the correctional
system and identify evidence-based ways to
improve those outcomes, beginning with the
use of offender risk and needs assessments
and performance measures.
It should
annually assess the risks and needs of
offenders in prison and on parole, evaluate
the programs that offenders received to
reduce future crime, and compare the
outcomes for offenders in California with
offenders in other states.
The board
annually should recommend statutory
changes, budget priorities and resource
allocations that would improve public safety.

Board of Corrections
The Board of Corrections – comprised of
state and local correctional officials and
members of the public – is well suited to
assume these responsibilities and could do
so without growing the bureaucracy. The
board is charged with assisting county
sheriffs, chief probation officers, other local
officials and community-based service
providers to improve the delivery of
correctional programs. That function could
be enhanced by giving the board the
responsibility and authority for improving
outcomes for offenders across the
correctional continuum – from jails to prison
and back to the community.

q Use evidence to guide decision-making. Offender information
should be used to guide decision-making at every point in the
correctional continuum. Specifically:
ü Offender risk and needs assessments should be used to better
allocate resources including prison education, job training and
drug treatment programs, parole supervision and assistance
resources, and to make parole revocation decisions.
ü County sheriffs and other agencies should receive assessments in
advance of an inmate’s release, as well as documentation of what

v

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

ü

programs and services the inmate received in prison, how the
services related to the inmate’s assessment and the outcomes.
Releasing prisoners should receive their assessments to assist in
their reintegration and help hold them accountable for pursuing
the services that could reduce their chances of re-offending.

q Automate offender information.
The State should make the
automation of offender files and integration of the Department of
Corrections data systems a priority. Efficiencies that result from
automation and integration and savings from reforms suggested in
the following recommendations could offset the costs.

Before They Come Home
Finding 2: The State’s failure to use prison time to prepare offenders for release
jeopardizes public safety and squanders public resources.
More than 95 percent of all inmates will eventually be released and
returned to their community.7
This reality is ignored by correctional
policies that rely exclusively on incapacitation. The singular focus on
punishment guarantees that upon release most offenders will be as ill
equipped to be productive, law-abiding citizens as the day they entered
prison.
Offenders are responsible for their actions, but public officials should be,
as well. Only 35 to 40 percent of eligible inmates have access to literacy
programs, despite evidence that re-arrest, re-conviction and reincarceration rates are lower for offenders who participate in educational
programs. More than three-quarters of prisoners have drug and alcohol
problems, but just 6 percent participate in a substance abuse program in
any given year.8 Re-entry programs, designed to teach job search
techniques and how to apply for benefits, identification cards and drivers
licenses are voluntary and only serve about 30 percent of all inmates.9
Not only do these interventions reduce crime, they save money. In the
case of educational programs, for every dollar spent on education more
than two dollars are saved on food and cell space alone.10
Assuming they are not responsible for inmates after release, many prison
administrators have resisted or undermined efforts to develop and
expand programs.11 When released, 10 percent of parolees are homeless,
half are illiterate, 70 to 80 percent are unemployed and as many as
80 percent abuse drugs. 12 When they return to prison, most parole
violators spend most of their time in “reception centers” where there are
even fewer opportunities to prepare for their re-release.

vi

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Drugs and alcohol continue to be available in prisons despite some
efforts to control them. There should be a zero tolerance policy of drugs
in prison, as recommended by the Commission in 1998. 13

Recommendation 2: To increase public safety, state and local correctional
agencies, community organizations and the inmates themselves should prepare
for the predictable release of inmates from prison.
q To focus prisons on preparing inmates, wardens should develop

and implement comprehensive preparation programs.
should:
ü
ü

ü

ü

They

Identify state and local resources available for prerelease
programs.
Develop a strategy for expanding and
operating programs based on a risk and
Improve Accountability
needs assessments of inmates, and
submit those plans to the Governor and
If the success of wardens was linked with the
success of inmates exiting their prisons, the
Legislature.
quantity and quality of programs would be
Annually report on the participation of
improved. Wardens should be appointed to
inmates in education, work and
fixed, four-year terms with reappointment
treatment programs and the employment
and reconfirmation by the Senate determined
by an evaluation of their success, based on
and re-arrest rates of parolees.
the safe operation of prisons and outcomes
Provide
information
to
local
law
related to inmate preparation.
enforcement
on
the
programming
provided to individual inmates prior to
their release.

q To motivate inmates to prepare for parole, the State should
restructure “good time” credits and provide other incentives.
Among them:
ü
ü

ü
ü

Link credits toward early release to completion of education and
job training programs, as well as plans for a job and housing.
Require inmates to make progress toward educational or drug
treatment goals before becoming eligible
for work assignments.
Invest in Cost-effective Drug
Provide programs and allow inmates to
Treatment Strategies
earn credits in reception centers.
Assignment to drug treatment programs
The State should consider denying the
should be based on a needs and risk
early release of some inmates who have
assessment and be mandatory for the
earned early release credits but are
highest risk inmates. Drug treatment should
deemed unprepared for release, as
be available in conservation camps and
camp inmates with a history of drug abuse
described in the box on the following
should be required to participate in drug
page.
The Commission recommends
treatment.
starting with parole violators who have
been returned to custody.

vii

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
q To improve the transition of parolees, the State should build

strong partnerships with communities.
should:
ü

ü

ü

Specifically, the State

Fully support re-entry units established in the 2003-04 Budget
Act and partner with local law enforcement and community
providers to link inmates with jobs, housing, drug treatment and
other support prior to their release.
Contract with county sheriffs who are willing to house inmates
during the final months of their sentence and prepare them for
release. The State should provide to the counties funding equal
to the cost of incarceration in prisons. Sheriffs should select the
inmates most amenable to their services, based on a needs and
risk assessment.
Work with communities to establish halfway houses, drug
treatment facilities and other residential settings in appropriate
locations for those parolees who need that support to stay out of
trouble and out of prison.

q To improve outcomes and accountability, the State should
provide correctional officials with technical assistance and
independent evaluation.
ü

The Advisory Committee on Correctional Education should be
fortified, expanded and given specific responsibility for advising
state and local correctional administrators on ways to expand the
quantity and quality of educational, vocational and treatment
programs. The committee could report its recommendations for
improvements on a prison-by-prison basis to the department
director, agency secretary, Legislature and Governor.

ü The Inspector General should annually report on the progress of
individual prisons and the department overall in expanding and
effectively managing educational, vocational, prerelease and
treatment programs.

To Safeguard Communities and Motivate Inmates
to Improve Themselves
Some inmates may do a better job of preparing themselves for release if the consequences for failure to
do so were greater. The State could create a process to deny early release credits to some inmates as
a way to motivate them to prepare for their return to the community. Among the alternatives:
Alternative I: The Board of Prison Terms could deny the early release of all inmates who have earned
early release credits but are deemed by the board to be unprepared for release.
Alternative II: The Board of Prison Terms could deny the early release of all first release inmates (not
parole violators) who have earned early release credits but are deemed by the board to be unprepared
for release.
Alternative III: After implementing a risk assessment system and expanding in-prison programs and
community-based sanctions for parole violators, the Board of Prison Terms could deny the early release
of all incarcerated parole violators who the board deems unprepared for release.
For a detailed discussion of these alternatives and estimates of the costs to implement them, see p.53.

viii

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Back to the Community
Finding 3: The goals for parole – public safety and successful reintegration – are
undermined by the way the State supervises and assists parolees and the lack of
community involvement in re-entry.
Parole is the process of supervision and assistance intended to protect
communities and help parolees get jobs, find homes and stay clean and
out of trouble. Some parolees present greater risks to public safety than
others. But the State does not adequately target supervision and
assistance to increase the number of parolees who successfully
transition home.
The department has programs intended to help parolees reintegrate. But
they are not available in every parole region, are not integrated and are
not targeted to parolees who need them the most or who are most likely
to benefit from them. Community-based services, while plentiful in
many areas, are not geared to parolees, and are sometimes denied to
parolees, at great costs to the community and the State.
Moreover, the Department of Corrections' focus on punishment rather
than public safety influences its parole practices, contributing to an
emphasis on enforcement and high revocation rates. Only 21 percent of
parolees complete their parole term without being returned to prison for
some period of time or absconding.14

Recommendation 3: To maximize public safety, communities must assume
greater responsibility for reintegrating parolees, and the State should provide the
leadership and funding to make those efforts successful. Specifically, the State
should:
q Start with pioneering counties. The Governor and Legislature
should shift resources, responsibility and accountability for parolee
reintegration to communities. The State should identify three or four
communities with the desire and capacity to be the first ones to
assume responsibility for parolee reintegration. The State should
develop agreements and provide funding for sheriffs in those
counties, in partnership with community agencies, to provide
supervision, services and sanctions for parolees. Funding should be
equal to the cost of state-administered activities. Within three to five
years all counties should assume responsibility for returning
offenders.

q Manage a transition plan. The Youth and Adult Correctional Agency
should manage the transition plan by identifying and helping to
overcome barriers to operating effective re-entry programs and
providing training, technical assistance and evaluation.

ix

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
q Identify and report outcomes. The Youth and Adult Correctional
Agency and the Department of Corrections, in cooperation with their
community partners, should establish performance measures for
reintegrating parolees and annually report progress to the Governor,
Legislature and county boards of supervisors.

q Reduce barriers.

The State should review all inappropriate legal
barriers to reintegration and remove them. It should seek a federal
waiver to remove punishments that thwart reintegration such as the
ban on public assistance and food stamps for some offenders,
including low-level drug offenders.
The State should consider
providing parole officials with absolute immunity for the actions of
parolees under their supervision, as it does judges and prosecutors.

q Develop promising models. The State should encourage counties
to establish re-entry courts when they assume responsibility for
parolee reintegration. The State should fully develop Parole and
Correction Team programs by dedicating staff to coordinate and
sustain community participation and follow-up activities with
parolees. The department should pursue resources for evaluations,
including foundations and universities.

To best use available resources and motivate parolees to
reintegrate, the State and its community partners should ensure that
parole embodies:
q Supervision and services based on distinctions among parolees.
Supervision and services should be based on individual risk and
needs assessments. Parole conditions should be linked to these
assessments and show evidence of reduced recidivism.

q Supervision and services that are “front loaded.” Supervision and
services for parolees should be targeted and intense in the first
critical months following release and reduced later when the risk of
recidivism is lower.

q Rewards for positive behavior. Some parolees who meet specific

Focus on Drug Offenders
The State, in coordination with communities,
should expand the availability of aftercare
treatment for parolees who participated in
drug treatment while in prison. Additionally,
the State should provide fiscal incentives to
counties to house and treat parolees who are
substance abusers. The preliminary success
of Proposition 36 shows the potential of drug
treatment to reduce the demand on prisons
and address addiction among offenders.

criteria
for
successful
reintegration,
like
maintaining employment, housing and remaining
violation free for a period of time, should be
released early from parole or provided other
rewards like reduced reporting requirements.

q Restorative practices. Parole should provide
opportunities for parolees to pay their victims and
communities back for the harm they caused,
including, paying for a portion of the cost of their
supervision, and using community service as a
condition of parole and as a sanction for parole
violations.

x

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

When Parolees Fail
Finding 4: Correctional officials do not intervene in cost-effective ways with
parolees who are not successfully reintegrating. When parole violators are
returned to custody, they are not prepared for their imminent re-release.
Parole officials respond to most parole violations – minor or serious –
with a return to prison, overcrowding prisons and increasing correctional
costs, an expensive and temporary solution to a long-term problem.
In effect, revocation time is used to resume the punishment of offenders,
rather than to promote their reintegration. The bulk of many revocation
sentences are served in reception centers where offenders are ineligible
for programs. The system does not address the reasons for their failure
or provide services to prepare them for release.
The experience of other states has shown that intermediate sanctions
can reduce prison commitments, keep communities safe, foster offender
rehabilitation, and gain public support. Alternative sanctions for parole
violators can include intensive supervision, substance abuse treatment,
day reporting, house arrest, electronic monitoring and community
incarceration.
Statistically, it is difficult to assess how much crime is committed by
parolees. Because it places more people on parole, California’s rates may
be higher than those in other states. In Oakland, for example, where a
larger percentage of the population is on parole, officials attribute
50 percent of the crime to parolees.15 But multi-state studies show that
only a small proportion – 3 to 5 percent – of crimes are committed by
ex-prisoners.
Whatever their contribution to the overall crime rate, parolees represent
an identifiable group of offenders that can be assessed based on their
likelihood of committing further crimes and targeted with cost-effective
prevention, intervention and enforcement strategies.
Some parolees commit serious crimes. Many others are deemed
responsible for behaviors that would not earn them a prison sentence if
they were not on parole. It is estimated that California could save
$50.4 million in 2003-04 and $100.8 million in 2004-05 by using
sanctions other than prison, particularly for non-criminal and low-level
drug-related parole violations.16

xi

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
Recommendation 4: The State should make better use of the resources currently
spent re-incarcerating parole violators – and provide more public safety – by
developing a range of interventions for failing parolees. Specifically, the State
should:
q Use structured decision-making. The State should establish clear,
transparent and binding guidelines for parole revocation to provide
consistency and accountability in the revocation process. This could
be the first step in implementing a broader range of responses that
are cost-effective and protect public safety.

q Use alternative sanctions. To promote public safety and parolee
reintegration, the State, in cooperation with police chiefs and sheriffs,
should develop a range of sanctions to be used as alternatives to
returning parole violators to prison. A system of graduated sanctions
would include:
ü Community-based sanctions for “technical” violations.
ü Limits on which serious violations warrant a return to prison.
ü Lower revocation sentences based on offender risk assessments.
ü Short-term incarceration in community correctional facilities.

Focus on Drug Offenders
Jeremy Travis’ analysis for the Commission
found that drug use and drug possession
account for nearly one third of all
administrative criminal returns to prison. The
State could make better use of existing
resources – and get better outcomes – if it
used different strategies, including treatment,
to respond to parolee drug use.

q Focus revocation time on reintegration.
Parole violators who are returned to prison
should be processed and housed separately
from other inmates.
They should receive
services such as drug treatment, life skills and
employment preparation to address the factors
that contributed to their parole failure.
Interventions should be targeted using risk
assessments.

When New Crimes Are Alleged
Finding 5: The parole revocation process is used too frequently to respond to
new and serious criminal behavior by parolees.
Thousands of inmates cycle in and out of prisons under the guise of
parole revocations, when in fact parole officials believe they are
responsible for new and serious crimes.
In 2000, more than
47,000 parolees were released from custody after serving revocation
sentences for criminal actions. Some of the alleged crimes were serious,
including 78 homicides, 524 robberies and 384 rapes and sexual
assaults. These serious violators served on average a little more than
three months more in prison than those revoked for “technical” violations
of parole and their punishments were not nearly what they would have
been if successfully prosecuted for the new crime.17

xii

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
County district attorneys decide whether or not to prosecute alleged
criminal behavior, and there is little public knowledge or public scrutiny
of the decisions in all but the most high profile cases. As a result, it is
nearly impossible to know if a decision not to prosecute a parolee
resulted from too little evidence, not enough investigation, or simply
because parole revocation is an easy alternative to a potentially costly
and uncertain criminal process.
Using revocation of parole in lieu of prosecution of serious crimes
undermines public safety and criminal justice. Using parole revocation –
with its lower standards of proof – also may result in the return to prison
of innocent parolees. Either way, it regularly returns serious and violent
offenders to communities far sooner than if they had been prosecuted
and found guilty.
The current practice provides some public safety benefits, and many
individual decisions may have been the best among poor choices. But
criminal justice officials should embrace a detailed review of these
practices.

Recommendation 5: To ensure public safety and fairness, the State should
scrutinize its responses to parolees charged with new, serious crimes.
Specifically the State should :
q Review practices and recommend reforms. The Attorney General
should review how district attorneys handle serious crimes by
parolees and make recommendations for reforms.

q Impose accountability.

When a parolee is suspected of a new,
serious crime, district attorneys should be required to solicit input
from parole officials and local law enforcement before determining not
to file charges. District attorneys, when determining not to prosecute
a parolee for a serious alleged criminal activity, should be required to
report that information and the reason why to the Attorney General,
the local law enforcement agency and parole officials. The Attorney
General should annually report the information to the Governor and
Legislature, by county.

q Ensure due process protections.

Depending on changes
ultimately put in place by the court to improve due process
protections for parolees, the Legislature should review the plan and
determine what statutory, regulatory and budgetary reforms should
be enacted to ensure that it is adequately implemented.

In conclusion, the State recycles nearly 100,000 parolees through the
prison system each year, as depicted in the chart on the following page.
Following this illustration of the current system, is a chart summarizing
how the Commission's recommendations would systemically solve the
State's problems with the parole system.

xiii

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

Thousands of Inmates Cycle Through the System
The chart below shows the flow of inmates through the system in 2001.
New
admissions
from court:
37,932

157,142 inmates
incarcerated
While in prison:
§ Less than one-third receive academic
or vocational education.
§ Less than 6 percent in need of drug
treatment receive it.
§ Two-thirds receive no re-entry
planning prior to release.

125,991 inmates
released to parole

An
estimated
20 percent
successfully
complete
parole.

While on parole:
§ Less than one in 10 parolees access
services available through a police
and corrections team program.
§ About 6 percent participate in an
employment program.
§ 85 percent are drug addicted.
§ 10 percent are homeless.
§ Half are illiterate, but only 10 percent
take advantage of a literacy lab.
§ Within 18 months, 70 percent will
violate the conditions of parole or
commit a new crime.

Parole
violators:
74,444

Parole
violators
with a
new
term:
14,528

Parole violations
Parole is revoked when parolees violate
the conditions of their release or engage
in criminal behavior.
Most parole violators will return to prison,
some with new terms. About 25 percent
will remain in the community on parole
supervision.

Treatment,
Home
Monitoring,
Curfews

88,972
returned to
prison

Sources: CDC, "Historical Trends 1981-2001." Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New
York, Written Testimony to the Commission, January 23, 2003.

xiv

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

How Public Safety Could Be Improved
By improving the success of parolees, the State could
reduce crime and save money as depicted below.
The Commission
Recommends
Using the Evidence
To protect the public, the
correctional system must use
proven strategies to prepare
inmates for release, supervise
and assist parolees in California
communities, and intervene
when parolees fail. The State
should create the means to
improve the performance of the
correctional system by changing
laws, budgets and programs to
increase success among parolees.

Fewer non-serious,
non-violent parolees would
cycle through the prisons
While in prison:
§ Partner with community agencies to
expand resources.
§ Expand drug treatment.
§ Establish prerelease units.
§ House inmates nearing parole
release in residential halfway houses
or drug treatment facilities.
§ Provide re-entry planning for all.

Before They Come Home
To increase public safety, state
and local correctional agencies,
community organizations and the
inmates themselves should
prepare for the predictable
release of inmates from prison.

Back to the Community
To maximize public safety,
communities must assume
greater responsibility for
reintegrating parolees, and the
State should provide the
leadership and funding to make
those efforts successful.

Inmates better prepared
for parole

Prosecute
criminal
violators

Revoke
serious
parole
violators

While on parole:
§ Target the first critical months with
services and supervision.
§ Base services and supervision levels
on parolee risks and needs.
§ Reward positive behavior.
§ Pay restitution to victims and the
community.
§ Identify and report outcomes.

§

When Parolees Fail
The State should make better
use of the resources currently
spent re-incarcerating parole
violators – and provide more
public safety – by developing a
range of interventions for failing
parolees.

When New Crimes Are Alleged
To ensure public safety and
fairness, the State should
scrutinize its responses to
parolees charged with new,

Increase
successful
reintegration

Employment,
Education,
Family
Reunification

serious crimes.
xv

Increase alternative sanctions for nonserious, non-violent parole violators

Drug
Treatment
Options

Community
Correctional
Facilities

Home
Monitoring,
Curfews

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

xvi

I NTRODUCTION

Introduction

T

he Commission initiated this study because of recent data showing
that California has the highest parole revocation rate in the nation.
National experts are now referring to California’s parole policy as
an “experiment” that is diminishing the public safety benefits of a
correctional system, while consuming significant fiscal resources.18
From two previous reviews of state correctional policies, the Commission
recognized from the beginning that improvements to the parole system
could save money in the near term and improve the quality of life for
nearly all Californians.
As correctional costs spiraled upwards, so have costs for other programs
impacted by the failure or success of the correctional system. During the
past decade, the Commission has analyzed foster care, mental health,
alcohol and drug addiction, and youth crime and violence.
These issues are interrelated. More children are in foster care because of
the criminal behavior – and drug and alcohol abuse, in particular – of
their parents. Mental illness is common among criminal offenders. And
while more is being done to treat offenders, many inmates still end up in
jails and prisons because of inadequate mental health treatment in their
communities. Once in prison they may receive court-ordered treatment.
But in many cases, early treatment could have avoided the need for
incarceration.
Alcohol and drug addiction thrives among prisoners and parolees and is
frequently a contributing factor in criminal behavior. In its review of the
State’s alcohol and drug treatment policies, the Commission found that
crime and correctional budgets could be reduced if quality treatment
programs were expanded.
The Commission examined the State's parole policies by conducting two
public hearings. It received testimony from top criminal justice experts,
state
correctional
leaders,
victim's
rights
advocates,
union
representatives, community activists and local law enforcement officials.
A panel of leaders from Oakland, including a state Senator, the mayor, a
city councilman, the chief of police, a parole administrator and a
community liaison testified on the devastation that parole policies impose
on California's communities. They also identified the promise and
potential of local efforts to successfully reintegrate parolees into the
community. The witnesses are listed in Appendix A.

1

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
The Commission held a roundtable discussion with local law
enforcement officials from throughout the state to discuss challenges and
solutions to reduce parolee crime and increase successful parolee
re-integration. These law enforcement officials are listed in Appendix B.
The Commission convened an advisory committee comprised of a diverse
group of stakeholders impacted by parole policies.
The advisory
committee met three times. Participants in the advisory committee are
listed in Appendix C.
To better understand the prison and parole system, the Commission
toured the Deuel Vocational Institution where many Northern California
parolees initially are sent when their parole is revoked. The Commission
also toured San Quentin State Prison to learn more about community
participation in prison programs. San Quentin Warden Jeanne Woodford
shared her expertise and experience in a meeting with Commissioners.

What More Do We Need to Know?
In 1990 the Blue Ribbon Commission on Inmate Population Management, established by the
Legislature to make recommendations on prison overcrowding and escalating costs, concluded that
parole violators returning to prison were a significant contributing factor to burgeoning prison
populations. Between 1978 and 1988, parole violators returned to prison had increased from 1,011 to
34,014. CDC projected that without policy changes there would be more than 83,000 parole violators
returned to prison by 1994. The Blue Ribbon Commission recommended the following:
ü
ü
ü
ü
ü

Guidelines to assist in parole revocation decisions.
Parole plans and intensive prerelease programs for releasing inmates.
A range of sanctions as alternatives to re-incarceration of parole violators.
More balance between the law enforcement and assistance functions of parole agents.
Expanded community detention capacity including fiscal incentives for counties to set aside jail
space to house and prepare parole violators.

The Little Hoover Commission in 1994 recommended improving the parole system by instituting
comprehensive prerelease programs at all prisons, improving the effectiveness and management of
prison work programs, and restructuring educational programs.
In its 1998 report, the Commission recommended comprehensive reforms to stop the costly recycling
through prisons of low-level parole violators. Among its recommendations were community-based
sanctions, expanded drug courts, assessments to determine what kinds of treatment and educational
opportunities would benefit individual offenders, and expanded parolee assistance programs.
Absent efforts to reverse course, the projections made a decade ago have come true. California now
returns about 90,000 parole violators to custody annually.
As the parole population grows so does crime in those communities with the highest concentrations of
parolees.
In contrast, other states have proactively worked to reduce recidivism and use resources wisely.
Promising practices have become proven practices and are being embraced by states and
communities who understand the consequences of failing to do so.
California leaders should learn from these examples, implement reforms across the correctional
continuum based on evidence of what works and evaluate all programs based on outcomes.

2

I NTRODUCTION
The Commission participated in a Police and Corrections Team (PACT)
meeting in Sacramento that is held weekly for new parolees.
Commission staff visited community-based parolee program providers,
including a literacy lab, a drug treatment facility, a substance abuse
education program and a residential multi-service center.
The study examines evidence-based decision-making, evaluates
programs and services for inmates before and after they are released,
reviews revocation policies and responses to parole violations and
analyzes the prosecution of parolee crime.
The study provides recommendations that, if implemented, could reduce
crime, cut costs and hopefully turn criminal offenders into responsible
citizens.
This introduction is followed by a background, which details the scope of
the problem and identifies the State's current programs and parole
trends.
The background is followed by five findings and
recommendations.
All written testimony submitted electronically for each of the two
hearings and the executive summary and complete report are available
online at the Commission Web site, http://www.lhc.ca.gov/lhc.html.

3

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

4

BACKGROUND

Background

C

alifornia's parole policies are unlike those in any other state.
Approximately 125,000 inmates will be released on parole from
California prisons this year. Most parolees return to California's
communities with limited education and job skills. They have little or no
preparation for a life without crime. They often have no family to return
to and no place to call home. Many suffer from drug addiction, mental
illness and infectious diseases. Within a matter of months, most will
commit another crime or violate a condition of their parole and return to
prison.
Once in custody again, parole violators will serve an average of five
months, whether they were returned to custody because they failed to
meet with their parole agent, they used drugs or even if they were blamed
for a violent crime. While serving a revocation sentence, parole violators
have limited access to educational, vocational or substance abuse
treatment programs. Upon completing the revocation sentence, they will
return once again to the streets to finish their parole supervision time –
no healthier, no more educated, no more employable than when they
returned to prison.
This constant recycling of parolees through prison squanders limited
public resources and jeopardizes the safety of all Californians.

The California Problem
Incarceration rates have grown dramatically over the past two decades
across the nation. In California, incarceration rates have increased
faster than the national average. Between 1980 and 2000, the state
prison population increased nearly seven-fold, from 24,000 to nearly
160,000, compared to a four-fold increase nationwide.
In 2002,
California had an incarceration rate of 452 per 100,000 population,
compared to the national average of 427 per 100,000 population. When
California and Texas – two states with the largest prison populations and
above-average incarceration rates – are excluded from the calculation,
the national average falls to 398. Or put another way, 34 states have
lower incarceration rates than California.
If California had the same incarceration rate as the rest of the nation,
there would be approximately 9,000 fewer inmates in California prisons.
The cost to house these 9,000 inmates is over $250 million.19
The high incarceration rate also contributes to the size of the parole
population – which translates into significant consequences for

5

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
communities when inmates are not prepared for release, and higher
prison costs when parolees return to custody.
Additionally, California sharply diverges from the rest of the nation in the
policies it employs to supervise parolees. California far exceeds the rest
of the nation in the rates at which it places people on parole and then
revokes their parole. As a result, California's parole population has
grown much faster than the rest of the nation.20
In testimony to the Commission, Jeremy Travis, a national expert on
parole stated that "California has embarked on parole policies markedly
different from every other state in the country, with significantly greater
use of parole supervision and dramatically greater use of parole
violations. These parole supervision and revocation policies are very
expensive, with uncertain benefits."
The State's parole population has increased ten-fold, compared to a fourfold increase nationally during the past two decades. While California
accounts for 12 percent of the nation's general population, it accounts
for 18 percent of the parole population. In other words, nearly one in
every five people on parole in this country live in California.21
California parolees are not substantially different than parolees in other
states. However, California parole policies are dramatically different:

California's Parole Population 1980-2000
Parole Population
140,000
2000:
118,673

120,000

100,000
1990:
67,661

80,000

60,000

40,000
1980:
11,428

20,000

0
1980

1982

1984

1986

1988

1990

1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

Sources: Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Written Testimony to the
Commission, February 27, 2003 and CDC, "Historical Trends, 1980-2000," Table 7.

6

BACKGROUND
ü

Virtually every California prisoner is placed on parole upon
completing a prison term. Nationally the average is 82 percent.22

ü

California revokes parole and returns a greater percentage of parolees
to prison than any other state. While nearly one in five parolees live
in California, more than two in five of all parolees (42 percent)
returned to prison are in California.23

ü

When a parolee is returned to prison, the "clock stops" on the time
owed for parole supervision. When offenders leave prison after
serving time for a parole violation, they still face the same remaining
supervision time as when they returned to prison. In this way, parole
supervision can stretch out for years. In fact, it's possible for an
offender to spend more time in prison for parole revocations than for
an original sentence.24

The issue with the greatest consequences – for public safety, prison
operations and fiscal implications – is how California deals with parolees
who are not successfully reintegrating into their communities.

Parole Violations Defined
Parolees can be returned to custody for either a violation of the
conditions of parole or for having been convicted of a new crime. A small
percentage of parolees are actually charged and convicted of a new crime
and receive a new sentence. The vast majority of parolees returned to
custody have committed a parole violation, commonly called a "technical
violation."

Parole Violators Returned to Prison 1980-2000
100,000
90,000
Administrative Returns

80,000
New Convictions

70,000
60,000
50,000
40,000
30,000
20,000
10,000
0

Sources: Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Written Testimony to
the Commission, February 27, 2003 and CDC, "Rate of Felon Parolees
Returned to California Prisons, CY 2000," Table 1.

7

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) uses the term
"administrative return" for parole violations that result in a return to
custody. Within this category, the CDC makes a further distinction
between an administrative "criminal" return and an administrative
"non-criminal" return.
An administrative criminal return involves
criminal activity, even though the parolee is not convicted of a new crime.
An administrative non-criminal return is a violation that does not involve
criminal activity and would not result in a prison sentence except for the
terms of parole. Approximately 20 percent of the total returns to custody
are classified as non-criminal administrative returns, and of these almost
all are for a violation of the parole process, such as failure to meet with
the parole agent, report a change of address or refrain from using
alcohol. Of the administrative criminal returns, half are for drug use or
possession. The rest include more serious property crimes and violent
crimes.25 The chart on the following page details the percentage of
parolees returned to custody for each type of violation and the average
time served.

Parole Trends
The rate of returns to prison for parole violations has varied significantly
over the years, ranging from less than 30 percent in 1980 to nearly
90 percent in 1989, and down again to 60 percent in 1992. The rate has
remained fairly stable for the past several years at about 70 percent. The
chart below reveals that while the overall rate of returns to prisons has
fluctuated dramatically, the rate of returns for parolees who commit new
crimes and receive new sentences has remained stable at 17 percent.
The dramatic rise and fall of return to custody rates has been driven by
administrative returns.26

Parolees Returned to Custody
New Crimes and Technical Violations 1980-2000
Rate per 100 Average Daily Parole Population

Rate per 100 Average Daily Parole Population
100

100

90

90

80

80

70

70

60

60

Total Returns

Total Returns

50

50
Administrative
Technical
Violations

40

Returns

7

40

30

30
New CrimeNew

20

Crime

20

10
10

0

0
1980

1980

1982

1982

1984

1984

1986

1986

1988

1988

1990

1990

1992

1992

1994

1994

1996

1996

1998

1998

2000

2000

Sources: Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Written Testimony to
the Commission, February 27, 2003 and CDC, "Rate of Felon Parolees
Returned to California Prisons, CY 2000," Table 1.

8

BACKGROUND

Parole Violators Released from Custody by Principal Charge Category
Average Revocation Time Assessed and Served - Calendar Year 2000
Number

Felon Parolees Returned to Custody

Pct.

Revocation Time
in Months
Revoked
Served

71,562

Parole Violators Returned to Custody (PV-RTC)
Continued on Parole

61,675
9,887

Parole Violators Returned to Custody

61,675

100.0

7.8

5.2

Violations of Parole Process
Crimes Against Persons
Weapons Related Offenses
Property Offenses
Drug Offenses
Other Offenses
Charge Information Not Available

11,563
7,533
1,809
3,867
18,031
16,481
2,391

18.7
12.2
2.9
6.3
29.2
26.7
3.9

5.9
10.2
9.7
9.7
6.8
8.6
*

4.2
7.2
7.8
5.8
4.3
5.5
*

Administrative Criminal Returns

47,161

79.6

8.3

5.4

TYPE I

24,085

40.6

7.0

4.4

Drug Possession
Drug Use
Miscellaneous Violations of Law

6,671
9,534
7,880

11.3
16.1
13.3

7.1
6.0
8.0

4.3
4.0
5.0

TYPE II
Sex Offenses
Battery and Assault (minor)
Burglary
Theft and Forgery
Drug Sales/Trafficking (minor)
Firearms and Weapons
Driving Violations (minor)
Miscellaneous Non-Violent Crimes
TYPE III
Homicide
Robbery
Rape and Sexual Assaults
Battery and Assault (major)
Burglary (major)
Drug Violations (major)
Weapon Offenses
Driving Violations (major)

15,503
1,292
1,574
506
3,016
1,375
366
2,692
4,682
7,573
78
524
384
3,681
345
451
883
364

26.2
2.2
2.7
0.9
5.1
2.3
0.6
4.5
7.9
12.8
0.1
0.9
0.6
6.2
0.6
0.8
1.5
0.6

9.3
8.7
9.5
9.7
9.6
10.0
9.7
9.2
8.9
11
11.5
11.4
11.2
10.6
10.9
10.1
10.7
10.3

5.9
6.1
6.3
5.8
5.7
5.7
7.1
5.8
5.8
7.6
9.9
9.6
8.6
7.4
6.4
5.7
8.9
6.3

863

1.5

10.5

7.1

Administrative Non-Criminal Returns

12,123

20.4

6.0

4.3

TYPE I - Violations of Parole Process

11,556

19.5

5.9

4.2

560
7

0.9
0.0

8.0
10.3

6.4
9.2

Miscellaneous Violent Crimes (major)

TYPE II - Weapons Access
TYPE III - Psychiatric Endangerment

Source: CDC, California Prisoners and Parolees, 2001, Table 42. Numbers have been rounded. *Data not available.

9

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

How Revocation Decisions Are Made
Parole revocation is the process by which a parolee is found to have
violated the conditions of parole and is returned to custody. Not every
parole violation results in a parole revocation. With certain violations
parole officials can offer the parolee an alternative sanction.
For
example, a parolee who fails a drug test can be offered the alternative of
enrolling in and completing a drug treatment program. Some violations
require mandatory reporting to the Board of Prison Terms as detailed in
the box. Another alternative is to charge parolees with a new crime, and
upon conviction, return them to prison with a
new sentence.

Violations Triggering Mandatory
Reports
§

Any violent conduct described under Penal
Code 667.5 or other assault resulting in
serious injury to the victim.

§

Possession, control or use of any firearms,
explosives or weapons, and any knife with
a blade over two inches in the parolee's
possession outside a kitchen or job.

§

Involvement in fraudulent schemes
involving more than $1,000.

§

Sale, transportation or distribution of
controlled substances.

§

A parolee whose whereabouts are
unknown and who has been unavailable
for 30 days.

§

Any other conduct in violation of conditions
or parole deemed sufficiently serious by
the parole agent.

§

A mentally disordered parolee whose
ability to maintain himself or herself is
seriously impaired or who poses a serious
threat to the community, and who cannot
be adequately treated in the community.

§

Failure to register as a sex offender as
provided, or the failure to provide
blood/saliva samples as required.

§
§

Failure to sign conditions of parole.

§

Any conduct indicating that the parolee's
mental condition has deteriorated such
that the parolee is likely to engage in
future criminal behavior.

Violation of a special condition prohibiting
gang participation or mandating
compliance with any gang-abatement
injunction or court order.

Parole revocation is initiated when the Board
of Prison Terms is notified by CDC that a
violation has occurred. The Board of Prison
Terms has the authority to suspend or revoke
parole and return a parolee to custody for
violating any of the conditions of parole.
Overall, three-quarters of detected parole
violations are referred to the board, with the
remainder dealt with by parole officials.27 If a
violation is referred to the board, the parolee
has the opportunity for a hearing in front of
the board.
Some 95 percent of parolees are in custody
while awaiting a revocation hearing.28 Some
cases are disposed of prior to a hearing
through a process called the “Parole
Revocation Screening Calendar,” where the
parolee is presented with a sentence for the
alleged violation and can accept or reject it. Of
the parole violators referred to the board, 92
percent are returned to custody. 29
If a revocation hearing occurs, the threshold
for finding a parolee in violation is a
preponderance of evidence and hearsay is
allowed. By comparison, in criminal courts,
the standard is guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt and hearsay evidence is not permitted.
In the revocation process, legal representation
is not required or provided in most cases.30

10

BACKGROUND

Parole Revocation is Expensive
As incarceration rates skyrocketed over the past two decades, so did
costs. In 2002-03, the average annual cost to house an inmate in state
prison was $28,502 or approximately $78 per day. 31
The majority of offenders entering prison are parole violators, as opposed
to new commitments from courts. Parolees account for two-thirds of all
admissions to California prisons. This was not always the case. In
1978, parole violators represented approximately 8 percent of the felons
admitted to California prisons. By 1988, this number had increased to
47 percent, and by 1999 parole violators represented 67 percent of all
admissions to state prisons.32
All parolees returning to custody must be processed through the CDC's
intake reception centers. CDC is unable to provide specific costs for
reception centers, however, it is likely to be higher than other inmate
housing because of the higher costs associated with the personnel
required for the intake process.33 Because revocation sentences are
relatively short, parolees may serve most, if not all of their sentence in
the reception center.34 By comparison, the cost to house a parolee in one
of the CDC's privately contracted Residential Multi-Service Centers,
which provide housing, drug counseling and educational and job
training, is $55 per day. 35 Costs to supervise a parolee in the field are
significantly less, $2,882 annually or approximately $8 per day. 36
Reception centers serve as intake facilities where new prisoners and
returning parolees are classified by potential threat level. Since the
inmate population at these centers ranges from low-level offenders to the
high-security risks, offenders spend most of each day locked in a cell,
often as much as 23 hours a day. 37
Unclassified offenders typically are unable to participate in the limited
number of educational and vocational training or alcohol and drug
treatment programs offered to prisoners. Due to the time spent being
reclassified and the relatively short terms, parole violators are unable to
gain the full "good time" credits rewarded to inmates who participate in
prison programs. So, not only are parole violators unable to receive the
possible benefits of education or drug treatment programs, they also cost
taxpayers more than other inmates because they serve a longer
percentage of their sentence in prison.
California spends approximately $1.5 billion in parole-related funding
annually. The vast majority of the funding, $900 million, is spent to
house parole violators who have returned to custody. The State spends

11

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
an additional $465 million supervising parolees, including slightly more
than $15 million on the Preventing Parolee Crime Programs that foster
successful parolee reintegration.38

Uncertain Public Safety Benefits
Despite nearly a billion spent returning parolees to prison, the benefits of
this strategy are uncertain.39 And the revolving prison door impacts
much more than tax dollars. The consequences for public safety and the
costs to society in terms of crime are potentially larger.
As noted previously, most parolees have limited educational and
vocational skills. An estimated 80 percent are substance abusers and
approximately 16 percent suffer from mental illness.40 While serving
time in prison, opportunities to participate in programs to prepare for
re-entry are limited. CDC policies preve nt offenders with the highest
security classifications from participating in virtually any rehabilitative
programs. So some of the most violent offenders, who have spent most
of their prison sentence in a security housing unit, go straight from
solitary confinement to the street, with virtually no preparation at all.41
It is not surprising that more than half of all parolees commit another
crime within months of their release from prison.42 In some California
cities, parolees account for half of all crimes.43
Returning virtually all parole violators to prison has had unproven public
safety benefits.44
While parole violators returned to custody are
temporarily unable to commit crimes outside the prison walls, critics
argue that this method of containment merely postpones, but does not
prevent crime.
Additionally, critics argue that some parole policies – such as returning a
parole violator who has committed a violent crime to prison on a parole
revocation instead of charging and sentencing the offender with a new
crime – may actually endanger public safety.45 Most parolees returned to
custody serve fairly similar sentences, ranging from three to 12 months,
regardless of the severity of the parole violation. Violent offenders serve
much shorter sentences than they would if they were charged and
convicted of the same crime through the court system. Correctional
officials argue that in certain instances, there is not enough evidence to
convict a parole violator of a new crime, since the burden of proof in
court is much higher than in a Board of Prison Terms revocation hearing.
By revoking parole, a criminal offender who would otherwise be on the
streets is at least temporarily locked up. 46

12

BACKGROUND
On average, a parole violator serves five months. A parole violator with
an administrative non-criminal violation, such as a failure to meet with a
parole agent, will serve an average of 4.3 months. A parole violator with
an administrative criminal violation for drug use or possession will serve
an average of 4.4 months. A parole violator with a violent administrative
criminal violation such as homicide or rape, will serve an average of
7.6 months. 47
Ironically, parolees returned to prison for non-criminal violations have
the least access to "good time" credits because their sentences are so
short. They receive an average sentence of six months and serve an
average of 4.3 months, earning slightly more than a month and a half of
good time credit. Parolees returned for the most serious administrative
criminal violations receive an average sentence of 11 months and serve
an average of 7.6 months, earning nearly four months in good time
credit.48

Parole Over Time
Parole in California today is dramatically different than when it was first
introduced at the turn of the 20th century.
Until the mid-1970s,
prisoners served sentences of indeterminate length that could range from
a minimum of one year to as high as life in prison. Parole boards
determined when an offender was ready for release and parole was an
incentive to entice prisoners to behave in prison, participate in
rehabilitative programs and develop plans for re-entering society.
The State's Uniform Determinate Sentencing Act of 1976 radically
changed parole in California. Today, most prisoners serve a fixed
sentence followed by up to three years of parole supervision. Only
offenders convicted of the most serious and violent offenses receive an
indeterminate sentence with the possibility of parole determined by the
Board of Prison Terms. Less than 1 percent of all parolees are released
as a result of a board decision.49
Parole is no longer a reward for prisoners deemed ready to re-enter
society – it is a mandatory requirement after completion of a prison
sentence for more than 90 percent of all prisoners.50 The box on the
opposite page provides a historical perspective of sentencing policy shifts,
the consequences of determinate sentencing laws, and a summary of a
Commission survey of criminal justice experts on the feasibility of
reforming sentencing laws.

13

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
Impact of Determinate Sentencing Laws on Parole Policy
The concept of parole began in the late 1800s with the introduction of indeterminate sentencing laws
allowing the early release of prisoners to six months of parole supervision. Courts set sentencing
ranges, allowing prison authorities and boards to decide if prisoners should be released before their
maximum sentence was served. Early release to parole was an incentive to encourage inmates to
participate in rehabilitative programs.
California enacted indeterminate sentencing laws in 1917. The theory, as explained by the California
Supreme Court was that "these laws…seek to make the punishment fit the criminal rather than the
crime. They endeavor to put before the prisoner great incentive to well-doing… the purpose is to
strengthen his will to do right and lessen his temptation to do wrong."
By the mid-1970s, the Adult Authority that made decisions regarding early release to parole was under
attack from divergent factions for being too harsh and discriminatory with some inmates and too
lenient with others.
Individuals convicted of similar crimes often received grossly different
punishments. Lawsuits were filed claiming race and gender bias and discrimination. Others argued
that the ambiguity of parole hearings violated the right to due process. Simultaneously, victims' rights
advocates argued that dangerous offenders were being paroled too early considering the severity of
their crimes. There was a universal lack of faith in the Adult Authority's ability to choose an
appropriate time for inmate release.
In addition to the system inequities, the public also had become disillusioned with the prison system's
ability to rehabilitate inmates. A well-publicized study stating that nothing worked in prison
rehabilitation, coupled with rising crime rates, fostered an environment for change.
Liberals seeking equality in sentencing and conservatives emphasizing the need for greater crime
control found common ground on the issue of "certainty of punishment." Academics with vastly
divergent ideologies agreed that sentencing judges and parole boards had too much discretion.
In response, California lawmakers enacted the Uniform Determinate Sentencing Act, which set off a
national trend. Punishment replaced rehabilitation as the primary function of prison time. Convicted
felons would receive fixed sentences with the possibility of "good-time" credits, followed by up to three
years of parole supervision. The law dramatically changed the concept of parole as a reward
incentive. Release dates for most inmates were no longer decided by the Adult Authority. Sentencing
decisions were divided between the Legislature and the courts.
Initially, the law established a simple triad of terms for several categories of felonies. Judges were
required to sentence an offender to the middle term within the triad of the legislatively established law,
unless there were mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Over the past three decades hundreds of
laws were enacted to enhance and further define sentences. Indeterminate sentencing still exists for
offenders convicted of the most serious violent crimes such as murder or kidnap for ransom and the
Board of Prison Terms (which replaced the Adult Authority) is charged with reviewing these cases and
determining parole eligibility, although these cases comprise a very small portion of the prison
population.
While determinate sentencing laws eliminated the inequities and uncertainties of prison terms, the
laws spawned new challenges, including California's current parole problems. To further understand
the impact of determinate sentencing laws on parole policy, the Commission conducted a survey of
criminal justice experts on the feasibility of sentencing law reforms. Responses were as diverse as
the experts surveyed. However, many agreed that the current sentencing system was unduly
expensive and flawed. All agreed that the State should not return to the indeterminate sentencing
structure as it existed before. Several thought significant reforms were possible within the existing
sentencing structure. Others indicated a major shift in sentencing law was required, but doubted the
political feasibility of such a major endeavor.
Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who as Governor signed the Determinate Sentencing Law, told the
Commission he had erred. He said that the reform was not well thought out and that the State should
return to indeterminate sentencing with a Board of Prison Terms representative of the State's
diversity.
Sources and a list of experts participating in the Commission's survey are detailed in the notes on page 103.

14

BACKGROUND
How Are Parolees Supervised?
Parolees are classified into four major groups, high control, high services,
control services and minimum services.
§

High Control. Parolees classified as high control were convicted of
violent felonies, must register as sex offenders, are known gang
members, or are cases of particular interest to the public. They must
make contact with a parole agent twice a month – at the parolee’s
residence once a month and at another location once a month. If
subject to drug testing, they are tested at least once a month.
Additionally, parole agents make two collateral contacts per month
with a doctor, relative, spouse, employer or other individual who has
contact with the parolee.

§

High Service. Parolees classified as high service have special service
needs or behaviors, such as people with severe mental illness or civil
addicts (offenders civilly committed to CDC for treatment of narcotic
addiction). The supervision requirements are the same as for high
control parolees, except that civil addicts have weekly drug tests.
As of July 2003, there were 28,233 parolees classified as high control
or high service.
Within the high control and high service
classifications there are several specialized categories, including high
risk sex offenders (1,964), second strikers (10,703) and an enhanced
outpatient defined as a parolee requiring psychiatric assistance and
extensive help (1,102). High control and high services parolees are
evaluated every 90 days and can drop down to a lower service level if
they are free of violations and show stable employment and housing.

§

Control Service. Parolees classified as control services do not meet
the criteria for high control or high service and must make two faceto-face contacts per quarter with the parole agent. As of July 2003,
there were 54,191 parolees classified as control service.

§

Control services parolees who satisfactorily
complete 180 days of parole are automatically assigned to minimum
supervision, where they are only required to have one face-to-face
contact with their parole agent every 120 days. They are required to
submit a written form monthly updating the parole agent on personal
information such as a change of address, employment or marital
status. As of July 2003, there were 27,929 parolees classified as
minimum service.

Minimum Service.

Other parolees who are not classified in these four categories include
illegal immigrants who have served their sentence and will be
deported, mentally disordered parolees assigned to state hospitals
and parolees who have absconded. As of July 2003, there were
14,794 parolees awaiting deportation. These are not considered part

15

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
of the parole caseload unless they return illegally to the United States
and come to the attention of law enforcement. As of July 2003, there
were 19,954 parolees at large who had absconded by failing to report
their whereabouts to their parole agent and who have a warrant out
for arrest.51

Parolee Classifications

Control Services
49%

Minimum Services
25%

High Control/
High Services
26%
Source: Parole Classifications by Region, July 2003, Parole &
Community Services Division, Department of Corrections.

What Are the Conditions of Parole?
The Department of Corrections imposes conditions of parole for
determinately sentenced prisoners, while the Board of Prison Terms sets
conditions for indeterminately sentenced prisoners. General conditions
of parole are applied to all parolees and include complying with parole
agent instructions, not engaging in criminal conduct and not owning,
possessing, using or having access to any weapons. Special conditions of
parole can be imposed based on the prisoner’s offense and most
commonly include the requirements to abstain from alcohol, submit to
drug testing or participate in psychiatric treatment.52

The State’s Role
Three state entities – The Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, the
Board of Prison Terms and the Department of Corrections – have
responsibilities for setting parole policies and administering parole.

16

BACKGROUND
Youth and Adult Correctional Agency
The Youth and Adult Correctional Agency
oversees the activities of several boards and
departments, including the Board of Prison
Terms, Board of Corrections and Department of
Corrections. Its stated mission is to “develop
and implement effective and innovative
correctional policy, create a coordinated
correctional system which is responsive to the
citizen's right to public safety and governmental
accountability, and maintain a reputation for
excellence and integrity.”53
The agency
secretary is a member of the Governor’s Cabinet
and advises the Governor on correctional
matters.

Youth & Adult Correctional Agency
The Youth & Adult Correctional Agency is
charged with overseeing and coordinating the
activities of the following departments:

§

Board of Corrections

§

Department of Corrections

§

Narcotic Addict Evaluation Authority

§

Board of Prison Terms

§

The Youth Authority

§

Youthful Offender Parole Board

Board of Prison Terms
The Board of Prison Terms conducts parole and parole revocation
hearings for the relatively small number of prisoners sentenced to state
prison for a term of life with the possibility of parole and various custody
hearings for mentally disordered sex offenders.
It also conducts
revocation hearings for parolees who violate conditions of parole and are
reported to the board by CDC.
Additionally, the board makes
recommendations to the Governor regarding applicants for pardon and
executive clemency.

Board of Corrections
The 15-member Board of Corrections – comprised of state and local
correctional officials and members of the public – works in partnership
with county sheriffs, chief probation officers, other local officials and
community-based service providers to improve the delivery of
correctional programs. The board develops standards for the
construction and operation of local jails and juvenile detention facilities
and for the training of local law enforcement and probation personnel. It
administers grant programs for facility construction, crime and
delinquency prevention and conducts studies regarding the criminal
justice needs of California communities.

Department of Corrections
The California Department of Corrections is charged with two distinct
and often-conflicting missions.
On the one hand, the department
operates 32 state prisons, 37 conservation camps, 16 community
correctional facilities and three prisoner mother facilities.54 The explicit
goal of these facilities is to punish offenders. The department is the
largest of all state entities in terms of staffing with 48,559 employees, of
which 31,241 are sworn peace officers. Of these, 42,341 work in

17

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
institutions, 3,099 are employed in parole and community services and
3,119 are in various administration positions at the central office and at
the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center.55
Rehabilitation programs are small and access is limited. In 2003, only
54 percent of the inmates were assigned a full-time placement in a
program. The remaining inmates were either awaiting classification in a
reception center or on a waiting list for a program, in secure or
segregated housing, awaiting deportation or were severely physically or
mentally disabled. 56 A summary of the programs is provided in a table
on the following page. The 2003-04 budget directed CDC to restructure
some of the programs and these reforms also are outlined in the table.
The Parole and Community Services Division is responsible for protecting
the public and assisting parolees to reintegrate into society. The division
has four regions and within these regions there are 182 parole units and
sub-units in 81 locations throughout the state. Additionally, the division
operates four parole outpatient clinics.57
The division also oversees 18 re-entry centers and two restitution
facilities operated by public or private agencies under contract to CDC.58
Re-entry centers assist inmates with education and job training and
provide counseling. Furlough to the re-entry centers is available for
certain non-violent offenders with 120 days or less remaining on a
sentence.59 Currently, 884 inmates are housed in re-entry centers.60
The department’s 2002-03 operating budget was $4.8 billion
representing 6 percent of the state General Fund. Of that amount,
$4.3 billion was allocated to the Institutions Division and $465 million
was allocated to the Parole and Community Services Division.

Department of Corrections Budget 2002-03
Parole & Community Services
10%
$4.65 Million

Institutions
90%
$4.3 Billion

Source: Department of Finance, 2002-03 Governor's Budget

18

BACKGROUND

Prison Programs
Program Name
(Inception
Date)
Educational and
Vocational
(50+ years)

Participants

Funding
2002-03

2003-04 Budget Reforms61

12,294*

$201.2
million

Academic and vocational training programs will be
restructured to give priority to inmates eligible for
day-for-day sentence reduction credits and to add
education programs in reception centers. The
budget restored $10.9 million in cuts and provided
an additional $10 million to fund the reception
center program.

Educational programs include instruction in basic literacy and general educational development
(GED). The Prison Literacy Act required that CDC offer literacy training to 60 percent of eligible
inmates by January 1, 1996 and established the goal that eventually all prisoners read at the ninth
grade level. In 1997, the department reported that only 35 to 40 percent of eligible inmates had
access to literacy programs. Vocational education programs teach inmates skills including carpentry,
62
metal working, painting, masonry, auto mechanics, auto body and graphic design.
Funding cuts and
restructuring in the 2003-04 State budget eliminated vocational programs in most Level 4 prisons,
63
leaving about 575 vocational instructors to provide classes in 22 prisons. *12,294 is the maximum
number of classroom slots available each month. CDC tracks the number of program participants
monthly but does not have data on the number of prisoners participating annually in a program.
Inmates remain in a program for various lengths of time based on their competency in the coursework
64
and their sentence term.
Re-entry
Programs (1978)

32,802

Unknown

Re-entry programs will be expanded to provide a
distance learning program for inmates in reception
centers.

Re-entry programs (previously called prerelease programs) teach job search techniques and how to
apply for benefits, identification and drivers licenses. In general, the programs last three weeks,
except in the women's prisons where the program lasts six weeks. In institutions where classroom
teaching is not possible, inmates are provided information packets, individualized workshops and a
video series. There is typically a waiting list for participation, although the length varies by institution.
While less than 30 percent of all inmates participate in the re-entry program, CDC estimates that many
more are exposed to re-entry concepts while in substance abuse treatment programs and through a
closed circuit video series provided at all institutions. The re-entry programs are budgeted under the
academic and vocational education budget and the department is unable to quantify a cost of the re65
entry programs.
Drug Treatment
Program (1990)

8,226

$31.8
million

Non-violent inmates could be placed in a secure,
supervised, community residential drug treatment
program for the final 120 days of their sentences, a
strategy available under current law but
66
underused.

CDC’s Office of Substance Programs coordinates the department’s alcohol and drug treatment
programs. There are 8,226 in-prison substance abuse treatment beds in 18 facilities. An additional
400 beds will be activated in December 2003. Inmates participate an average of nine months.
Aftercare upon parole is available for half of inmates who complete in-prison treatment but it is not
67
mandatory.

19

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

Prison Programs
Program Name
(Inception Date)
Prison Industry
Authority (1983)

Participants

Funding
2002-03

6,000

Selfsupported

2003-04 Budget Reforms

The PIA was established to reduce the cost of prison operations and help rehabilitate inmates
by putting them to work. The PIA operates about 65 manufacturing and agricultural industries
68
in 24 sites. Inmates produce clothing, shoes, mattresses and furniture used in the prison,
operate the laundry, and provide printing, lens grinding and other services. The PIA also sells
69
furniture and office supplies to other state agencies.
Joint Venture
Program (1991)

163

Selfsupported

Joint Ventures are partnerships between a correctional facility and a local business that agrees
to set up a production or service enterprise within the prison walls, hire, train and supervise
inmates, and sell the products or services to the general public. Participating inmates earn
wages prevailing in the local area. Eighty percent of their earnings are subject to deductions
for taxes, room and board, restitution and family support. Remaining earnings are credited to a
savings account available to inmates upon release. CDC currently has 163 inmates employed
70
in joint ventures at eight institutions.
Conservation
Camp Program
(1946)

4,000

$43 million
(CDC)
$38 million
(CDF)

There are 38 CDC conservation camps scattered across rural California. Inmates in camps
join fire lines in the fire season and in the off season build and repair river dikes and roads,
maintain state parks and join rescue missions. They make toys for the “Make a Wish
Foundation,” repair bikes for “Toys for Tots” and cut firewood for the disabled and elderly.
Eligibility is confined to low-level offenders with no records of violence, sexual offenses or
arson. Inmates annually provide over 3.1 million hours of emergency response and 10 million
hours of labor on work projects and save California taxpayers billions of dollars, according to
71
the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF).
Consistently, more than
2,000 inmates are on waiting lists for conservation camps.
Community
Correctional
Re-entry Centers
(mid 1980s)

884

$24.2
million

Eliminates three of the five facilities which
are described as marginally more
expensive than incarcerating inmates in
state prisons. Anticipated savings are
$400,000.

CDC oversees 18 private re-entry centers that provide education, job training and counseling.
Furlough to re-entry centers is available for certain low-offending male and female inmates with
72
120 days or less remaining on a sentence. The program is voluntary for those who qualify.

Prison Program Eligibility
In 2003, approximately 87,000 or 54 percent of the160,000 inmates were
participating in a full-time prison program assignment. An additional
19,000 were eligible to participate, but were either on a waiting list for a

20

BACKGROUND
program, waiting to be classified in a reception center or were not
assigned full-time. As indicated in the chart, the 2003-04 Budget Act
directed CDC to add education programs in reception centers. While
educational and academic programs are open to all eligible inmates,
other programs have further eligibility restrictions. For example, only
certain low-level offenders qualify to participate in the conservation
camps and placement in community correctional re-entry centers is
limited to low-level offenders within 120 days of prison release. The
remaining 54,000 inmates who are not eligible to participate in programs
include inmates in administrative segregation or in secure housing units,
undocumented aliens awaiting deportation and inmates who are severely
physically or mentally ill.73

Parolee Supervision Trends
As documented previously, the past two decades have witnessed
explosive growth in the prison population, and in California, tremendous
growth in the number of parolees. The number of parole agents has not
kept pace with the caseload growth and there are limited resources
available to support the successful re-entry of parolees. The majority of
parolees, some 80 percent, usually have fewer than two 15-minute faceto-face contacts with their parole officer each month.74
The Parole and Community Services Division oversees a variety of
programs to help facilitate successful parolee re-entry. However, there
are not enough programs to serve the needs of all parolees and programs
are not consistently available across the state. Additionally, participation
in some programs is low because the programs are voluntary. When a
parolee violates a condition of parole that does not require a mandatory
report to the Board of Prison Terms, the parole agent can compel
participation in a program, when available, as an alternative to a return
to prison.
The Legislature recognizes that current prison and parole policies are
costly and do not adequately protect public safety. In the 2003-04 state
budget, the Legislature directed CDC to implement policy changes in
parole to reduce costs and improve public safety by expanding services to
assist parolees in becoming law-abiding citizens and by increasing the
use of alternative sanctions in the community to avoid costly returns to
prison for technical parole violators.
The tables on the following pages depict current programs for parolees
including the number of participants and the estimated need for the
program services. The current program descriptions are followed by a
table detailing the reforms in the 2003-04 budget.

21

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

Parole Programs 2002-03 75
Program Name & (Inception Date)

Participants
served

Estimated
Need

Funding

4,727

56,000-70,000

$3.2 million

Computerized Literacy Learning Centers
(1991)

The literacy program offers computerized education in reading, writing, math, G.E.D., and resume
writing. Participants learn at their own pace and lessons are tailored to individual needs. Contra
Costa County Office of Education administers the program serving 45 parole units. The program is
76
funded through the federal Workforce Investment Act.
STAR - Substance Abuse Treatment and
Recovery (1991)

9,190

90,000

$3.1 million

STAR is a curriculum-based program designed to motivate substance abusers to participate in postrelease recovery activities. Contra Costa County Office of Education administers the program and
serves the same parole units as the literacy centers plus three additional units. The majority of the
parolees are participating as an alternative to a return to prison for a drug or alcohol use-related parole
77
violation.
Residential Multi-Service Centers (1991)

456

8,000 - 11,300

$4.4 million

The service centers provide housing, meals, counseling and life skills, including parenting, money
management and budgeting, and job search and placement assistance. There are 228 beds available
for the six-month program. The program can be expanded up to a year and includes 90 days of
aftercare services. The centers are located in Fresno, Stockton, Bakersfield, and Los Angeles.
Additional locations in the Bay Area were eliminated due to non-compliance by private contractors,
78
however, staff indicated CDC expects to replace these centers.
SASCA - Substance Abuse Services
Coordination Agencies (1995)

10,371

90,000

$50 million

This program connects parolees who have participated in the substance abuse treatment program
while in prison with community services providing aftercare. Participation in aftercare treatment is
voluntary. There are 8,200 in-prison treatment slots and aftercare funding is provided for half of those
inmates upon release. Additionally, female offenders participating in a treatment program while in
prison can be placed in aftercare treatment through the FOTEP program described below.
FOTEP - Female Offender Treatment and
Employment Program (2000)

984

See above

$13.2 million

This residential program for female parolees is available following release from a prison-based drug
treatment program. In addition to substance abuse treatment, the program provides life and job skill
development, victim impact awareness, job and housing search assistance.
Parole Services Network (1991)

4,711

90,000

$11.7 million

This partnership between CDC and the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs provides substance
abuse treatment to parolees who did not receive treatment services while in prison. The majority of
parolees participating in PSN treatment programs are enrolled as an alternative sanction as a result of
a parole violation. There are four networks serving nine counties.
Offender Employment Continuum (1999)

2,512

79,000-101,000

$1.7 million

The OEC provides parolees an opportunity to further their education, obtain vocational training or be
placed into a job. It includes a mandatory 40-hour weeklong program to assess education and job
skills and provide job preparation and placement. It is offered in 41 parole units through private
contractors in six counties: Fresno, Sacramento, Contra Costa, Alameda, Los Angeles and San Diego.

22

BACKGROUND

Parole Programs 2002-03
Program Name & (Inception Date)

Participants

Estimated
Need

Funding

Employment Development Department

8,088

79,000-101,000

$2.8 million

Job placement specialists from EDD help parolees obtain employment in 62 parole units.
PACT - Parole and Corrections Teams
(1999)

Data
unavailable

126,000

No state funds

Complete PACT programs are available in Oakland, Sacramento and San Bernardino. Several other
communities have partial programs. PACT partners parole with local law enforcement and community
organizations to serve new parolees. Parolees attend a mandatory orientation session where they
have opportunities for employment, vocational training and substance abuse treatment. Approximately
10 percent of the parolees attending these sessions enter one of the offered programs.
Mental Health Services Continuum
(2001)

17,023*

15,700

$10 million

This program provides case management for mentally ill parolees, including assistance in setting
mental health appointments and coordinating other program needs including drug treatment, education
and job programs and housing. *The number of participants includes parolees referred to the program
for an evaluation by their parole officer, but who were not diagnosed with a mental illness in prison.
HIV (1993)

1,700

Voluntary
program

$2.5 million

Inmates who identify themselves as HIV positive receive medication and case management services
before and after release to parole. Upon release, HIV parolees are treated at local government or other
community facilities.

2003-04 Budget Act –Parole Reforms79
Implement a Risk Assessment
Tool

To effectively target resources and to enable parole agents to
better assess the public safety threat of parolees, CDC has been
directed to implement a risk assessment tool.

Establish Re-entry Units

Parole staff and social workers will be placed in re-entry units in
each of the 32 prisons to provide case management services for
inmates 90 days prior to release.

Expand PACT Programs

CDC was directed to increase services in existing PACT
programs and to establish PACTs in more communities.

Expand Substance Abuse
Treatment

Substance abuse treatment control units will be expanded as an
alternative sanction for non-violent, drug abusing parole violators.
It will include a 30-day "dry out" in custody combined with
intensive drug treatment followed by 90 days of aftercare.

Increase the Use of Alternative
Sanctions

CDC was directed to utilize more alternative community-based
sanctions including curfews, electronic monitoring, home
detention and placement in a community correctional center to
reduce costs and minimize disruption for parolees working at a
job or enrolled in school.

Expand the Mental Health
Continuum

The budget provides for services for an additional 5,250
parolees.

23

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

Proven Practices
Some programs are beginning to show promising results in stemming the
tide of parole violators returning to prison. Certain programs, including
the alcohol and drug treatment programs and the mental health
programs, have been vigorously evaluated and have proven effective in
preventing recidivism. Preliminary data from a study commissioned by
CDC to evaluate the effectiveness of the preventing parolee crime
programs indicates a reduction in recidivism rates for parolees who
complete any one of the six programs evaluated. 80 The final study is due
to the Legislature by the end of 2003.

Prison-based Treatment Programs. Based on the success of a pilot
project for an alcohol and drug treatment program, the State expanded
in-prison treatment programs to 8,000 beds and aftercare upon release
from prison to 4,000 beds. Additional program expansion was planned,
but put on hold due to fiscal constraints. A rigorous evaluation of the
pilot program at R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility found that one year
after release from prison, only 17 percent of those who completed the inprison program and the aftercare component
were re-incarcerated, compared to 66 percent of
Proven Practice: The California
a control group who received no treatment.
Transportation Training Institute
Among those who went through the in-prison
program but did not complete aftercare,
Sacramento's California Transportation
Training Institute is a partnership among the
35 percent were re-incarcerated. 81
CDC, the Sacramento County Office of
Diversion. Voters enacted Proposition 36, the
Education, the Department of Motor
Vehicles, the Department of Social Services
Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of
and Foodlink, a non-profit organization, to
2000, a law diverting non-violent offenders
teach parolees commercial truck driving
convicted
of
drug
possession
into
skills. The intensive, low-cost 18-week
community-based
treatment
instead
of
program provides valuable on-the-job
incarceration.
A six-county survey of the
experience for intern drivers who pick up
food donations and deliver to community
program indicates 17,907 individuals were
programs that feed the hungry.
referred to treatment instead of incarceration in
Until 2002 budget cuts, CDC paid the $184
the first year of implementation. CDC indicated
fees for the course and licensing for all
in 2002 that the State's population of women
parolees referred to the program. CDC
inmates dropped 10 percent from 2001 to 2002
currently pays for three or four parolee
and acknowledged that the biggest contributing
participants per class. The award-winning
factor was Proposition 36. 82
program has proven highly effective in
reducing recidivism: only 7 percent of the
Court Intervention. While also an example of
parolees completing the truck driver program
diversion, the drug court model employs the
have returned to prison.
leverage of the court to coerce drug offenders
Sources: Frances Hesselbein, Chair, Board of
Governors, Leader to Leader Institute, Testimony to the
into treatment. California has 146 drug courts
Commission, February 27, 2003. Francisco Chavez ,
in 50 counties. Drug courts are a collaborative
Training Center Manager, Foodlink, Personal
communication, September 29, 2003.
effort between the courts and the criminal
justice system with a shared goal of helping

24

BACKGROUND
convicted felons and misdemeanants with serious substance abuse
problems complete treatment rather than serve a prison or jail sentence.
A recent evaluation of 3,000 drug court graduates revealed an arrest rate
reduction of 85 percent among participants, a conviction rate reduction
of 77 percent and an incarceration rate reduction of 83 percent. The
study revealed $3 million in savings over the cost of the program to the
State and an additional $26 million in savings in local jail costs.83

Networked treatment programs for parolees. As described previously,
the Parole Services Network provides alcohol and drug treatment for
parolees who did not participate in the prison treatment programs.
Community-based drug treatment providers participating in the network
provide case management services to develop individualized treatment
plans to address needs. A RAND analysis of the multi-county Bay Area
Services Network found that success rates for parolees receiving
treatment from the network providers had no better outcomes than
parolees directed to participate in non-network providers. However, the
study noted that many of the network providers were not consistently
performing true case management. Those that were, particularly some of
the providers in San Francisco, were achieving improved outcomes.84

Case management. A CDC program
providing
case
management
for
approximately 13,000 inmates annually
released to parole who have mental
illnesses
has
shown
significant
reductions in recidivism for participating
parolees. Prior to an inmate's release, a
social worker interviews the inmate to
determine needs and collects and
compiles all available medical and
institutional information. Upon release,
the case manager assists in setting
mental
health
appointments
and
coordinating
other
program
needs
including drug treatment, education and
job programs and housing. CDC staff
tracked outcomes for 3,000 program
participants.
Recidivism for these
participants was 16.5 percent, as
compared to 59.7 percent for parolees
with mental illness who did not receive
case management.85

Proven Practice: The Supportive
Living Program
The Supportive Living Program, run by the
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice,
provides substance abuse treatment for
parolees in two residential settings in San
Francisco. The facilities have a total of 16
beds and are funded through the CDC Parolee
Services Network and the San Francisco
Department of Public Health. Founded in
1991 as part of the Bay Area Services
Network (BASN), the program serves parolees
who did not receive substance abuse
treatment while in prison. The typical client is
a 28- to 40-year-old male who has been in and
out of prison multiple times. Parolees who
stay in the program for 180 days have a
success rate of 60 to 70 percent.
Sources: Dan Maccallair, Executive Director, Center for
Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Little Hoover Commission
advisory committee meeting. January 22, 2003.

25

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

26

USING THE EVIDENCE

Using the Evidence
Finding 1: The correctional system's focus on punishment alone is not
adequately protecting Californians from the 125,000 inmates released from prison
each year.
The correctional system effectively punishes prisoners and protects
public safety while inmates are incarcerated. But 95 percent of prisoners
are eventually released – most after serving an average of 19 months
behind bars.86 But the moment inmates exit the prison gates, the
failings of the correctional system’s singular focus on punishment
become apparent. Within 18 months, 70 percent of parolees will be
returned to prison, many for committing new, drug-related crimes.87
California could substantially improve the performance of the
correctional system if its primary focus was public safety and it
developed information systems to guide evidence-based reforms and
manage programs to reduce violence, crime and drug abuse by convicted
felons.
Unlike many other states and countries, California does not use
information about the public safety risks and rehabilitation needs of
individual prisoners and parolees to reduce parole revocations, crime and
correctional costs. This information is critical to set goals for corrections,
measure progress and hold policy-makers, correctional officials and
offenders accountable for improvements.
California should develop a comprehensive, integrated data system to
manage its correctional programs. It should use evidence about program
effectiveness and information about offenders as the foundations of
parole reforms focused on public safety and parolee reintegration.

The Growing Evidence About What Works
Over time, educational, vocational and treatment programs in California
prisons have declined. Today, evidence about what works to reduce the
likelihood that offenders will commit new crimes is growing.
But
California has not translated that knowledge into policies to better
prepare inmates for their return to the community or to guide how it
supervises, assists or intervenes with parolees. Among the examples:

§

Preparing inmates. Despite mounting proof that educational,
vocational and treatment programs reduce crime and the costs of the
criminal justice system, the focus on punishment has greatly limited

27

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
programs to prepare inmates for release. Only 30 percent of eligible
inmates have access to educational and vocational programs.88

§

Supervising and assisting parolees.
Supervision – without
services and assistance – does little to reduce recidivism.89 But the
focus of parole has shifted from assistance to mostly surveillanceoriented activities.90 A study of California parole officers concluded
that while rehabilitation remains in their rhetoric, in practice parole
services are almost entirely focused on control-oriented activities like
drug testing and curfew monitoring.91

§

Responding to parole violators. Experts assert that it is important
to respond swiftly to parole violations, but that not all violations
require a return to prison. But parole officials recommend threequarters of detected parole violations to the Board of Prison Terms for
revocation. Of the parole violations referred to the board, 92 percent
are returned to custody. 92 Research shows that the length of a
revocation sentence is unrelated to whether a parole violator will
commit another crime upon release. Moreover, there is no research
to say that technical violations lead to more serious crime.93
Nevertheless, from 1990 to 1999, the length of time parole violators
spent in prison increased by 23 percent with the largest proportional
increases imposed for the least serious crimes.94

But the existing evidence that could guide correctional policies does not
improve public safety because California does not distinguish adequately
among the risk and needs of inmates or reallocate resources to those
responses that maximize public safety in the long-term.

“One-size-Fits-All” is Costly
The correctional system does not make decisions about programs,
services, supervision and return to custody based on risk and needs
assessments that distinguish among offenders. Rather, it largely uses a
one-size-fits-all approach that squanders limited resources and
jeopardizes public safety. Risk and needs assessments can reliably
predict which offenders present real risks to public safety and which
interventions are most likely to reduce the chances those offenders will
commit additional crimes.
Officials gather a variety of information about offenders when they come
into prison, including their health and mental health status and needs,
educational level and employment skills and needs. But it is used largely
for security classification purposes or to satisfy court orders. The
information collected is not what is needed to strategically allocate

28

USING THE EVIDENCE
available educational, job training or treatment opportunities to inmates
with the greatest needs or amenability.
On parole, California classifies offenders using a system developed in the
1970s in Wisconsin that was never scientifically validated. Over two
decades it underwent periodic modifications in response to fluctuating
resources and collective bargaining agreements and essentially has
become a workload management tool. 95
The 1996-97 Budget Act directed the department to develop a new
classification and risk methodology to more accurately assess the public
safety risks posed by parolees and identify appropriate staffing levels.
The Legislature provided the department with $1 million to perform the
research and analysis.96
Two years later the department reported that the old classification
system had an accuracy of 45 percent and concluded its integrity as a
risk assessment tool was “negligible.”97 It was declared “to no longer be
viable given the lack of validity, the subjective structure of its application
and the fact the classification system (Risk/Needs Assessment) did not
reflect current developments in risk prediction.”98
CDC proposed a two-year pilot study to evaluate the effect on parolee
return-to-custody rates and public safety of a proposed new classification
and workload system developed by UCLA and later validated in a study
by CSU San Bernardino. The study showed the proposed instrument to
be 65 percent accurate in predicting success on parole, comparable to
national standards, and 50 percent more accurate than the existing
parole classification system.99 The pilot study was never funded.
The 2003-04 budget requires the department to develop a new risk
assessment tool to ensure that parole supervision is “targeted in a
consistent and effective manner.” Parole officials are reviewing existing
tools and intend to adopt one that is automated and accounts for
dynamic – or changing – factors in the lives of parolees.100
The
Legislature required the department to use the assessment as an
offender is released from prison.
Other states, like Oregon and
Washington, use it when offenders enter prison to develop corrections
plans, allocate programs and assist with transition planning.
California’s failure to use information about individuals to assess risks
and identify the programs most likely to prevent them from committing
new crimes has enormous fiscal, social and human consequences,
including:

29

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
ü

Poor use of existing funds. Absent risk and needs information,
resources are not wisely spent to prepare inmates for their eventual
release and promote parolee reintegration. A risk assessment tool
would distinguish among offenders, permitting more resources to be
directed to higher risk offenders.

ü

Reliance on the most expensive, least effective response to
parole violations. Because California does not distinguish among
parolees, it relies on the most expensive and often least effective
response to parole violations – re-incarceration. Risk and needs
assessment would permit the safe and effective use of less expensive
responses for some offenders.

ü

Research
shows that repeated incarcerations can thwart the ability of offenders
to ever successfully reintegrate, disrupt families emotionally and
economically, and foster community instability and crime. The
evidence is leading some states to rethink their incarceration and
parole revocation policies to focus on public safety and reintegration
rather than solely on punishment.

Harm to offenders, their families and communities.

Percentage Successful Among Parole Discharges, 1999
National Average

Utah

California
New Mexico
Kansas
Hawaii
Kentucky
Alaska
Colorado
Arkansas
Missouri
Tennessee
Ohio
Idaho
Louisiana
Maryland
Oregon
Michigan
New York
Texas
New Jersey
Minnesota
Florida
Connecticut
Wyoming
Montana
Iowa
Arizona
South Dakota
Illinois
Nebraska
Indiana
Virginia
Wisconsin
Georgia
West Virginia
South Carolina
Vermont
Rhode Island
Nevada
Alabama
Oklahoma
North Dakota
North Carolina
Mississippi
Massachusetts

0%

20%

40%

60%

80%

100%

When California data is eliminated the national average for parolee success
increases to 53 percent.
Source: Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York.
Testimony to the Little Hoover Commission, January 23, 2003. U.S. Department of Justice,
Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Trends in State Parole, 1990-2000," October 2001.

30

USING THE EVIDENCE

Offender Information is Widely Used -- Elsewhere
Many correctional entities in the United States, Canada and other
countries use offender information to develop correctional policies, costeffectively target correctional strategies and improve public safety. More
than 460 correctional entities use the Level of Supervision InventoryRevised (LSI-R), one of the most respected of the newer risk assessment
instruments.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons, Iowa Department of
Corrections, San Diego Probation Department and New Zealand
Department of Corrections are just a few. The LSI-R predicts success as
well as failure, providing parole officials with a numeric estimate of each
parolee’s risk and needs, making it possible to link them to appropriate
services.101
The National Council on Crime and Delinquency developed and tested
the Correctional Assessment and Intervention System, which combines
proven risk and needs assessments with the Case Management
Classification system, a method of using offender information to develop
case plans and allocate resources. Evaluators concluded that offenders
supervised by officers trained in CMC were 44 percent less likely than a
comparison group to fail while on community supervision.102

An Antiquated Data System
The Department of Corrections maintains multiple information systems.
Developed incrementally over time, the systems are not integrated and do
not work together. Because information has to be keyed into each
system, some information is inaccurate. Errors are costly to reconcile
and can impact public safety when relied upon
by law enforcement to make decisions about
Goals for an Integrated Offender
parolees. According to one parole agent, the
Data System
most inaccurate system feeds into the Law
ü One data base
Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS),
ü One-time data entry
which is used by local law enforcement to
ü Real time information available to all
access critical information about offenders they
agencies that need it
103
encounter in the community.
ü Designed by users
In addition to being poorly integrated, CDC's
information systems are two decades old and
cannot be cost-effectively modified to meet
current needs. The technology is no longer
manufactured
or
supported
and
failing
computers strain staff resources.
As the
technology becomes more obsolete, technical
staff with the skills to repair and maintain the

31

ü
ü

Meets the needs of all system users
Serves as the platform for all future
systems development

ü

Enables data to be easily shared with
other agencies.

Source: The Utah Experience, Gae Lyn DeLand,
Director, Information Technology, Utah Department of
Corrections, August 29, 2003.

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
antiquated systems become increasingly scarce.104 Over the years, there
have been several failed attempts to acquire an integrated offender data
system that would protect public safety and help managers efficiently
run the corrections department. The box on the following page details
various efforts, including current upgrade activities and planned
projects.
In 2001-02 the department surveyed all states to learn how they
managed criminal justice data. The systems used by Florida, Utah,
Massachusetts and Delaware were believed to have the capacity to meet
California’s needs. There was broad agreement among department,
agency and legislative leaders that an integrated system was desperately
needed, but that funding was the barrier.105
In testimony to the
Commission, a senior official from the Youth and Adult Correctional
Agency acknowledged that correctional agencies lack the data to
effectively manage their programs, citing funding as the major
obstacle.106
Parole staff assert that a seamless, integrated criminal justice data
system is still the vision. But correctional officials and policy-makers
have not made the development of an adequate information system a
priority to better manage the largest prison system in the country.107
Staff in the department’s Parole and Community Services Division,
charged with implementing a prerelease program contained in the
2003-04 budget, are developing yet another information system to
manage and track outcomes for parolees. While important to the
success of the program, it is just another incremental step that may or
may not lead to a comprehensive, integrated system. In fact, they assert
that the department’s Information Services Division is not assisting in
the development of this system, but is conducting a feasibility study
regarding a different attempt to centralize data and identify what data
system the department should use. Staff describes their efforts as
working “under the radar” and necessary to develop the data they need
to manage programs and measure outcomes.108

32

USING THE EVIDENCE
CDC's Integrated Offender Information System Development Attempts
A Decade of Failed Attempts
In 1994, CDC awarded a $40 million contract to TRW to design and build an integrated Correctional
Management Informational System (CMIS). Simultaneously, CDC hired Logicon for independent quality
assurance and project oversight. In July 1995, TRW completed the analysis phase of the project and CDC
paid TRW $2 million. By 1996, TRW was well into phase two, but CDC and Logicon recognized the
second phase was incomplete, inconsistent and inaccurate. In 1997, CDC sued TRW and in 1998, the
court ordered TRW to pay CDC $18 million and awarded the intellectual property rights of the project to
CDC. At the time, CDC was in the midst of a change in leadership and the funds were diverted to fill a
budget shortfall. Y2K became a priority and the information system upgrade was shelved.
In 2000-01, CDC's chief information officer directed an informal market survey of technology solutions.
Analysis from the TRW process provided a starting point and staff from parole, institutions and health
participated in the survey. CDC researched comprehensive criminal justice information systems used in
other states and invited vendors to provide information. CDC identified various systems that could be
scaled to meet California’s needs. One is used by the Utah Department of Corrections and other states
that formed a consortium to develop and share criminal justice technology. Another is used in
Massachusetts. The staff recommended California adopt one of these systems and purchase off-the-shelf
products to resolve specific data problems.
Staff recommended to go forward with a feasibility study and a formal procurement process. But the timing
coincided with the onset of the energy crisis and the Oracle Corporation software scandal. Policy-makers
had little appetite for the perceived risks associated with new, large-scale technology projects.

Piecemeal Progress
CDC has multiple technology improvement projects in the works. CDC is consolidating 73 obsolete
database servers in parole offices throughout the state into a centralized system with a user-friendly, Webbased front end. This effort, called CalParole, will enable statewide access to shared uniform data. CDC
anticipates CalParole to be completed within a few months at a one-time cost of nearly $1.4 million dollars
and ongoing costs of $16.8 million over the next six years. Implementation and training is planned for
2004. Eventually, CalParole will feed into an integrated offender information system. While acknowledging
the CalParole upgrade is a piecemeal solution to much broader needs, staff indicated it was essential to
get the parole department off of an obsolete system immediately.
Another project, an upgrade of the inmate restitution banking and canteen system, has an approved
feasibility study, but no funding. A project to install network communications for the 32 prisons enabling email and local document management has been partially implemented.

Future Endeavors
CDC has two major projects in the planning stages, one to develop a Business Information System (BIS) to
streamline, automate and integrate the business operations of CDC, and the other, a Strategic Offender
Management System (SOMS) to integrate all offender information, from the point an inmate enters the
CDC to the time of release from parole. Both projects will be able to provide administrators and policymakers critical data on all aspects of the correctional system. CDC anticipates being able to modify
existing criminal justice systems used in other states, utilize off-the-shelf software where appropriate, and
employ a modular roll-out of the new systems to contain costs and avoid technology pitfalls. However,
both projects have major hurdles to overcome, the most critical of which is funding.
The BIS project, has a feasibility study near completion. The department plans to release requests for
proposals before the end of 2003. If funded, CDC anticipates project completion in 2005. CDC was
granted five information technology positions to begin the feasibility study for the SOMS project; staff
anticipates procurement for the system to occur in 2005, if funded, with a project completion date in 2009.
Sources: Christy Quinlan, Chief Information Officer and Wendy Still, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Corrections. Written
testimony to Assembly Select Committee on Prison Construction and Operations, August 6, 2003 and personal communication with
Christy Quinlan, September 5, 2003 and October 3, 2003. Sandra Emert, Project Management Officer, Department of Corrections,
Information Services Division, Personal communication, September 8, 2003.

33

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

Pioneering States: Florida, Georgia and Utah
Florida, Georgia and Utah are among the states using integrated data systems and automated
offender files to improve the performance of correctional programs and protect public safety.

Florida. Florida's integrated offender information management system tracks 80,000 prison inmates
and 250,000 offenders in community corrections, primarily probationers. Offender information is
entered electronically into a centralized data system as soon as a person enters the Florida
correctional system. All data, including health records, movement, programming needs, assignments
and completion data, infractions, good time credits, sentencing structure and classification are
accessible instantaneously by staff in numerous locations and departments.
Over the past two decades, the Florida Legislature and correctional agency leaders have dedicated
resources to ongoing system improvements. Each year, new applications on new generations of
software are developed, so the system stays technologically up-to-date. Virtually all data, even
though it may require access through different software platforms, is available from personal
computers throughout the correctional system.
The integrated information system enables Florida to prioritize placement of inmates in programs.
During intake, inmates are ranked based on a variety of criteria such as substance abuse problems,
education requirements, criminal history, and time remaining on a sentence. The state has
established policy priorities, and once an inmate is ranked, placement in a program cannot be
circumvented.

Georgia. Georgia developed a program to collect data to manage programs and measure
outcomes. Offender files are automated and parole agents working from laptop computers input
current parolee information, including changes in dynamic risk factors such as program participation,
employment, drug use and changes of residence. Daily data runs on each parolee generate e-mails
to parole agents if there is a change in the parolee’s assigned risk level. The information is used to
reassess and modify supervision and assistance strategies. Automation also has permitted parole
agents to work from their homes, permitting the Georgia Parole Board to close several regional
offices, resulting in $250,000 in savings during a budget crisis. Georgia’s system was developed over
two years at a cost of about $350,000.

Utah. The Utah Department of Corrections developed a single automated offender data system that
meets the needs of users at every point in the correctional system. It captures data one time, serves
as the telecommunications, hardware, and software platform for future systems and permits real time
data to be easily shared with other agencies. Limited funding required that it be developed one
module at a time, a process that proved beneficial by allowing for testing and improvements along the
way. It was designed by users to eliminate or reduce paperwork and provide outcome measures.
To augment funding for the program Utah invited other states, including Alaska, New Mexico and
Colorado, to form a consortium to share costs and co-develop system modules. Utah has allocated
about $7 million to the development of the system and estimates it has reaped about $12 million in
added value from the innovations of the other states. For example, Colorado developed the pharmacy
application while Utah and Alaska paid for the medical component, which all three states designed.
The system was built to work in other states, is available to them on a lease basis and can be
customized to meet their needs.
Source: Fred Roesel, Bureau Chief of Classification and Records, Florida Department of Corrections, Personal
Communications, September 11, 2003. The Utah Experience, Gae Lyn DeLand, Director, Information Technology, Utah
Department of Corrections, August 29, 2003. John Prevost, Georgia Parole Board, August 29, 2003.

34

USING THE EVIDENCE

Information is Knowledge
Knowledge about offenders gives policy-makers the tools to develop
effective – rather than politically “safe” – correctional policies. It permits
policy-makers and correctional administrators to establish goals for
corrections, allocate resources effectively and measure progress toward
the goals. Comprehensive and integrated offender information systems
improve program management, facilitate information sharing among
agencies and protect communities by providing accurate, real-time
information.
Information developed through structured risk and needs assessments
allows correctional administrators to distinguish among offenders who
present real risks to public safety and those who do not and to target
resources effectively – to the right offender at the right time.
Offender information is critical to:

§

Policy-making. State and local policy-makers need aggregated data
on offenders to understand the public safety risks posed by the
offender population, their needs and their likelihood of success or
failure. They need information to make good decisions about which
offenders should have the highest priority for limited resources, what
types of programs should be funded and where gaps exist.109

§

§

Information sharing. Automated offender files and integrated data
systems permit the seamless sharing of information among prisons,
parole, local law enforcement and other agencies. It provides law
enforcement with real-time information on parolees, enabling them to
determine the status and potential risk to
How PACTs Could Use Data
public
safety
of
individual
parolees.
Automation
would
expedite
parole
Parole and Correctional Teams (PACTs)
could use parolee data to target resources
revocation processing – which is often
and enhance PACT program offerings.
delayed by weeks while officials wait for
Specifically, PACTs could use data to:
paper files to catch up with offenders.
ü Develop reintegration plans
ü Develop supervision and assistance
Prisoner
preparation.
Prison
strategies
administrators need risk and needs
ü Allocate resources
assessments
to
strategically
allocate
ü Identify and address gaps in available
available education, job training, treatment
community resources
and prerelease opportunities to inmates.
ü Develop education and training
Assessments also can guide transition
programs
planning and be used to link offenders with
ü Track parolee participation in programs
critical post-release services.
ü Measure outcomes

35

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
§

Accountability Case Studies:
Washington and Oregon
Washington Offender Accountability Act
As part of its Offender Accountability Act,
Washington classifies felony offenders according
to the risk they pose to re-offending in the future,
and the amount of harm they have caused society
in the past. Washington uses the Level of
Supervision Inventory-Revised (LSI-R), a 54
question survey developed by Canadian
researchers to evaluate the risk of re-offending.
The tool permits the department of corrections to
target more resources to higher-risk offenders
and spend fewer dollars on lower-risk offenders.
Washington also uses risk assessment in the
prison system to link inmates with post-release
services. An initial evaluation based on 24
months of offender post-release data suggests
that the LSI-R “…provides a reasonable way to
measure an offender’s likelihood of re-conviction."

Oregon Accountability Model
Oregon uses offender information developed
through risk assessments to develop individual,
automated case plans for every offender that
focus on mitigating the risk factors and returning
offenders to the community as productive, prosocial citizens. The plans “travel” with inmates
during their entire incarceration and into the
community while they are on supervision. The
plans identify needed activities and interventions
and are used to hold inmates accountable for
carrying out the activities.
Source: Peggy Smith, Washington State Department of
Corrections, Personal communications. July 29,2003.
Washington State Institute for Public Policy. "Washington's
Offender Accountability Act: Update and Progress Report on
the Act's Evaluation. January 2003. The Oregon
Accountability Model: Criminal Risk Factor and Case Planning
Component. http://www.doc.state.or.us

Parolee reintegration. Parole officials need

information derived from risk and needs
assessments to classify parolees based on the
threat they pose to public safety, develop
supervision and service strategies aligned with
their needs and measure progress toward
identified goals. With reliable information, more
resources can be targeted to higher-risk
offenders while fewer resources can safely be
spent on lower-risk offenders.
Assessments
provide local law enforcement and other
community agencies with information to guide
decisions about monitoring and services for
returning offenders.

§

Revocation
decision-making.
Risk
assessment could generate immediate costsavings if it were used in making parole
revocation decisions.
Assessments permit
officials to identify those offenders who require a
return to prison to protect public safety and
those who could safely receive a less costly
sanction. If California reduced its return-tocustody rate by 20 percent for non-serious,
non-violent parole violators, correctional costs
could be cut $71 million.110
§

Accountability. Data can be used to hold
policy-makers,
correctional
officials
and
offenders
accountable
for
improvements.
Information widely shared permits the public to
hold
policy-makers
and
correctional
administrators accountable for establishing and
funding parole policies aligned with the goals of
public safety and reintegration.
In turn,
offenders can be held accountable for taking
advantage of available opportunities.

36

USING THE EVIDENCE

Advancing the Development and Use of Data
Without persistent champions for using information to improve the
performance of public programs, policy-makers and program
administrators do not invest the will or resources to develop and use
critical data. For example, the Little Hoover Commission advocated for
the use of existing data to improve the State’s response to mentally ill
offenders. It brokered an agreement to query the mental health and
criminal justice databases to better understand how mental health
clients become involved with the criminal justice system. The data
match will inform recommendations to prevent crime, reduce costs and
improve community care for people with mental health needs.
Preliminary data suggests that 40 percent of mental health clients
sampled have a criminal justice record.
Where information needs have been successfully addressed, a venue has
been created for stakeholders to come together to champion the
development and effective use of data. California’s child welfare leaders
and community activists joined forces to harness data to promote reform,
improved decision-making and accountability. Education reforms in
California and across the nation have largely been driven by data that
show where progress is being made and where additional effort is
warranted.
To effectively use offender information, a venue is needed to bring
together the people who produce the data with those who use it to
supervise and provide programs for offenders.
State correctional
officials, local law enforcement leaders and criminal justice experts could
work together – formally or informally – to create and sustain the
expectation for information, overcome barriers to obtaining it and ensure
that it is used effectively to craft policies, manage programs and measure
progress.
As Californians grapple with an unprecedented budget crisis and the
costs associated with the State’s parole revocation policies, offender
information should be developed and used to guide the Legislature and
Governor in developing cost-effective reforms focused on public safety
and parolee reintegration. It should be used to make decisions about
how to intervene with offenders from the day that they enter prison until
they have successfully reintegrated into the community.

37

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
Recommendation 1: To protect the public, the correctional system must use
proven strategies to prepare inmates for release, supervise and assist parolees in
California communities, and intervene when parolees fail. The State should
create the means to improve the performance of the correctional system by
changing laws, budgets and programs to increase success among parolees.
Specifically, the State should:
Board of Corrections
The Board of Corrections – comprised of
state and local correctional officials and
members of the public – is well suited to
assume these responsibilities and could do
so without growing the bureaucracy. The
board is charged with assisting county
sheriffs, chief probation officers, other local
officials and community-based service
providers to improve the delivery of
correctional programs. That function could
be enhanced by giving the board the
responsibility and authority for improving
outcomes for offenders across the
correctional continuum – from jails to prison
and back to the community.

q Use evidence to guide policy reforms. The
Board of Corrections should routinely evaluate
the outcomes of the correctional system and
identify evidence-based ways to improve those
outcomes, beginning with the use of offender risk
and needs assessments and performance
measures. It should annually assess the risks
and needs of offenders in prison and on parole,
evaluate the programs that offenders received to
reduce future crime, and compare the outcomes
for offenders in California with offenders in other
states. The board annually should recommend
statutory changes, budget priorities and resource
allocations that would improve public safety.

q Use evidence to guide decision-making. Offender information
should be used to guide decision-making at every point in the
correctional continuum. Specifically:
ü Offender risk and needs assessments should be used to better
allocate resources including prison education, job training and
drug treatment programs, parole supervision and assistance
resources, and to make parole revocation decisions.
ü County sheriffs and other agencies should receive assessments in
advance of an inmate’s release, as well as documentation of what
programs and services the inmate received in prison, how the
services related to the inmate’s assessment and the outcomes.
ü Releasing prisoners should receive their assessments to assist in
their reintegration and help hold them accountable for pursuing
the services that could reduce their chances of re-offending.
q Automate offender information.
The State should make the
automation of offender files and integration of the Department of
Corrections data systems a priority. Efficiencies that result from
automation and integration and savings from reforms suggested in
the following recommendations could offset the costs

38

BEFORE THEY COME HOME

Before They Come Home
Finding 2: The State’s failure to use prison time to prepare offenders for release
jeopardizes public safety and squanders public resources.
With 70 percent of parolees returning to custody, incarceration alone is
only providing limited protection to communities.
By focusing
exclusively on punishment, offenders do not receive the educational,
vocational or treatment interventions that have been proven to reduce
recidivism and cut costs to the correctional system. Prisoners spend an
average of 19 months behind bars, time that could be used to obtain a
General Educational Development (GED) diploma, gain a marketable job
skill or kick a drug habit. 111
Programs within CDC institutions to help inmates get a job, stay sober
and successfully reunite with their families and communities upon
release are limited, unevenly available and not targeted to offenders who
upon release present the greatest risks to public safety. Often, they are
managed in ways that limit their effectiveness. When released,
10 percent of parolees are homeless, half are illiterate, 70 to 80 percent
are unemployed and as many as 80 percent abuse drugs. In large urban
areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco,
homelessness approaches 30 to 50 percent.112
Primary Purpose of Imprisonment
Half the parolees in Sacramento use Loaves
Indeterminate Sentencing Law of 1917:
and Fishes, a local non-profit organization
The theory behind indeterminate sentencing
providing food and services to the homeless, as
laws, as explained by the California Supreme
their address.113
Court, was that "these laws…seek to make the
punishment fit the criminal rather than the
To improve public safety, state prisons must
crime. They endeavor to put before the
prisoner great incentive to well-doing…the
prepare inmates for release, as well as punish
purpose is to strengthen his will to do right and
them. The State also should provide fiscal and
lessen his temptation to do wrong."
other incentives for communities to provide
Uniform Determinate Sentencing Act of
services and prerelease planning for inmates.
1976:

A Focus on Punishment
With the enactment of determinate sentencing,
punishment explicitly replaced rehabilitation
as the primary purpose of incarceration. This
change also resulted in a steady decline in the
incentives for inmates to participate in
programs that could reduce their chances of
re-offending. Under indeterminate sentencing,
inmates received a minimum and maximum
number of years and knew that their release

39

The Legislature finds and declares that the
purpose of imprisonment for crime is
punishment. This purpose is best served by
terms proportionate to the seriousness of the
offense with provision for uniformity in the
sentences of offenders committing the same
offense under similar circumstances…(This)
can best be achieved by determinate
sentences fixed by statute in proportion to the
seriousness of the offense.
Source: In re Lee, 177 Cal. 690, 692-3, (1918). California
Penal Code 1170.

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
was predicated on their ability to demonstrate to the parole board that
they had improved themselves through education, job training or
counseling and had plans for a job and housing upon release. Under
determinate sentencing, inmates know that they will be released on a
given date, whether or not they have improved themselves or have lined
up employment or housing.
In more recent years, a series of lawsuits and shifts in legislative
sentiment have revived interest in rehabilitation.
By 1993, court
citations were acknowledging the “importance” of rehabilitating
inmates.114 In 1995, the legislature inserted language into the Penal
Code acknowledging the importance of rehabilitation in prison programs,
but limiting it to first-time, nonviolent offenders.115 The box on the
following page describes some of the legislation and court rulings that
have mandated programs for certain inmates.
Prisons offer a variety of educational, vocational and treatment programs.
A box in the background describes the programs, the numbers of
inmates served, and the funding. In general, inmates are rewarded for
participation in the programs with a day-for-day credit off their prison
sentence. Inmates in administrative segregation and security housing
units are not eligible for these programs.
Historically inmates in
reception centers have been ineligible, but the department is planning to
provide those inmates with educational programs.

A Culture of Punishment Thwarts Preparation
Despite the benefits of addressing the causes of criminal behavior, a
culture of punishment within prisons stymies efforts to prepare inmates
for their return to their communities as productive, law-abiding citizens.
Most prison administrators have endorsed a “confinement model”
described as “keep them in, keep them safe, and keep them in line.”116
With no responsibility for inmates after their release, many prison
administrators have resisted or undermined efforts to expand
programming.
The Commission reported in 1998 that the primary
reason only a small percentage of inmates participate in programs is the
fundamental belief of correctional officials that the behavior of most
inmates cannot be changed. 117 Among the specific consequences of
punishment-focused prisons:

1.

Most inmates receive no programming. Nearly 20 percent of

all inmates have no assignment to a correctional program during their
entire incarceration.118 Only a fraction of inmates potentially eligible for
prison programs actually participate in them. Participation rates ranged
from a low of 163 inmates for the Joint Venture Program to a high of

40

BEFORE THEY COME HOME
32,802 for re-entry programs. Waiting lists are long for most programs
and many inmates never gain access.119
Education programs comprise less than 1 percent of the CDC budget for
institutions, and educational and vocational programs are the first to be
cut in tight budget times.120 CDC educator positions have been reduced
from a high of 1,800 to 1,250.121
The 2003-04 Budget Act cut
$37.4 million from the $200 million previ ously allocated to academic and

Legislation and Court Rulings
Rehabilitation for Nonviolent First-Time Offenders
Penal Code 1170.2, (which states that the purpose of imprisonment for crime is punishment) "shall not
be construed to preclude programs, including educational programs that are designed to rehabilitate
nonviolent, first-time offenders. The Legislature encourages the development of policies and
programs designed to educate and rehabilitate nonviolent, first-time felony offenders consistent with
the purpose of imprisonment."

The Prison Literacy Act
Penal Code 2053: "The Legislature finds and declares that there is a correlation between prisoners
who are functionally literate and those who successfully reintegrate into society upon release. It is
therefore the intent of the Legislature, in enacting "The Prisoner Literacy Act," to raise the percentage
of prisoners who are functionally literate, in order to provide for a corresponding reduction in the
recidivism rate….The director of the Department of Corrections shall implement in every state prison
literacy programs that are designed to ensure that upon parole inmates are able to achieve a ninthgrade reading level. The department shall…make the program available to at least 60 percent of
eligible inmates in the state prison system by January 1, 1996."

Legal Rights of Mentally Ill Offenders
Mentally ill state prisoners filed a class action suit against the governor and the directors of the state
penal system, claiming that the severe lack of mental health care and certain policies and procedures
for handling mentally ill inmates violated their rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The matter went to a magistrate, who found that the governor and the directors had engaged in
deliberate indifference to the prisoners' rights. He issued a comprehensive report with extensive
recommendations for the establishment of corrective policies and procedures. The governor and the
directors objected to the findings and recommendations and the matter went before a U.S. district
court. The district court accepted, with modifications, the findings and recommendations, specifically
that the governor and the directors were deliberately indifferent to the rights of the mentally ill state
prisoners and such indifference violated their rights. The court appointed a special master to oversee
the implementation of required policies and procedures. (Coleman v. Wilson, 912 F. Supp. 1282,
1995 U.S. District Court)

Rights of Prisoners and Parolees with Disabilities
A U.S. district court found the Board of Prison Terms to have violated the rights of prisoners and
parolees with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act during parole proceedings
conducted by the BPT. The court ordered an injunction requiring BPT to provide accommodations to
prisoners and parolees at all parole proceedings. (Armstrong, et. al. v. Davis, et. al, Permanent
Injunction December 23, 1999)

Rights of Prisoners with Developmental Disabilities
After extensive discovery in a class action lawsuit, prison officials agreed to develop and implement a
plan to screen inmates for developmental disabilities and to provide developmentally disabled inmates
th
with safe housing and supportive services. (Clark vs. California, 123 F.3d 1267, 9 Circuit 1997)
Sources: In addition to the court documents listed above, The Prison Law Office Web site,
http://www.prisonlaw.com/achievements.htm, provides additional cases and links to some of proceedings described above.

41

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
vocational programs; however, $10.9 million was restored and an
additional $10 million was added to establish education programs in
reception centers.122
Programs also are often suspended for security reasons.
lockdowns can shut down prison programs for months.

Prison

CDC has a history of
unsuccessfully implementing the few educational, vocational and
treatment programs that do exist. For example, a recent evaluation
concluded that the effectiveness of the department’s substance abuse
program was compromised by the way it was managed. UCLA evaluators
concluded that CDC was not faithfully replicating a pilot project that
significantly reduced recidivism rates and had structured the contracting
process to award contracts based on the
lowest bid rather than the quality of
What Works
treatment.123 In its 1994 report on California
Researchers have identified a number of
prisons the Commission concluded that CDC
programs that when faithfully replicated
educational
programs
were
neglected,
reduce recidivism. Research by University of
unfocused and poorly structured. Little has
Maryland criminologists examining the
effectiveness of correctional programs
changed in nearly a decade.
offered in Washington State identified
successful and promising programs.
3. Resources are diverted. The department
What Works:
routinely and openly diverts resources
ü In-prison Therapeutic Communities with
intended for educational programs to fund
Follow-up Community Treatment
other operations. During the 2000-01 fiscal
ü Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Moral
year, the department froze spending on
Reconation Therapy and Reasoning and
educational supplies to divert all available
Rehabilitation
resources to the department’s operational
ü Non-Prison-Based Sex Offender
deficit. Even before the fiscal crisis, vacancies
Treatment Programs
in teaching positions were left unfilled to
ü Vocational Education Programs
capture and divert salary savings.124
In
ü Multi-Component Correctional Industry
response
to
the
State’s
current
budget
crisis,
Programs
the department placed prisons on lockdown to
ü Community Employment Programs
save overtime costs – again suspending
What's Promising:
programming.125
ü Prison-Based Sex Offender Treatment
ü Adult Basic Education

2. Programs are poorly implemented.

ü

Transitional Programs Providing
Individualized Employment Preparation
and Services for High-Risk Offenders

Source: Doris Layton MacKenzie and Laura J.
Hickman. "What Works in Corrections? An
Examination of the Effectiveness of the Type of
Rehabilitation Programs Offered By Washington State
Department of Corrections. June 1998.

4. Expansion opportunities are not
pursued.
Even when the department

acknowledges
the
need
for
additional
resources
for
programs,
it
does
not
aggressively pursue opportunities to use state
resources, tap grants or make use of
community-based
organizations
and
volunteers.

42

BEFORE THEY COME HOME
5. Inmates are not held accountable. When programs are available,
inmates are not held accountable for participating in activities that could
keep them from re-offending. For the most part, participation in prison
education, work, and treatment programs is voluntary and the current
incentives are not structured to maximize public safety. Inmates who
have not achieved a 9th grade reading level as required by the Prison
Literacy Act are often given work assignments – precluding their
participation in educational programs. Most work assignments involve
maintaining the institution and provide few skills that are marketable
outside the prison walls.

6. Correctional officials are not held
accountable.
The department does not
routinely or publicly report participation in
programs that prepare inmates for release.
Moreover, prison administrators are not held
accountable for implementing statutory or
court-ordered programs or for outcomes like
recidivism, or for the re-arrest or employment
rates of inmates exiting their institutions. As a
result, there is no external pressure to increase
and improve programs that could reduce crime
by parolees and prison costs.

7.

Highest-risk

inmates

are

excluded.

Researchers consistently conclude that the
greatest public safety benefits come from
focusing
programs
on
the
highest-risk
offenders. But CDC excludes from programs
inmates who are in reception centers awaiting
parole revocation hearings, even though they
were returned to prison as a public safety risk
and will be released in a matter of months. (As
described in the Background, the 2003-04
Budget Act requires CDC to develop a plan for
providing education programs in reception
centers.) CDC also excludes those in security
housing and administrative segregation units.
These inmates are deemed to pose a significant
security threat to staff, yet in 2002, 414 inmates
were released almost directly from security
housing units with little, if any preparation or
planning for their release to the street.126

43

Officer's Union Thwarts Efforts to
Help Inmates Succeed
The 31,000 member strong California
Correctional Peace Officers Association
actively worked to shut down programs at
two rural prisons designed to help inmates
earn community college degrees. The local
union chapter demanded the wardens shut
down the programs, outraged that a
community college would provide statefunded education to inmates. A memo to
union members urged a boycott of all prisonbacked fundraisers, blood drives, picnics and
other functions until the program was
cancelled.
One warden told the Commission that
correctional officers are threatened by
inmates who may become more educated
than the officers - who are only required to
have a high school education. Another
official asserts the stance stems from a
mentality of "meanness" and "retribution"
among correctional officers.
The union succeeded in shutting down one
of the programs, only to see it resurrected six
months later. The warden at the second
facility refused to cancel the program and
has since been awarded a pilot program to
study the program’s effect on recidivism and
decreased disciplinary actions.
Sources: Jenifer Warren, Los Angeles Times, " Union
Targets Inmates' College Program," May 10, 2003. Rick
Babb, Community Resources Manager, Ironwood State
Prison, August 22, 2003. Jeanne Woodford, Warden
and Vernell Crittendon, Public Information Officer,
San Quentin State Prison, August 21, 2003.

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

Education is Rehabilitation
Research shows that the State should use the time offenders are in prison to try to
change their behavior. Adult offenders are severely undereducated. Nineteen
percent of adult inmates are completely illiterate and 40 percent are functionally
illiterate, meaning they would be unable, for example, to prepare for a written driver’s
test without assistance. By comparison, the national illiteracy rate for all adults is 4
percent, with 21 percent functionally illiterate. Nationwide, over 70 percent of all
people entering state correctional facilities have not completed high school.
One of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted on the impact of correctional
education on recidivism found that inmates who participated in education programs
had a 29 percent reduction in re-incarceration rates and also earned higher wages
than those who did not participate in education programs. The three-state study
found that annually for every dollar spent on education more than two dollars are
saved on food and cell space alone. "Education provides a real payoff to the public in
terms of crime reduction and improved employment of ex-offenders. Investments in
correctional education programs have been confirmed as a wise and informed public
policy."
ü

The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports an inverse relationship between recidivism
rates and education – the more education offender receive, the less likely they
are to be re-arrested or re-imprisoned.

ü

A five-year follow-up study conducted by the Arizona Department of Adult
Probation concluded that probationers who received literacy training had a
significantly lower re-arrest rate (35 percent) than the control group (46 percent),
and those who received GED education had a re-arrest rate of 24 percent,
compared to the control group’s rate of 46 percent.

ü

Inmates with at least two years of college education have a 10 percent re-arrest
rate, compared to a national re-arrest rate of approximately 60 percent.

ü

Individuals who receive higher education while incarcerated have a significantly
better rate of employment (60 to 75 percent) than those who do not participate in
college programs – 40 percent.

Source: Open Society Institute, Criminal Justice Initiative. "Education as Crime Prevention," Research
Brief, Occasional Paper Series - No. 2. September 1997. www.soros.org. Accessed September 12, 2003.

44

BEFORE THEY COME HOME
Promising Practices: Ironwood State Prison Community College Program
An innovative collaboration between Ironwood State Prison and Palo Verde Community College in
Blythe, provides inmates the opportunity to earn an associate of arts degree through distance
learning. The program began in the spring of 2001 with approximately 50 inmates. By fall 2003, the
program had expanded to nearly 300 inmates enrolled in courses ranging from basic math and
English to accounting and sociology. To date, some 40 inmates have graduated.
The program is run at no cost to CDC. Most inmates participate through the Palo Verde Extended
Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS) and receive Board of Governor's grants available to all
low-income Californians. EOPS helps pay for textbooks and student counseling services and the
grant covers fees. Inmates recycle books and calculators, reducing EOPS costs. The community
college pays for proctors, typically off-duty prison educators, to distribute coursework and oversee
exams.
To participate, inmates must be free of any disciplinary infraction for 12 months and must be eligible
for parole. Courses are offered on a first-come first-serve basis and there are approximately 600
inmates on a waiting list. The EOPS program rules require that all participants maintain a course load
of 12 units. Initially, all Ironwood participants were working full-time in addition to carrying the full
course load. To succeed, inmates were viewing the videos in the wee hours of the morning and
cracking the books and completing their coursework during their limited free time.
Student inmates watch videotaped classes on the closed circuit prison television system broadcast
into their cells. Televisions are purchased by the inmates or their families. Written communication is
exchanged between the inmates and the instructors through a courier service. Instructors and
counselors meet with the students in person about once a semester. State law prohibits community
college instructors from teaching inside prisons, although the law allows this type of instruction in jails
and federal prisons. According to college officials, the inmates have higher grade point averages than
the students participating in traditional classrooms and complete more course units.
The prison, the college and the surrounding community all have benefited from the program. For
Ironwood the goal is two-fold: reduce recidivism and decrease disciplinary actions, and as a result,
reduce crime and lower costs. Correctional officials at Ironwood project cost savings for the prison of
$8 million annually if even a small portion of program participants do not return to prison after their
release. In addition, the program has decreased disciplinary incidents in the prison, which often
create expensive overtime costs. Additionally, those involved with the program have seen racial and
gang barriers eliminated among student inmates.
For Palo Verde and Blythe, the inmate program has expanded courses and instructors. The distance
learning program would not have been possible without the critical mass of students the prison
provides. Residents who have difficulty attending traditional courses due to work schedules,
disabilities or travel challenges are able to enroll in coursework that previously did not exist. The
prison and the community college designed the inmate program to ensure that enough enrollment
slots were set aside in each course for community members so that law-abiding citizens would have
equal access to the courses.
Currently, the only other state prison offering the community college program is Chuckawalla Valley,
also located in Blythe. The program was suspended in spring 2003 due to pressure from the
correctional officer's union, but restarted in fall 2003 with approximately 50 inmates enrolled. San
Quentin State Prison also offers college coursework at no cost to the state through a private
university. The Inmate Correctional Education Project, an all volunteer, non-profit organization
sponsors 50 inmates in six colleges who are enrolled in college-level correspondence courses.
In fall 2003, CDC established a pilot program for Ironwood to track recidivism rates and disciplinary
savings from the program. If the program proves successful in reducing crime and saving money,
CDC has indicated a willingness to expand the program to other prisons. Ironwood officials estimate
that if the program were implemented statewide, the State could save hundreds of millions.
Sources: Jim Hottois, Superintendent/President, Eric Eikenberry, Interim Associate Dean of Extended and Noncredit Programs,
and Pat Koester, EOPS Director/Counselor, Palo Verde Community College. Rick Babb, Community Resources Manager,
Ironwood State Prison. Personal and written communication, August 2003. California Code of Regulations, Section 58051.6.
Stephen Green, Assistant Secretary, Youth and Adult Correctional Agency. Los Angeles Times, Editorial Page, May 16, 2003.

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

Changing the Prison Culture
An ex-convict who runs prerelease programs in several states said:
“Preparing inmates for the free world is frequently treated as an isolated,
second-class function, rather than as a vital mid-step in an ongoing
process. Administratively, the function is often viewed as low priority, a
shallow institutional ‘afterthought’ of little importance.”127
Refocusing prisons on quality education, treatment and work programs
will require redefining the responsibilities of prison administrators,
inmates and communities.

Prison administrators. The notion that prison administrators should
accept prisoner reintegration as a core responsibility has been
controversial and met with resistance in California and many other
states.128
Criminologist Joan Petersilia points out that truth-insentencing and other determinate sentencing schemes provide an
opportunity for prison administrators facing budget cuts to refocus

Drugs in Prison
CDC acknowledges that illicit drugs are available in prisons, and has asserted it would be impossible
to halt the drug flow without putting prisons "under glass" – allowing inmates no contact with anyone
from outside the prison walls. A number of other states, however, have successfully adopted "no
tolerance" policies toward drugs in prison.
Correctional experts across the country say drugs enter prisons two ways: from outsiders who
smuggle drugs to prisoners and from prison guards who deal drugs to inmates. Several states
conduct regular drug tests of both guards and inmates and impose sanctions on those who test
positive.
Alabama, for example, tests 10 percent of the prison population and randomly tests prison staff,
including wardens. Inmates who test positive are sent to substance abuse programs or to a higher
level of custody; staff who test positive are automatically dismissed. State correctional officials report
that between 1 and 4 percent of the drug tests come up positive. Ohio, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire and North Carolina also have no tolerance drug testing policies in place.
The federal Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth in Sentencing Program required states to
implement inmate drug testing policies by September 1, 1998 or lose federal prison construction grant
funds. CDC said that it does not have an explicit “no tolerance” for drugs policy and could not provide
written drug testing policies for inmates or staff. It did describe four areas of inmate drug testing,
including: before and after family visits or temporary release to the community; for inmates found guilty
of drug offenses in prison; when an inmate is suspected of drug use; and, for civil addict inmates and
those in drug treatment programs.
Under a collective bargaining agreement, the department drug tests correctional staff hired after
April 1998. In June 2003, the department began random drug testing of managers and supervisors.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, once 20 percent of managers and supervisors are tested,
the correctional officer’s union is to renegotiate with the administration regarding testing of all
correctional staff. When staff tests positive for drugs, it is up to the prison warden at each institution
to initiate disciplinary action.
Federal transportation law also requires prison bus drivers to be tested for drug use. The state
Department of Personnel Administration administers drug testing of CDC transportation personnel.
Source: Little Hoover Commission. "Beyond Bars: Correctional Reforms to Lower Prison Costs and Reduce Crime." January
1998; Lieutenant Michelle Ortega, CDC, October 7, 2003; Paul Mize, CDC, October 7, 2003, Daryl Brown, CDC,
October 27, 2003.

46

BEFORE THEY COME HOME
resources and programs on release services. Knowing when an inmate
will be released permits more targeted prerelease planning.129
Moreover, if the job performance of prison wardens was gauged, in part,
by the success of their inmates in gaining employment, housing and
remaining arrest free, the availability and quality of in-prison programs
would improve. As one former prison warden asserted: “The only time
wardens are held accountable is if a staff member is killed.”130
San Quentin Warden Jeanne Woodford said that wardens should be
evaluated in part on community involvement in the prison.131 Similarly,
the New York Police Department in the 1990s reduced crime dramatically
by rigorously analyzing crime data and making local commanders
responsible for public safety in their jurisdictions.132
There is a mechanism to critique prison education programs and
recommend improvements. In 1980 the Legislature created an advisory
committee of mostly educators to review educational programs in
individual prisons. The committee strives to visit six prisons a year, but
is dependent on funding from CDC, which can be cut to meet other
needs.
The committee has not conducted any reviews since
January 2003 when the department cut off funding. The volunteer
committee made recommendations for system-wide improvements to the
director in 2001, but those have not been implemented.
The
recommendations addressed class size, the diversion of educational
funds for other purposes and teacher preparation.133
Extending the oversight role of the committee to include vocational
training and substance abuse treatment programs could improve the
availability and quality of programs critical to the post-prison success of
offenders.
To ensure its recommendations are given serious
consideration, the committee could report its findings to the department,
the agency secretary, the Governor and the Legislature, and to individual
prison administrators. Modest, stable funding for travel expenses and a
small staff to organize meetings, gather information, write reports and
track progress would improve the committee's effectiveness.

Inmates. Inmates also should be held accountable to pursue available
opportunities to improve themselves. Under the current system, the goal
of inmates is to serve their time. Incentives are focused on good behavior
in prison, not improvements to reduce the chances of failure on parole.
From the day an offender enters prison, Oregon focuses on returning
inmates to the community as productive, law-abiding citizens. As part of
the Oregon Accountability Model, the Oregon Department of Corrections
targets services to mitigate inmate risk factors identified through

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
structured assessments. While the department makes the programs
available, inmates are responsible for carrying out activities in their
individual correctional plans. The Performance Recognition and Award
System uses monetary and other incentives to encourage inmates to
perform well in work assignments and programs addressing their
criminal thinking, education and training needs, substance abuse
problems and other contributors to their criminal behavior.134
To hold inmates accountable for improvement, the
programs must be available. The reforms recommended in this report
would decrease the number of returning parolees and generate savings,
which could support the expansion of programs to further reduce
recidivism. Even with existing resources, opportunities to improve
programs exist, particularly if the State partners with communities.

Communities.

California’s communities bear the brunt of the consequences – in lives
lost and neighborhoods harmed – when parolees fail. Cities like Oakland
and Los Angeles are watching their crime rates increase after more than
a decade of decline.135 They attribute the problems, in part, to large
numbers of parolees who exit prison uneducated, unskilled and unable
to succeed in the community. In Oakland, one of every 14 adult males is
on parole or probation.136
Oakland officials report that parolees
perpetrate 50 percent of the crime in their city and have decided to step
in where the State is failing to adequately prepare inmates.137

Faith-based Organizations at San Quentin Prison
Five chaplains and a Native American spiritual leader each spend a minimum of three days a week
ministering to inmates at San Quentin Prison. Chaplains include a Buddhist Monk, Jewish Rabbi,
Islamic Imam, Catholic Priest and Protestant Chaplain. Each has their own place of worship on the
prison grounds. Additionally, 1,500 volunteers provide “cell ministry” to inmates who cannot leave their
cells. Approximately 60 percent of the inmates participate in religious programs.
Prison staff attribute the deep and diverse involvement of faith-based organizations to the leadership
of the warden and commitment of staff, who recognize the value it brings to the institution, the inmates
and the community.
Staff report that the religious activities help to instill in inmates morals, values and contribute to
behavioral changes that are critical to their success as parolees and the safety of the community. As
one official described the dynamic: “Same mind, same results; changed mind, changed results.”
The religious programs also reach out to the children and families of offenders by assisting them both
spiritually and practically during the incarceration and when prisoners return home. The Protestant
chaplain hosts an annual camp for the children of offenders and the prison conducts an annual
Christmas toy drive for the children with the support of all the religious organizations. Finally, the
religious organizations build and link releasing prisoners and their families with support systems and
services in the community -- all at no cost to the State.
Source: Vernell Crittendon, Public Information Officer, San Quentin Prison, October 2, 2003.

48

BEFORE THEY COME HOME
Oakland is conducting prerelease planning and providing educational,
vocational and other needed services to inmates slated to return to
Oakland, paid for with a grant from the federal Serious and Violent
Offender Reentry Initiative. The city and its community partners are
targeting high-risk male offenders in CDC and California Youth Authority
facilities near Oakland. Re-entry planning and services will begin six to
12 months prior to release, followed by intense post-release supervision.
Los Angeles also received a federal grant. The Going Home Los Angeles
Program received $2 million to target serious and violent offenders with
histories of substance abuse and mental illness. The program includes
six to 12 months of prerelease services followed by intensive case
management while offenders are on parole. The program coordinates
transition planning among substance abuse, parole, health care, mental
health and community-based service systems to serve offenders and their
families.
Administrators hope that positive results will overcome the
reluctance of some community organizations to work with offenders.
Law enforcement leaders from Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego
testified they would house and prepare inmates for release in the last
months of their sentence if they were provided with the resources and
could identify offenders most amenable to services. Similarly, they would
house and provide programs for selected parole violators.

Making the Most of Available Resources
Prison administrators could expand reentry efforts using existing
resources by partnering with community agencies, including community
colleges, workforce investment boards, faith-based organizations, and
others to provide services. Regional strategies could be developed where
prisons are not close to communities. Among the opportunities:

§

Academic programs.

§

Vocational programs. Community colleges could provide vocational

Academic programs could be significantly
expanded if prisons developed partnerships with local and state
education systems and creatively tapped public and private resources
to provide adult education services. Volunteers could be recruited
from the community to tutor inmates, while inmates who have or
achieve literacy could provide peer tutoring.

education and partner with community businesses that need workers
skilled in specific trades. Classroom and hands-on learning could
begin in prison, linked to apprenticeships and jobs in the community.
Staff in the newly established prerelease program and PACTs could
facilitate the links between the prison and the community.

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
§

Drug treatment programs. Current law permits non-violent inmates
to be placed in a community treatment program for the last 120 days
before release. Also, the 2003-04 Budget Act estimates that drug
treatment furloughs in secure, supervised, community residential
drug treatment programs for the final 120 days of some inmate’s
sentences could generate savings of $20 million and $44 million
respectively in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 fiscal years.138 To be
implemented on a meaningful scale, the State should creatively and
aggressively explore with communities ways to site residential
facilities and contract with quality providers.

§

Officials from CDC and the California
Department of Forestry say that the biggest barrier to expansion of
the program – which has 2,000 inmates on the waiting list – is
funding to build additional facilities. The department could expand
existing facilities at a lower cost than building new ones. It could
partner with communities to develop additional camps or identify
existing facilities, such as closed military bases, that could
accommodate inmates and provide services needed by communities.
(CDC jointly administers five camps with Los Angeles County.)

Conservation camps.

But the program also has one of the highest recidivism rates because
many of the participants are drug abusers who receive no treatment
in the program and quickly re-offend once they are released. To
reduce recidivism and costs, drug treatment could be mandatory for
addicted inmates and delivered by community providers. Savings
from reduced recidivism could pay for substance abuse treatment
and other programs to prepare inmates for release.
A former
California Conservation Corps official said that CDC is merely
running a fire service and misses numerous teachable moments to
prepare inmates for release, including education, life skills and
counseling.139
The State, correctional administrators and communities should do more
to expand access to prison programs and target existing resources to
inmates who are approaching their release date and pose the greatest
risks to public safety. Prison officials should be held accountable for
preparing inmates for release and developing partnerships with
communities to expand access to programs. And inmates should be held
accountable for pursuing available opportunities to improve themselves.

50

BEFORE THEY COME HOME
Recommendation 2: To increase public safety, state and local correctional
agencies, community organizations and the inmates themselves should prepare
for the predictable release of inmates from prison.
q To focus prisons on preparing inmates, wardens should develop
and implement comprehensive preparation programs. They
should:
ü
ü

ü

ü

Identify state and local resources available for prerelease
programs.
Develop a strategy for expanding and
Improve Accountability
operating programs based on a risk and
If the success of wardens was linked with the
needs assessments of inmates, and submit
success of inmates exiting their prisons, the
those
plans
to
the
Governor
and
quantity and quality of programs would be
Legislature.
improved. Wardens should be appointed to
fixed, four-year terms with reappointment
Annually report on the participation of
and reconfirmation by the Senate determined
inmates in education, work and treatment
by an evaluation of their success, based on
programs and the employment and rethe safe operation of prisons and outcomes
arrest rates of parolees.
related to inmate preparation.
Provide
information
to
local
law
enforcement on the programming provided
to individual inmates prior to their release.

q To motivate inmates to prepare for parole, the State should
restructure “good time” credits and provide other incentives.
Among them:
ü
ü

ü
ü

Link credits toward early release to completion of education and
job training programs, as well as plans for a job and housing.
Require inmates to make progress toward educational or drug
treatment goals before becoming eligible for
work assignments.
Invest in Cost-effective Drug
Provide programs and allow inmates to earn
Treatment Strategies
credits in reception centers.
Assignment to drug treatment programs
The State should consider denying the early
should be based on a needs and risk
release of some inmates who have earned
assessment and be mandatory for the
early release credits but are deemed
highest risk inmates. Drug treatment should
unprepared for release, as described in the
be available in conservation camps and
box on the following page. The Commission
camp inmates with a history of drug abuse
should be required to participate in drug
recommends starting with parole violators
treatment.
who have been returned to custody.

q To improve the transition of parolees, the State should build

strong partnerships with communities.
should:
ü

Specifically, the State

Fully support re-entry units established in the 2003-04 Budget
Act and partner with local law enforcement and community

51

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

ü

ü

providers to link inmates with jobs, housing, drug treatment and
other support prior to their release.
Contract with county sheriffs who are willing to house inmates
during the final months of their sentence and prepare them for
release. The State should provide to the counties funding equal to
the cost of incarceration in prisons. Sheriffs should select the
inmates most amenable to their services, based on a needs and
risk assessment.
Work with communities to establish halfway houses, drug
treatment facilities and other residential settings in appropriate
locations for those parolees who need that support to stay out of
trouble and out of prison.

q To improve outcomes and accountability, the State should
provide correctional officials with technical assistance and
independent evaluation.
ü

ü

The Advisory Committee on Correctional Education should be
fortified, expanded and given specific responsibility for advising
state and local correctional administrators on ways to expand the
quantity and quality of educational, vocational and treatment
programs. The committee could report its recommendations for
improvements on a prison-by-prison basis to the department
director, agency secretary, Legislature and Governor.
The Inspector General should annually report on the progress of
individual prisons and the department overall in expanding and
effectively managing educational, vocational, prerelease and
treatment programs.

To Safeguard Communities and Motivate Inmates
to Improve Themselves
Some inmates may do a better job of preparing themselves for release if the
consequences for failure to do so were greater. The State could create a process to
deny early release credits to some inmates as a way to motivate them to prepare for
their return to the community. Among the alternatives:
Alternative I: The Board of Prison Terms could deny the early release of all inmates
who have earned early release credits but are deemed by the board to be unprepared
for release.
Alternative II: The Board of Prison Terms could deny the early release of all first
release inmates (not parole violators) who have earned early release credits but are
deemed by the board to be unprepared for release.
Alternative III: After implementing a risk assessment system and expanding in-prison
programs and community-based sanctions for parole violators, the Board of Prison
Terms could deny the early release of all incarcerated parole violators who the board
deems unprepared for release.
For a detailed discussion of these alternatives and estimates of the costs to implement
them, see p.53.
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BEFORE THEY COME HOME

Alternatives and Cost Estimates for Denying Early Release Credits
To motivate offenders to prepare for their return to the community, the State could deny early release
credits to inmates who have not adequately prepared for reintegration. The annual cost of
implementing this policy could range from tens of millions to more than $240 million, depending upon
various factors: how many inmates were subject to the review process; when it was implemented; how
many lost some or all of their earned work credits; how many additional months they were
incarcerated as a result; and, how much total time was left on their sentences. Some of these costs
could be offset by potentially significant future savings from reduced recidivism rates that would have
to be calculated. Additional savings also may be achieved from reduced crime, but these savings
would not be accrued to CDC.

Eligibility for Early Release Credits
Work credit eligibility varies depending on the crime, the date it was committed, and previous felony
convictions. Generally, inmates convicted of non-violent felony offenses can earn one day off for
every day of participation in a work, educational, vocational or drug treatment program. Inmates in fire
camps earn two days off for every day of work. Most violent offenders can reduce their sentences by
no more than 15 percent and "second strikers" can reduce their sentences by no more than 20
percent. Inmates on waiting lists to participate in programs earn one day off for every two days on a
waiting list. Approximately 54 percent of the 160,000 inmates participate in full-time assignments in
the work incentive program to earn early release credit.

Potential Costs
Retaining inmates longer would result in additional costs for incarceration. Presumably, other costs
would include a hearing and appeals process. An additional process would be necessary upon intake
to develop release plans and inform inmates of what they need to accomplish to fully retain earned
work credits. CDC educators, officers and treatment providers would spend time evaluating inmate
readiness and testifying at hearings and appeals. Additionally, CDC currently does not have enough
programs available for all eligible inmates. If early release was linked to completion of specified
readiness tasks, such as earning a GED or participating in drug treatment, CDC could be legally
required to add additional programs incurring additional costs.

Cost Estimates
Based on the above assumptions, costs were estimated for denying the early release of 20 percent of
all inmates eligible for early release to parole through the work incentive program. The estimate
assumes that 54 percent or 68,000 of the 126,000 inmates annually released participated in early
release credit programs and includes only additional incarceration and hearing process costs. Costs
were broken down for three alternative approaches: all inmates, first releases and parole violators.

Population

Incarceration Costs
for 20% Prison
Retention

Review/Hearing
Process

Total Annual
Cost

All Inmates

$217,683,000

$23,921,106

$241,604,106

First Releases

$170,629,500

$10,525,146

$181,154,646

$47,053,500

$13,395,960

$60,449,460

Parole Violators

Notes and sources for the analysis and cost estimates are detailed on page 104.

53

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

54

BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

Back to the Community
Finding 3: The goals for parole – public safety and successful reintegration – are
undermined by the way the State supervises and assists parolees and the lack of
community involvement in re-entry.
Every year, about 125,000 inmates are released from California prisons
and placed on parole – a process of supervision and assistance intended
to protect public safety and help parolees successfully transition from
prison to the community.140 Some parolees present real risks to public
safety and some do not. But the State does not adequately target
supervision and assistance to increase the number of parolees who
successfully return home. Only 21 percent of parolees will complete
their parole term without being returned to prison or absconding. 141
CDC has a variety of programs designed to improve the literacy and
employability of parolees, treat their drug addictions and assist them
with the life skills necessary for successful reintegration into the
community. But the programs are not available in every parole region,
are not integrated and are not targeted to parolees who need them the
most or who are most likely to benefit from them. In fiscal year 2002-03,
the department's programs served about half of all parolees released. 142
Community-based services, while plentiful in many areas, are not
effectively tapped to serve parolees or are denied to parolees.
The State should transfer the resources and responsibility for parolee
reintegration to communities – who have the most to gain when parolees
succeed and the most to lose when they fail.
To manage resources
wisely and manage offenders safely, supervision and services should be
based on distinctions among parolees and evidence of what works.

The Purpose of Parole
Parole agents are charged with two distinct functions – providing
surveillance of parolees to protect public safety and brokering the
assistance parolees need to successfully transition from prison to the
community.
By law all state prisoners serve a period of time on parole upon release
from prison.143 As described in the Background, parolees are assigned to
one of four levels of supervision, which determine the intensity of contact
with the parole agent. Eighty percent of parolees are supervised on
regular rather than intensive case loads and typically have fewer than
two, 15-minute face-to-face contacts with the parole agent each
month.144 Even the most high-risk parolees are only required to see their

55

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
parole agent at their residence once a month. Parole has the discretion
to place low-risk parolees on “banked” or unsupervised caseloads, which
would permit more intensive supervision of the remaining parolees. But
it has chosen to do this only for undocumented immigrants who have
been deported from the United States upon their release on parole.145
Parolees are required to abide by numerous conditions of parole,
including general conditions that are applied to all parolees and special
conditions that can be imposed based on the parolee’s offense.
(Conditions of parole are described in the Background.) For example, in
1998, 71 percent of the total parole population, or nearly
81,000 parolees, were required to submit to regular drug testing. Almost
25,000 were directed to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages, and
more than 12,000 were required to participate in psychiatric treatment.
(This includes parolees taken into state custody for parole violations and
those who have fled from parole.)146
To reduce parole failure and subsequent returns to prison the
department’s parole and community services division operates the
Preventing Parolee Crime Program. The effort consists of programs to
address the literacy, employment, substance abuse and life skills needs
of parolees. The programs are described in the Background. CDC
spends 12 percent of the parole budget on assistance and services for
parolees, while 88 percent is spent on supervision.147

Parole is “Broken”
The goals of parole are public safety and parolee reintegration. Some
correctional officials and victim advocates argue that the State’s high
return-to-custody rate is evidence that parole is effectively protecting
public safety by taking dangerous offenders off the street.
While public safety is enhanced when dangerous violators are behind
bars, all parole violators will be back on the streets within a few months
– without having participated in programs to reduce the chances they
will commit further crimes.
The large number of parolees who are returned to prison also is evidence
that the goal of successful parolee reintegration is not being met. Some
local law enforcement officials assert that the parole system is “broken”
beyond repair.148
In its review, the Commission identified five fundamental problems that
undermine the goals of public safety and parolee reintegration.

56

BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
1. No transition process. Most prisoners are released from prison to
the streets without the benefit of a “step down” process to help them
successfully make the transition. There are approximately 900 re-entry
prison slots and a limited number of substance abuse treatment slots,
that only meet the needs of a small percentage of prisoners.149 The
federal prison system uses halfway houses for prisoners nearing release
dates. The 2003-04 budget requires the department to implement
prerelease planning in all prisons. The budget included 143 positions to
support the program but the department’s request for a project team to
develop and manage the effort was denied. And as late as October 7 the
department had not been granted all of the hiring freeze exemptions
required to fill the positions.150

2. Supervision is inadequate. In 2000, CDC lost track of about onefourth of the 117,000 parolees it was supervising.151 Nationally, about
9 percent of all parolees have absconded from supervision.152 Local law
enforcement leaders assert that CDC so poorly supervises parolees that
public safety is jeopardized. They say police and sheriff’s departments do
far more parolee monitoring than CDC.153 Parole agents often work
alone, are unarmed and fearful to enter the homes and neighborhoods
where parolees reside, according to these officials. Rather than risk their
safety by conducting unannounced home visits, parole agents schedule
appointments – undermining the effectiveness of supervision.154 The
Oakland police chief said that parole agents “supervise from their desks”
because they cannot safely supervise parolees alone, but fear reliance on
law enforcement will jeopardize their jobs. 155
Sacramento law enforcement officials assert that labor union bargaining
agreements preclude parole agents from working beyond their regularly
scheduled shift, even if their presence is needed in activities involving
parolees. The police chief said: “At the community level we could do a
better job (of supervising parolees) than the State could ever think of
doing.”156

3. Inadequate services.

CDC programs serve only a fraction
parole population, are not integrated, are not available in every
region and are not well known to many parole agents. Similar to
programs, parole services are not targeted based on risk and
assessments and most have not been evaluated.

of the
parole
prison
needs

Most communities have a wide range of services that could serve
parolees but often do not for a variety of reasons, including poor
communication between parole and local agencies, reluctance of
community-based providers to serve parolees and low motivation by
parolees to participate.

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
Mental health, drug treatment and other local service providers often
turn away parolees on the assertion they are a state responsibility.
Similarly, the performance of local workforce investment boards is
measured by their success in placing clients in the highest paying jobs, a
disincentive to serve parolees who often only qualify for low paying
positions and have trouble maintaining employment.

Parole Programs:
Problems and Potential
Computerized Literacy Learning Centers are
available in 45 of the State’s 91 parole units.
In 2001-02 they served 5,355 of the 125,000
inmates released to parole, providing
reading, writing, math, G.E.D. preparation
and resume writing. Sacramento has one
center, which consists of a small classroom
with a handful of computers and one
instructor. Participation is voluntary,
participants work at their own pace and are
not required to meet goals within specified
timeframes. The program is provided
through a contract with the Contra Costa
County Office of Education. Program
managers from the county office and CDC
believe that this and most other parole
programs should be mandatory and targeted
to parolees with the greatest needs. Office
of education staff stated they have fought for
years to make literacy centers mandatory.
Moreover, there is no mechanism to link
offenders in the literacy program with other
programs that comprise the Preventing
Parolee Crime Program, even though many
need the multiple services available through
these fragmented programs.
Many of the Preventing Parolee Crime
Programs have been in effect since the early
1990s, but have only recently been
evaluated to determine their effectiveness.
CDC has contracted with a researcher at
San Diego State University to evaluate six
programs and their impact on parolee
recidivism. The study is not due to the
Legislature until the end of 2003, but
preliminary results indicate significant
reductions in recidivism rates for parolees
who enter into and complete any of the six
programs.
Sources: Sharon Jackson, Assistant Deputy Director,
Parole & Community Services Division, Department of
Corrections, Written communication, May 12, 2003.
Shannon Swain, Project Coordinator, Contra County
Office of Education, July 9, 2003.

Federal law requires states to bar drug-related
felons from receiving federally funded public
assistance, including housing and food stamps.
Individuals who violate probation or parole are
“temporarily” ineligible for TANF, food stamps,
SSI benefits and public housing – frustrating
women offenders who are trying to reunite with
their children.157 California has not sought a
waiver from federal restrictions. Nine states
have opted out of the ban, 10 impose partial
denials and 10 states link benefits with
participation in drug treatment.158
By failing to consistently or adequately provide
transitional housing, employment assistance or
other bridge services, the State has increased
the chances that parolees will either violate
technical conditions of parole or engage in
behavior that compromises public safety.

4. Numerous parole conditions. By placing
all released inmates on parole and including
numerous conditions of parole, the State has
greatly increased the numbers of parolees and
the chances that parolees will violate some
condition of parole. Jeremy Travis, a national
expert on prisoner re-entry, recommends that
states make parole conditions few in number,
readily enforceable, supported by strong
research and strictly tied to the goals of
reintegration and crime reduction.159

5. Few incentives for success. Just as there
are few incentives for inmates to prepare for
release, there are few positive incentives for
parolees to reintegrate. Parolees are readily
sanctioned for negative behavior, but seldom
rewarded for positive behavior. Early release
from parole – possibly the best incentive for

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BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
reintegration – is underused. Parolees in Nevada get a month off their
parole term for every successful month on parole. Reduced reporting
requirements, early electronic monitoring termination, and verbal and
written recognition of compliance – rewards used in Georgia – also could
be employed.
California can award Certificates of Rehabilitation, which are “court
orders which declare that a person who has been convicted of a felony is
rehabilitated.” 160 To apply, offenders typically must be arrest free for
five to seven years. But the process is described as cumbersome and
unfamiliar to parolees and parole agents. Consequently, few parolees
apply for the certificates.161

Increasing Community Involvement
Across the country re-entry partnerships have developed to respond to
the impact of prisoners returning to communities. These partnerships
are based on the premise that no single agency can successfully address
the complex needs of prisoners. Research and experience are showing
that community-based entities – like local law enforcement, probation
departments, re-entry courts and non-profit agencies – can more
effectively mobilize local employment, health, drug treatment, housing
and other critical services to support reintegration. While most of the
programs have not yet been sufficiently evaluated, many have been
identified by experts as “promising practices.”162 Across the country,
three major models are being explored:

§

Re-entry Partnerships are based on the premise that no one
strategy – supervision or rehabilitation alone – or any one agency can
effectively address crime-related issues. Each element of the criminal
justice system – police, courts, institutional and community
corrections – plays a role in managing offenders and changing
behaviors. Similarly, the criminal justice system cannot do this alone
and must engage family, community service providers, faith-based
organizations and other formal and informal supports in reintegrating
offenders.
In 2001, the U.S. Department of Justice funded the Re-entry
Partnership Initiative (RPI). Participating states include Vermont,
Maryland, Washington, Nevada, Missouri, Florida, South Carolina,
and Massachusetts. Evaluators at the University of Maryland wrote
that the best RPI sites use case management, where “the collective
efforts of justice agencies, service providers, family, and other
community supports are devoted to enhancing the offender’s
accountability and productivity in the community.” Over time, it is

59

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
hoped that formal social controls – that is police, parole and judges –
give way to informal social controls in the form of families and
neighborhoods.163

§

Police and Corrections Partnerships bring corrections, police and
community-based organizations together to monitor and assist with
parolee reintegration.
While similar to the comprehensive
partnerships described above, they are more narrowly defined,
involve fewer community organizations and are more surveillance
focused. 164 They coordinate police and corrections resources to
improve parole outcomes and leverage the greater resources of the
police, who are already working in the community around the clock –
often in a community policing model. Criminologist Joan Petersilia
notes that advocates believe police-corrections teams could
potentially reshape how policing and parole services are performed. 165

California’s Police and Corrections Teams (PACTs) are characteristic
of police and corrections partnerships elsewhere. The program began
in Oakland as a partnership between law enforcement and the parole
department to locate and capture parolees at large. Over time, the
focus shifted to a weekly orientation meeting that all parolees are
required to attend within one week of their release from prison.
Corrections and law enforcement personnel, as well as organizations
that provide education, vocational training, housing, mental health
and drug and alcohol treatment participate in
the meeting. Parolees are welcomed back to the
Engage Community-based
community, provided information about services
Agencies in Prisoner Re-entry
and told what is expected of them. The program
In communities where multi-disciplinary
is now in about a dozen sites. The department
providers have come together to serve
plans to expand the program and received
parolees, including Oakland and Los
Angeles, leaders say that two elements are
funding in the 2003-04 budget to contract for
critical to successfully engaging and
staff to develop, coordinate and sustain the
maintaining their participation: capacity
participation of community service providers at
building and inmate preparation. The
the sites.166
capacity of the providers to serve the parole
population must be developed and sustained
and inmates must be prepared, while in
prison, to receive the services once they are
on parole. For example, Project Choice, a
re-entry initiative in Oakland, found that
housing providers are willing to work with
parolees when they have been prepared for
their return to the community. The initiative
involves a contract with two communitybased organizations to prepare inmates for
release.

The Maryland Department of Probation and
Parole’s HotSpots Initiative provides funding to
62 high-crime communities in Maryland called
HotSpots – many of which are also home to high
concentrations of returning prisoners. Adults
and juveniles on probation and parole in
HotSpots neighborhoods receive intensive
supervision from joint teams of police, parole,
probation, juvenile justice and federal probation
officers.167

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BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
§

Re-entry Courts have emerged in about a dozen jurisdictions
around the country. Some are located in parole departments, some
are extensions of drug courts and some are special calendars in
traditional criminal courts. Re-entry courts involve judicial oversight
of parolees as they try to reintegrate, just as drug courts oversee
addicts in treatment.

The parole officer serves as a case manager, working with the court
and parolee on a re-entry plan. Prisoners appear before a judge when
released from prison and then monthly to report progress in meeting
the conditions of their re-entry plan. Judges can marshal community
resources to assist parolees, and wield both “carrots” and “sticks” to
promote successful reintegration. The “carrots” are services, positive
reinforcement, family and community support, and a venue for
acknowledging success. The “sticks” can be enhanced levels of
supervision, curfews, more intensive drug treatment or frequent drug
testing and local incarceration for short periods of time, or ultimately
return to prison. Jeremy Travis says drug courts are “open and
public, use the adversarial process
productively, and involve the use of
San Diego Dialogue
“carrots” and “sticks” in a direct
The San Diego Dialogue, an array of
conversation
between
judges
and
organizations, is developing a multiparolees.” Travis suggested that California
disciplinary approach to prisoner re-entry in
could pave the way toward widespread
neighborhoods hardest hit by large numbers
establishment of re-entry courts for all
of returning prisoners. The pilot project will
168
serve 100 parolees and their families from
returning prisoners.
prerelease from prison through re-entry into
the community. The four core program
Many re-entry partnerships are in their
components include:
infancy and few have been adequately
1) Providing education and job services in
evaluated. But confidence is growing among
prison
academics, researchers and practitioners that
2) Assisting families to prepare for re-entry
these efforts, when well managed and targeted
by addressing child custody, child
to the right individuals, will cut costs, improve
support and domestic violence issues
parolee reintegration and benefit public safety.
3) Developing a network of community
The State and communities should explore the
service providers
range of proven strategies to improve parolee
4) Educating the community about prison
reintegration and should promote innovations,
re-entry
including parole camps where inmates can
develop job and life skills.

61

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

Giving Communities More Responsibility
As recognition grows that state correctional agencies alone cannot
effectively manage prisoner re-entry, some States are redefining their
relationships with communities to better share the responsibility for
prisoner re-entry or to shift the responsibility for prisoner re-entry to
communities.
The Oregon Community Corrections Partnership, established in 1995,
gave communities more resources, responsibility and accountability for
local correctional activities. The law was in response to concerns that
new mandatory sentencing laws would increase the prison population
and that offenders with sentences less than a year – most of whom were
probation or parole violators – were not being efficiently managed by a
state prison system that revolved around longer terms of incarceration.
The problems mirror those in California, including:
ü

Offenders, particularly parole violators, are not in prison long enough
to benefit from programs to reduce the likelihood of further criminal
behavior. Counties, in turn, were recognized as providing effective
programming for short-term offenders.

ü

Prisons are not equipped for quick turnaround admissions and
releases.

ü

Short-term inmates are difficult and expensive to manage in a prison
environment, draining resources needed for long-term inmates into a
costly admission, security and release process. Ninety-two percent of
offenders who receive short sentences have had their parole or
probation revoked for failing on community supervision.

Oregon requires counties, in partnership with the state, to provide
punishment, sanctions and services for felony offenders, including parole
violators with sentences of 12 months or less, while the state
incarcerates felony offenders who are violent or commit more serious
offenses. The model shifts the focus of corrections away from a state
system to a model of local responsibility to prevent the escalation of
criminal activity. It is premised on the idea of putting offenders in the
hands of authorities that know them and how to work with them.
Counties have decision-making authority about investments in
correctional resources and which offenders will receive local
incarceration sentences or alternative sanctions.
The State provided construction funds for counties needing additional
housing capacity and operational funds to provide services. Counties had
two years from the enactment of the law to take full responsibility for

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BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
local supervision, sanctions and services for these offenders – provided
the State maintained a base level of funding.
Community correction agencies use offender risk and needs assessment
and focus the most intensive supervision and programs on the higher
risk individuals. The state department of corrections provides technical
assistance and training to counties regarding supervision, sanctions and
services.
Since the law was first enacted community corrections dollars invested in
programs increased from 1 percent to 15 percent. Studies of recidivism
found no differences, but revocation rates fell as counties used a wider
variety of sanctions. Also, the average length of revocation sentences
was reduced from 4.2 months to 3.4 months, resulting in substantial
savings in the cost of incarceration.169
Other states have explored similar alternatives. Washington prohibits
returning parolees to prison for true technical violations of parole and
instead sanctions them with 30 to 60 days in jail and requires parolees
to pay a fee for services. Michigan created “technical rule violation”
centers in lieu of re-incarceration.

PACT Programs
PACT programs, in part, are designed to bring multi-disciplinary community providers together in one
location to serve parolees. The concept is sound, but the program fails to link enough parolees with
important services like housing, employment and drug treatment. Only 10 percent of parolees take
1
advantage of community-based services available through the program. Fundamental shortcomings
include:
§

One-time outreach.

§

Limited agency involvement. A law enforcement partner in the Sacramento PACT program

Parolees attend a mandatory orientation meeting with parole, law
enforcement and community providers within a week of their release from prison. Parolees are
encouraged, but not required, to learn about and access the services of community providers. For
those who do not, there is no mechanism to follow up and encourage or require them to do so.
described local service providers as the “life blood” of the program that had been steadily drained.
He attributed the decline in participation to low parolee motivation and the failure of the State to
dedicate a parole official to develop, nurture and maintain the participation of community agencies
and follow up with parolees. In two years, the number of community agencies participating in the
PACT weekly parolee orientation meetings had diminished by one-half. Dedicated staff with
responsibility for facilitating coordination and communication among the core agencies, eliciting
and sustaining the participation of a wide range of community providers and arranging for followup with specific offenders could improve the performance of the program.

§

No evaluation. PACT programs have existed since 1999, but CDC has not evaluated them to
determine what elements are working, what elements are not working and how programs could be
improved and, if appropriate, expanded. At a meeting attended by officials from the Parole and
Community Services Division, the Commission heard from a national expert that several
foundations would be willing to fund evaluations of PACT programs.

63

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
Some states have implemented justice reinvestment initiatives that allow
funds saved by other social service programs as a result of parolee
success to be directed to fund parole programs. In many large cities,
parolees typically are concentrated in specific locations, representing
"multi-million dollar blocks" where families tap into multiple costly social
service programs, such as foster care and needy family programs.170

Recommendation 3: To maximize public safety, communities must assume
greater responsibility for reintegrating parolees, and the State should provide the
leadership and funding to make those efforts successful. Specifically, the State
should:
q Start with pioneering counties. The Governor and Legislature
should shift resources, responsibility and accountability for parolee
reintegration to communities. The State should identify three or four
communities with the desire and capacity to be the first ones to
assume responsibility for parolee reintegration. The State should
develop agreements and provide funding for sheriffs in those
counties, in partnership with community agencies, to provide
supervision, services and sanctions for parolees. Funding should be
equal to the cost of state-administered activities. Within three to five
years all counties should assume responsibility for returning
offenders.

q Manage a transition plan. The Youth and Adult Correctional Agency
should manage the transition plan by identifying and helping to
overcome barriers to operating effective re-entry programs and
providing training, technical assistance and evaluation.

q Identify and report outcomes. The Youth and Adult Correctional
Agency and the Department of Corrections, in cooperation with their
community partners, should establish performance measures for
reintegrating parolees and annually report progress to the Governor,
Legislature and county boards of supervisors.

q Reduce barriers.

The State should
review all inappropriate legal barriers to
reintegration and remove them. It should
seek a federal waiver to remove punishments
that thwart reintegration such as the ban on
public assistance and food stamps for some
offenders, including low-level drug offenders.
The State should consider providing parole
officials with absolute immunity for the
actions of parolees under their supervision,
as it does judges and prosecutors.

Focus on Drug Offenders
The State, in coordination with communities,
should expand the availability of aftercare
treatment for parolees who participated in
drug treatment while in prison. Additionally,
the State should provide fiscal incentives to
counties to house and treat parolees who are
substance abusers. The preliminary success
of Proposition 36 shows the potential of drug
treatment to reduce the demand on prisons
and address addiction among offenders.

64

BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

q Develop promising models. The State should encourage counties to establish re-entry
courts when they assume responsibility for parolee reintegration. The State should fully
develop Parole and Correction Team programs by dedicating staff to coordinate and sustain
community participation and follow-up activities with parolees. The department should
pursue resources for evaluations, including foundations and universities.

To best use available resources and motivate parolees to reintegrate, the State
and its community partners should ensure that parole embodies:
q Supervision and services based on distinctions among parolees.
Supervision and services should be based on individual risk and
needs assessments. Parole conditions should be linked to these
assessments and show evidence of reduced recidivism.

q Supervision and services that are “front loaded.” Supervision and
services for parolees should be targeted and intense in the first
critical months following release and reduced later when the risk of
recidivism is lower.

q Rewards for positive behavior. Some parolees who meet specific
criteria for successful reintegration, like maintaining employment,
housing and remaining violation free for a period of time, should be
released early from parole or provided other rewards like reduced
reporting requirements.

q Restorative practices.

Parole should provide opportunities for
parolees to pay their victims and communities back for the harm they
caused, including, paying for a portion of the cost of their
supervision, and using community service as a condition of parole
and as a sanction for parole violations.

65

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

66

WHEN PAROLEES FAIL

When Parolees Fail
Finding 4: Correctional officials do not intervene in cost-effective ways with
parolees who are not successfully reintegrating. When parole violators are
returned to custody, they are not prepared for their imminent re-release.
Parole officials respond to the majority of parole violations – minor and
serious – by returning parolees to prison, driving prison overcrowding
and correctional costs.
It is estimated that California spends
$900 million annually to house parole violators.171 Experts say that
while it is important to respond to parole violations, it is not necessary,
or even prudent, to respond with a return to prison in every instance.172
For most parolees, revocation should be a last, rather than a first,
response.173
Unlike many other states California has not developed a range of
sanctions that can be used to respond to parole violators who do not
require a return to prison to protect public safety. States that have
instituted intermediate sanctions have cut prison commitments,
increased offender reintegration and generated community involvement
in prisoner reentry.
Revocation time is used to resume the punishment of offenders, rather
than to promote their reintegration. In many cases, revocation sentences
are served in reception centers where offenders are ineligible for
programs. The system does not address the reasons for their failure or
tailor services to prepare them for release.
The State should establish guidelines for parole revocation to provide
consistency and accountability in its response to parole violators. To
advance the goals of parole – public safety and parolee reintegration –
and cut correctional costs, the State and communities should develop a
range of sanctions to be used as alternatives to returning parole violators
to prison. It is estimated that cost savings of $50.4 million in 2003-04
and $100.8 million in 2004-05 could be achieved if alternatives to prison
were implemented, particularly for non-criminal and low-level drugrelated parole violations.174

When Parolees Falter
For parolees who violate conditions of their parole the most common
response is a return to prison. It also is the most expensive sanction and
does not address the problems that contribute to continued criminal
behavior. California returns approximately 90,000 parolees to prison a
year, compared to about 3,000 in 1980, a thirty-fold increase. The

67

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
greatest increase – 82 percent – has been in administrative returns
through the parole revocation process.175
An analysis by the Urban Institute of parole violations in California from
1990 to 2000 revealed the following:

§

Most parolees are returned to prison for drug use and drug
possession. Drug use and drug possession account for nearly onethird of all administrative criminal returns, raising the question of
whether different strategies for responding to parolee drug use, such
as treatment, might be more effective.

§

The largest increase is in violations of the “parole process.” The
growth in administrative returns for non-criminal violations of the
parole process accounted for 32 percent of the overall increase. From
1990 to 2000, returns to prison for non-criminal parole violations
increased 247 percent.
The institute suggested that a better
understanding of the behaviors that comprise this category could
help policy-makers determine whether alternative methods for
responding to these violations, including graduated sanctions, could
be more effective.

§

Most revocations involve criminal behavior. When the Board of
Prison Terms revokes parole and sends a parolee back to prison, four
out of five of those cases involves a determination that the parolee
was involved in criminal activity. In 2000, drug use comprised
51 percent of the criminal returns, with parolees serving an ave rage
of four months before they were re-released. 176
This issue is
addressed in detail in Finding 5.

Why Revocation is the Response of Choice
In theory, parole officials have broad discretion when it comes to
responding to parole violations, with the exception of specific behaviors
that must be reported to the Board of Prison Terms. In reality, parole
agents and the BPT emphasize revocation over other alternatives. Among
the reasons are an organizational culture that emphasizes enforcement
over treatment; the lack of revocation guidelines and risk and needs
assessments to guide decision making; and, the lack of adequate
alternatives to prison.
In
responding to violators, parole officials and the Board of Prison Terms
emphasize enforcement – and punishment – over rehabilitation. In the
past, the career paths of correctional officers and parole agents were

An organizational culture that emphasizes enforcement.

68

WHEN PAROLEES FAIL
largely separate and distinct. Most parole agents came from the ranks of
county probation officers and social workers, professions that emphasize
rehabilitation and service. Today 60 percent to 70 percent of parole
agents began their careers as prison guards.
Managers in the Parole and Community Services Division said
correctional officers have a different “mind set” than long-time parole
agents, and many correctional officers have difficulty making the
transition to the more rehabilitation-oriented role of a parole agent. They
believe the result has been an increased focus among parole agents on
“nailing and jailing” parolees, rather than considering alternative
interventions and providing the services that could successfully keep
offenders in the community.177
Parole agents receive limited training on the importance of effectively
linking parolees with programs and the parole agent’s role in helping
parolees to successfully reintegrate. A CDC manager said that the parole
agent academy should devote at least a full day to programs and, more
importantly, that a “culture” of rehabilitation needs to be continually
infused into the work environment and promoted by top
administrators.178
The board is criticized for its “one-size-fits-all”
approach to parole violators.
With a bias
toward revocation, limited due process and a
low threshold for revocation, the board revokes
92 percent of the cases that are sent to it.179
Institutionally opposed to other options, the
board sends revoked inmates back to the same
type of institution where they served their
original sentence. There is little variation in the
revocation time served – an average of five
months – regardless of the nature of the
violation, risk to public safety posed by the
offender, or evidence that more or less time
would result in better success upon release.
The board justifies its tough stance, saying that
by the time parolees arrive at
revocation
hearings they have squandered numerous
opportunities to succeed through alternative
sanctions.
A deputy commissioner told the
advisory committee that the board does not see
itself in the roles of parole agent or treatment
provider and that it most commonly uses the
“stick” approach.180

69

BPT Deputy Commissioner
Comments to the Little Hoover
Commission
"I have 26 years of experience in county
probation, familiar with the menu of
intermediate sanctions served to this same
population of offenders. Parolees are
typically graduates of the county correctional
system – they are the failures of that system.
They deflected success. They are the least
amenable to counseling, treatment, threats,
and supervision. They’ve earned their way
to prison on the installment plan.
They are the chronic and habitual offenders
still preying upon the residents and
businesses in our communities. They have
left many victims in their wake. It’s much
more than self-victimization.
The BPT takes its responsibility to preserve
public safety quite seriously and opts for reincarceration frequently versus less punitive
sanctions that have already failed."
Source: Kenneth E. Cater, Chief Deputy Commissioner,
Board of Prison Terms, Little Hoover Commission
Advisory Committee Meeting, January 6, 2003.

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
The State has not
established guidelines that could provide transparency, consistency and
accountability in responding to parole revocations. Without revocation
guidelines or a formal risk assessment instrument, parole officials err on
the side of caution and recommend revocation rather than assume the
risk inherent in keeping the offender on the streets. One expert witness
testified that California’s parole system embodies “every bureaucratic,
organizational and political incentive” for parolees to be violated and
returned to custody and every incentive to spend more on prisons. 181

No standards to guide decision-making.

Moreover, absent guidelines, parole violators with similar histories and
parole violations can receive dramatically disparate sanctions, depending
on who supervises them, the region in which they live, or the BPT
commissioner conducting their hearing. There are significant differences
in parole revocation rates among California's four parole regions, ranging
from a low of 34 percent in Region III (Los Angeles County) to a high of
69 percent in Region I (the Central Valley and Sierra).182
Many variables effect parole revocation decisions. Some communities
have more resources, such as drug treatment where a parolee can be
placed in lieu of a return to prison. For instance, parole agents in

The Texas Violation Action Grid
Texas recently altered its parole revocation decision-making process to reduce costs and improve
outcomes. Previously, all revocation decisions were made by a centralized unit that would determine
sanctions for parole violators or refer cases to the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole for a hearing.
Parole violators were costing the state hundreds of millions while waiting for hearings and the board
was declining to revoke the parole or apply alternative sanctions in a quarter of the cases it heard.
In 2000, decision-making was decentralized so that parole officers were given the authority to
determine whether alternative sanctions or a hearing was appropriate for parole violators. Using a
violation action grid developed with data from the National Institute of Corrections, parole agents
consider a range of alternative sanctions based on the type of parole violation and the offender's
supervision level. A variety of sanctions, including electronic monitoring, drug treatment and shortterm confinement in an intermediate sanction facility, are part of the grid options. The parole agent
recommendation is electronically referred to a supervisor. If the supervisor agrees with the agent, the
decision-making process is complete. If the parole agent and the supervisor do not concur, the review
is sent electronically for a third-party review and the third party decision is final.
If alternative sanctions are deemed appropriate, the parolee is offered a waiver to decline a hearing
and accept the sanction. If a parolee declines the waiver, the case will go to the board for a hearing.
The policy shift resulted in multiple cost savings. The parole population in county jails awaiting
hearings and the number of hearings held was reduced by more than 50 percent. The board revoked
parole in a higher percentage of the cases it heard, however, since the caseload had dramatically
decreased, the overall revocation rate declined by 10 percent. Parolees receiving intermediate
sanctions increased by 8 percent, which resulted in cost savings for the prison system. Accepting an
alternative sanction prevents the clock from stopping on a parole term. More significantly, the parolee
doesn't lose parole time served and earned good time credits, as is the case for parolees who return
to prison in Texas.
Source: Bryan Collier, Division Director, Parole Division, Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Personal and written
communication, September 19, 2003.

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WHEN PAROLEES FAIL
Oakland and San Francisco have more opportunities to place a drug
offender into treatment than parole agents in small coastal communities.
In many of the rural communities in Region I, crime rates are low and
local law enforcement is inclined to influence parole agents to
recommend parole revocations for minor infractions that would not be
considered by parole agents in large, urban communities. There is a
mentality that "no crime goes unpunished." In early 2003, Region I
implemented a process to have a second review of parole violations by
the regional administrator in an attempt to reduce the influence of local
law enforcement on parole agents. The strategy recently has been
expanded to all regions.183
Individual parole agents also play a significant role in regional revocation
variances. In large urban areas where turnover among agents is high,
regional administrators have taken the opportunity to hire and train
parole agents who are more amenable to using alternative sanctions.
In the past decade the National Institute of Corrections has worked with
29 jurisdictions to help them develop policies to respond to violations in
ways that enhance the effectiveness of probation and parole supervision
and improve community safety. Jurisdictions also were interested in
creating a certain amount of consistency and equity in handling
violations.
Components of the
Process
NIC developed and took participants through a comprehensive
Establish/Maintain
process that began with the development of a vision about what
policy team
they wanted to do with supervision and what they wanted to
Assess current
achieve, and ended with monitoring and assessing new policies
practice
and practices for responding to parole violations.
The
Agree on
components of the process, which ideally involves all of the key
goals
stakeholders, lead to the development of a violation policy and
Explore policy
tools and instruments through which the policy is implemented.
options
The process is described in the box.
Many jurisdictions developed “New Generation” policies that
provide a framework to guide officer decision-making when a
violation occurs. An example of a "New Generation" policy is
detailed in the box on the following page.

Few alternatives to incarceration. Unlike many other states,
California has not developed a range of alternative sanctions for
parole violators who do not require a return to prison. Moreover,
California policy-makers have rejected many strategies that have
been proven to work elsewhere and have been proposed by
California’s own parole authorities.

71

Assess impact
of options
Implement new
policies/practices
Monitor and assess
new policies/practices
(ongoing)
Source: National Institute
of Corrections.
"Responding to Parole &
Probation Violations, A
Handbook to Guide Local
Policy Development." April
2001.

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
In 1998, at the request of the Senate President Pro Tempore, the federal
Bureau of Justice Assistance, through its technical assistance program,
assessed California parole violations and recommended a series of
programs and policies designed to reduce the rate of parole revocations.
The researchers suggested that the State fund a number of programs
experimentally to measure their effectiveness and target them to parole
violators who have not been re-arrested for a violent crime.
The
proposals were approved by the Legislature, but vetoed by Governor
Davis. In his veto message the Governor said the bill would reduce

Typical "New Generation" Policy Regarding Violations
The purpose of the "new generation" policy is to provide a framework to guide officer decision-making
when a violation of probation occurs. A clear, consistent understanding of the steps to be taken when
responding to violation behavior should increase officer autonomy and reduce the filing of petitions to
revoke probation in cases in which a response short of revocation and incarceration is appropriate.
Administrative violations of the conditions of probation are inevitable. It is unrealistic to believe that
offenders, even if they sincerely desire to develop drug-free, prosocial lifestyles, will immediately have
the skills or abilities to meet their goals. The issues and forces that brought them into the system will
most likely continue to influence their behavior to some extent until they learn new coping skills.
All responses to violation behavior should consider the agency's mission and philosophy as well as
the goals of the supervision process. Although protection of the community should be the primary
consideration, it does not follow that revocation is always, or even usually, the most effective or
efficient way of achieving this goal.
The goal of community supervision is to intervene selectively and proactively with offenders to reduce
the likelihood of future criminal activity and promote compliance with the supervision strategy.
Strategies involve holding offenders accountable for their actions, monitoring and controlling offender
behavior, and developing rehabilitation programs specific to offender needs. Another significant goal
of the supervision strategy is to ensure an appropriate departmental response to all violations of the
conditions of probation, taking into account offender risk, the nature of the violation, and the objective
of offender accountability.
The basic expectations underlying the department's policy regarding probation violations are:
§

There will be a response to every detected violation.

§

The response to a violation will be proportional to the risk to the community posed by the offender,
the severity of the violation, and the current situational risk.

§

The least restrictive response that is necessary to respond to the behavior will be used.

§

There will be consistency in handling similar violation behavior given similar risk factors.

§

The response to a violation should hold some potential for long-term positive outcomes in the
context of the supervision strategy.

§

Although response to violation behavior is determined by considering both risk and need, risk to
the community is the overriding consideration.

§

A probationer or parolee who demonstrates a general unwillingness to abide by supervision
requirements or who poses undue risk to the community should be subject to a petition to revoke
probation or parole.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections.
Handbook to Guide Local Policy Development." April 2001.

72

"Responding to Parole & Probation Violations, A

WHEN PAROLEES FAIL
accountability for the conduct of parolees and result in the
implementation of unproven intermediate sanctions that could pose a
danger to public safety. The box on page 74 describes the sanctions
suggested in the report.
In a 2003 report to the Legislature, parole officials stated:
“Re -confinement of non-serious parole violators is the most expensive
sanction available in a system that provides few alternatives, and does
not address the core problems that drive long-term patterns of
criminality.”
The report proposed initiatives to reduce recidivism,
including cost-cutting measures, effective punishment, prevention and
early intervention programs and prisoner reentry programs. It estimated
the proposals could result in a 50 percent reduction in parolee recidivism
by 2005-06 and net savings of $189.3 million.184
Some of these
programs were included in the package of correctional reforms included
in the 2003-04 budget.
Finally, parole agents say they often have no choice but revocation,
because services in the community are inadequate or difficult for
parolees to access, issues described in Finding 3.

Using Alternative Sanctions
Many jurisdictions have developed alternatives to prison for non-violent
parole violators.
They include: community service and restitution,
enhanced substance abuse monitoring, day incarceration, electronic
monitoring, work furlough programs, day reporting centers, halfway
houses or community incarceration. Some correctional agencies have
linked sanctions to the seriousness of violations. Others use risk
assessments to gauge the jeopardy to public safety.185 Some examples of
actions taken by other states to control prison populations include:
ü

ü

ü

Washington
prohibits the return of technical parole violators to state prison.
Instead, they remain in the community and serve any additional time
in local jails.
Develop graduated sanctions. Michigan, Vermont, Maryland and
Wisconsin have developed innovative programs to limit the number of
parole violators returned to prison, while protecting public safety.
Change laws on drug offenders. Some states, like Florida, have
diverted drug offenders to local jails and expanded drug courts.

Restrict re-incarceration of technical violators.

To reduce the cost of incarcerating increasing numbers of non-violent
parole violators, the 2003-04 budget directed CDC to employ alternative
sanctions for these parolees including substance abuse treatment in
jails, placement in Community Correctional Re-entry Centers, home
detention and electronic monitoring.

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

What the Research Shows
A 2001 prison survey showed that 22 percent of all state prisoners – and
18 percent of prisoners on death row – committed their most recent
crime while on parole.186 An 11-state study of recidivism among exprisoners found that 63 percent of the offenders were re-arrested within
three years of their release from prison. Two-thirds of the re-arrests
occurred within one year. Importantly, the study found that despite the
high re-arrest rate, the arrests linked to these ex-prisoners constituted
less than 3 percent of all arrests that occurred in the 11 states during
that time period. 187
A recent meta-analysis of 175 evaluations of intermediate sanctions
programs concluded that the combination of surveillance and treatment
was associated with reductions in recidivism of 20 to 25 percent and up
to 30 percent if the program was more targeted. 188 A study by RAND
showed that offenders who participated in treatment, community service,
and employment programs – all prosocial activities – had recidivism rates
10 to 20 percent below that of participants who did not participate in
such additional activities. Reductions of as much as 30 percent were
achieved when programs targeted particular risks and needs.
Researchers found similar results in Massachusetts, Oregon and Ohio. 189
Criminologist Joan Petersilia concludes that the research regarding
intermediate sanctions is decisive: “Without a rehabilitation component,

Graduated, Intermediate Sanctions for Parole Violations
Community Service. Work performed for the benefit of the community by the parolee. The number
of hours of community service to be performed by each offender is governed by program guidelines.
Restitution. Repaying the victim the financial costs of the offense.
Day Fine. A monetary penalty tied to the parolee's wages.
Day Incarceration Center. An enhanced day reporting center where an offender stays all day.
Day Reporting Center. A place where parolees report on a daily basis. Day reporting centers should
provide both supervision and services. Offenders may spend anywhere from an hour per day to a full
day at the facility.
Intensive Supervision. The provision of enhanced contacts with the parolee. It may include
collaborative efforts such as using the police and social service providers to ensure participation in
mandated treatment programs.
Electronic Monitoring. The monitoring of a condition of parole regarding where that parolee should
be at any given time.
Day Boot Camp. A boot camp that allows offenders to return home at night.
Halfway House. A supervised setting where a parolee who may be at work/school during the day
returns for nights, weekends and holidays.
Weekend, Part-time or Shock Incarceration. When an offender on parole is incarcerated for a short
period of time and then released to parole.

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WHEN PAROLEES FAIL
reductions in recidivism are elusive… However, programs that provided
treatment and additional services obtained some reductions in
recidivism, particularly for high-risk offenders, and drug offenders more
specifically.”190
Moreover, intermediate sanctions are not “soft on crime.” Research has
shown that offenders perceive intermediate sanctions like house arrest
and electronic monitoring as much more punitive than a short stint in
jail or prison. When offenders were asked whether they would prefer to
serve six months in jail or prison or two years on intensive supervision,
more than 50 percent chose jail or prison. 191
CDC and BPT could better assess the public safety risks posed by
parolees and appropriately apply a broader range of sanctions for
violations.
Also, communities could assume responsibility for
intervening with parolees who do not require a return to prison.

Recommendation 4: The State should make better use of the resources currently
spent re-incarcerating parole violators – and provide more public safety – by
developing a range of interventions for failing parolees. Specifically, the State
should:
q Use structured decision-making. The State should establish clear,
transparent and binding guidelines for parole revocation to provide
consistency and accountability in the revocation process. This could
be the first step in implementing a broader range of responses that
are cost-effective and protect public safety.

q Use alternative sanctions. To promote public safety and parolee
reintegration, the State, in cooperation with police chiefs and sheriffs,
should develop a range of sanctions to be used as alternatives to
returning parole violators to prison. A system of graduated sanctions
would include:
ü
ü
ü
ü

Community-based sanctions for “technical” violations.
Limits on which serious violations warrant a return to prison.
Lower revocation sentences based on offender risk assessments.
Short-term incarceration in community correctional facilities.

q Focus revocation time on reintegration.
Parole violators who are returned to prison
should be processed and housed separately
from other inmates.
They should receive
services such as drug treatment, life skills and
employment preparation to address the factors
that contributed to their parole failure.
Interventions should be targeted using risk
assessments.

75

Focus on Drug Offenders
Jeremy Travis’ analysis for the Commission
found that drug use and drug possession
account for nearly one third of all
administrative criminal returns to prison. The
State could make better use of existing
resources – and get better outcomes – if it
used different strategies, including drug
treatment, to respond to parolee drug use.

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

76

WHEN NEW CRIMES ARE ALLEGED

When New Crimes Are Alleged
Finding 5: The parole revocation process is used too frequently to respond to
new and serious criminal behavior by parolees.
Parole revocation is used in lieu of criminal prosecution for thousands of
offenders who parole officials believe have committed new and serious
crimes. In 2000, more than 47,000 parolees were released from custody
after serving revocation sentences for criminal behaviors ranging from
drug possession to homicide. They served an average of 5.4 months
before being re-released. 192
Using parole revocation instead of criminal prosecution undermines
public safety by responding to serious criminal behavior in ways that
differ little from responses to non-serious behavior and returns serious
and violent offenders to the streets far sooner than if they had been
prosecuted in a criminal court. Parolees returned to prison for homicides
served on average 9.9 months while those returned for non-criminal
violations served on average 4.3 months.193 Using parole revocation,
with its lower standards for proof of guilt, may also result in innocent
parolees being returned to prison.
The State should review how district attorneys handle parolees who
commit new, serious crimes and institute reforms to ensure that those
parolees are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Parole Revocation
When a parolee commits a crime, which also constitutes a violation of
parole, it can be handled administratively through the parole revocation
process or through the criminal court – or both. When the BPT sends a
parolee back to prison, four out of five cases involve a determination that
the parolee was involved in criminal activity.194
In 2000, of the 47,000 parolees who were released from custody after
serving revocation sentences for criminal actions, 78 were classified as
homicides, 524 as robberies and 384 as rapes and sexual assaults.
Those and other serious offenders served an average of 7.6 months
before they were re-released. The maximum revocation sentence is
12 months. By comparison, offenders convicted in criminal court of
voluntary manslaughter served an average of 74 months. 195
Criminal behavior by a parolee may be discovered by a parole agent or
law enforcement. About 60 percent of the reported violations are the
result of arrests by local law enforcement; the remainder are arrests that

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
involve the parole officer.196 Either way, the parolee can face criminal
charges or be referred to the BPT to be handled administratively as a
parole revocation. A parolee can be involved in the revocation process at
the same time criminal charges are being pursued. In most cases where
criminal charges are being pursued, parole has been revoked.

To Prosecute or Not to Prosecute
Locally elected district attorneys review cases referred to them and
determine whether criminal charges will be filed.
A number of
considerations influence their decisions, including:
ü

ü
ü

ü

Whether the district attorney believes there is enough evidence to
gain a conviction. (To gain a conviction a jury must determine that
the offender is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – a threshold that
results in the dismissal of many cases that are referred to district
attorneys.197 )
The availability and credibility of witnesses.
Whether the difference in prison time between a conviction and a
revocation sentence is substantial enough to warrant the cost of
prosecution.
The priority of the case in the context of available resources.

Observers assert that filing standards differ widely among county district
attorneys, reflecting their political views and those of their constituencies
– with more conservative prosecutors more inclined to file charges for
serious parole violations than their more liberal counterparts. Others
claim that these locally elected officials are driven to maintain high
conviction rates and are therefore reluctant to try cases where the
outcome is uncertain. Finally, the availability of the revocation process
as a fallback that at least gets the offender off the streets for a period of
time makes the decision not to prosecute easier. While this practice
provides immediate protection for victims, particularly in cases involving
domestic violence or stalking, the end result may be a short-term
revocation sentence instead of a more lengthy new prison term.
Furthermore, there is little public knowledge or public scrutiny of these
decisions in all but the most high profile cases and the district attorney
is not required to confer with law enforcement or parole officials when
considering whether to file criminal charges. Local law enforcement
agencies are supposed to be informed when the district attorney
determines not to file criminal charges.198
The Commission reviewed more than 20 case files of offenders who
served revocation sentences for crimes classified by CDC as homicides in
an attempt to understand why the cases were handled as parole

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WHEN NEW CRIMES ARE ALLEGED
revocations. The review raised more questions than it did answers. Most
of the cases involved allegations of attempted murder. The responses of
the system ranged from instances where there appeared to be no referral
to the district attorney to a few instances where charges were filed but
later dismissed.
In many of the cases it was unclear from the information in the files why
the district attorney did not file charges or why charges were dismissed.
For example, in a case of involuntary manslaughter where the identities
of two parolee suspects and the victim did not appear to be in question,
BPT found good cause to revoke parole. Yet there was no evidence of a
referral to the district attorney. There were instances where parole

Parole Revocation vs. Criminal Prosecution
Lower threshold of proof. Revocation hearings are administrative in nature and
require a “preponderance of the evidence” as the standard of proof, which demands
no more than a 51 percent level of certainty of guilt. In criminal proceedings the
standard of proof is “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” a much higher and more
difficult criteria to establish.

No judge. Parole revocation hearings are conducted before one of 65 deputy
commissioners stationed throughout the state. The commissioner has the
responsibility for controlling the proceedings and rendering decisions and judgments
that impact the liberty of parolees – acting in the role of a judge.

Right to counsel. Parolees do not have the right to an attorney in a revocation
proceeding, but may have an attorney appointed if any of the following criteria are
met:
ü

The parolee needs representation.

ü

The parolee’s claim of innocence is supported by some element of evidence.

ü

The parolee lacks the capacity to state his case or provide a defense.

ü

The parolee’s mental state impairs the ability to state his case or provide a
defense.

ü

The parolee has a physical disability that impairs his capacity to present a
defense.

The deputy commissioner decides if any of these tests of “fundamental fairness” are
met. Only one third of parolees are represented by counsel.

Hearsay evidence is admissible. In contrast to criminal proceedings, the
administrative revocation process permits the admission of hearsay evidence, that is
second hand evidence not usually allowed into the record in a criminal court
proceeding.

No right to call witnesses. The deputy commissioner can accept testimony
from witnesses he or she deems “appropriate witnesses.”
If charged and tried before a judge in a criminal court, offenders are entitled to all
due process rights, including representation and the right to call witnesses.
Source: Board of Prison Terms: Revocation Hearings Overview. Kenneth E. Cater, Chief Deputy
Commissioner, Board of Prison Terms, Written communication, October 3, 2003.

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
officers and local law enforcement appeared not to have been consulted
and parole agents were unaware why district attorneys failed to file
cases. In one case the parole officer tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully
to obtain information on the status of the case.
The deputy executive director of the California District Attorneys
Association said that in making filing decisions district attorneys often
confer with parole officers, particularly in gang-related cases. He said
the communication is made easier because officials from these agencies
sit on local gang task forces in all urban
counties. The CDAA representative did concede
Valdivia v. Davis:
that outcomes in these cases could be improved
Due Process for Parolees
with better communication between law
enforcement, parole and district attorneys.
In June 2002, a U.S. District Court found that
California's parole revocation system violates
the due process rights of parolees and
The consequences of this system of adjudication
ordered the State to come up with a remedial
for parolees has implications for community
plan to resolve the problem. In response to
safety and the due process rights of offenders.
the court order, YACA has proposed the
following changes:
q Public safety. Using parole revocation in
ü A probable cause determination/review
lieu of prosecution for new and serious crimes
will take place within 48 hours of a parole
hold to determine if the parolee is a
may undermine public safety and criminal
danger to public safety or if remedial
justice. It often fails to impose sanctions that
sanctions or community-based treatment
are commensurate with the criminal action and
is possible.
aligned with the punishment that would
ü If remedial sanctions are deemed
accompany a criminal conviction.
Most
inappropriate, the parolee shall be
importantly,
it
returns
violent
felons
to
served notice of the charges within three
California communities far sooner than if they
business days.
had been tried and convicted for their crimes –
ü Parolees will have an opportunity to
potentially creating more victims.
meet with an attorney who shall
communicate any offers made by BPT or
a parole administrator prior to a probable
q Due process. The lower standards of proof
cause hearing.
and fewer due process protections inherent in
ü A probable cause hearing will be
the revocation process may also result in the
conducted within 10 business days
return to prison of innocent parolees. The
following the notice of charges. The
administrative parole revocation process differs
parolee will have the opportunity to
in significant ways from criminal proceedings
present evidence and hearsay testimony.
The BPT deputy commissioner or parole
and is described in the box on the previous
administrator will have a full range of
page.
options to resolve the case.
ü

If the parolee rejects an offer at the
probable cause hearing, a revocation
hearing will take place within 35 days.

Source: YACA Valdivia Revised Remedial Plan
submitted to the U.S. District Court for consideration,
August 21, 2003.

Throughout the criminal justice system,
professionals are expected to make judgments –
based on the mission of their organization and
available resources – that best serve public
safety. There is an inevitable and important
tension between the need for due process and

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WHEN NEW CRIMES ARE ALLEGED
the desire for swift and sure justice. There is a trade-off between the risk
of a new trial and the certainty of a parole revocation. Where elements of
the correctional system intersect –- such as a parole violator who could
be charged with a serious new crime – additional diligence is necessary
to ensure that routine decisions indeed are serving the public interest.
At the same time, over the last 20 years, California has made
fundamental changes to its correctional policies without systematically
identifying and resolving the unintended consequences. Among them
may be thousands of inmates who are repeatedly sent back to prison for
serious crimes without the due process they would receive in court. The
unintended consequences may also include future victims who could
have been protected had parole violators been given the second or third
strikes they deserved.
The large number of serious charges being used as a basis to revoke
parole probably reflects some reasonable trade-offs. But it also raises
serious questions that the Commission does not have the evidence to
answer. It encourages policy-makers and public safety officials to
pursue that analysis.

Recommendation 5: To ensure public safety and fairness, the State should
scrutinize its responses to parolees charged with new, serious crimes.
Specifically the State should:
q Review practices and recommend reforms. The Attorney General
should review how district attorneys handle serious crimes by
parolees and make recommendations for reforms.

q Impose accountability.

When a parolee is suspected of a new,
serious crime, district attorneys should be required to solicit input
from parole officials and local law enforcement before determining not
to file charges. District attorneys, when determining not to prosecute
a parolee for a serious alleged criminal activity, should be required to
report that information and the reason why to the Attorney General,
the local law enforcement agency and parole officials. The Attorney
General should annually report the information to the Governor and
Legislature, by county.

q Ensure due process protections.

Depending on changes
ultimately put in place by the court to improve due process
protections for parolees, the Legislature should review the plan and
determine what statutory, regulatory and budgetary reforms should
be enacted to ensure that it is adequately implemented.

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

82

CONCLUSION

Conclusion

F

or more than a decade the Little Hoover Commission, blue ribbon
panels, and a variety of learned experts have challenged California
to improve the performance of its correctional system. Most of the
recommendations have simply been ignored.
Under pressure, the
correctional agencies have occasionally conceded to token reforms that
are then poorly managed and even undermined by prison officials.
Today, there is more evidence than ever to support the recommendations
in this report – many of them common sense ideas that have been
embraced in other states, and were first recommended in California when
many of today’s adult offenders were in juvenile hall.
It is not that other states have figured out how to prevent all ex-felons
from committing new crimes. But most other states recognize that is the
goal and expect the correctional agencies to be refining their programs to
ensure progress toward that goal.
What has changed is that California is now recognized nationally for
parole policies that by all measures are failing. Moreover, California is
seldom even a part of the national discussions about how to develop
correctional policies that improve public safety. Many accomplished
academic criminologists – including Californians – do not even want to
come to Sacramento to discuss the issue, because they do not believe the
State is sincerely interested in changing correctional policies.
What also has changed is that California’s communities have recognized
the impact of tens of thousands of felons – no more prepared for a crimefree life than the day they were sentenced by the courts – coming back to
their neighborhoods.
These communities are taking the leadership to build partnerships, find
resources, and implement the best available strategies for helping
parolees find a job and a home, getting them help with their addictions
and an ounce of hope.
The most substantial reforms in correctional policies are occurring in
Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego – not in Soledad, Avenal or
Corcoran.
Across the country, a growing number of community partnerships have
emerged to share responsibility for returning prisoners. While many are
in their infancy, the successes are mounting and consensus is growing

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
that prison-community partnerships have the greatest potential to
reduce the impact of parole failures on communities.
San Quentin State Prison – an exception to the rule in California – is
gaining a reputation as one such model. The oldest prison in the state is
making fresh thinking a tradition. Administration and staff, inmates and
volunteers are linking the prison with the community, offenders with the
outside, responsibility for the past with expectations for the future.
The other 31 prisons – and the more than $4 billion spent in them each
year – have the same potential.
More than anything else California needs to develop the means for
correctional policies to be based on evidence of what works to reduce
crime, violence and drug abuse by felons who leave the system.
California could discipline correctional policy by giving communities a
strong role in evaluating the performance of prisons and recommending
improvements to prison and parole policies. The Board of Corrections is
well suited to assume this responsibility.
The current policies are costing the State billions of dollars that could be
spent improving education, strengthening families and addressing youth
violence – which are all proven strategies for preventing future criminal
behavior and the associated costs.
It is not a question of what to do. Rather the question is whether
California’s leaders have the will to make the policy choices based on
evidence rather than ideology, on facts rather than fears. The prison
system will be accountable when its performance is publicly measured
based on the success of released offenders. The political system will be
accountable when leaders either implement needed changes or explain to
citizens why they will not.

84

APPENDICES & NOTES

Appendices & Notes
ü Public Hearing Witnesses
ü Public Meeting With Local Law Enforcement
ü Advisory Committee
ü Notes

85

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

86

APPENDICES & NOTES

Appendix A
Little Hoover Commission Public Hearing Witnesses
Witnesses Appearing at Little Hoover Commission
Parole Reform Hearing on January 23, 2003
Rulette Armstead, Assistant Chief
San Diego Police Department

Peter Jensen, Undersecretary
Youth and Adult Correctional Agency

Ernest Austin, Founder
Ex-Offender Action Network

Richard Rimmer, Deputy Director
Department of Corrections
Parole & Community Services Division

Susan Fisher, Executive Director
Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau

Harriet Salarno, Chair/President
Crime Victims United of California

Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor
Department of Law and Police Science
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Nina Salarno Ashford, Consultant
Crime Victims United of California
Marvin Speed, Executive Officer
Board of Prison Terms

Witnesses Appearing at Little Hoover Commission
Parole Reform Hearing on February 27, 2003
The Honorable Jerry Brown
Mayor, City of Oakland

Ron Owens, Community Liaison
Mayor’s Office, City of Oakland

Lance Corcoran
Executive Vice President
California Correctional Peace Officers
Association

The Honorable Don Perata
Member of the California State Senate
Shirley Poe
East Bay District Administrator
California Department of Corrections
Parole and Community Services Division

Frances Hesselbein
Chair, Board of Governors
Leader to Leader Institute
(formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation)

The Honorable Larry Reid
Council Member, City of Oakland

Andy Hsia-Coron, Chair
Professional Educators and Librarians
California State Employees Association

Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow
Urban Institute
Justice Policy Center
Richard L. Word, Chief of Police
City of Oakland

87

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

88

APPENDICES & NOTES

Appendix B
Public Meeting With Local Law Enforcement
Participants at a Little Hoover Commission
Public Meeting on June 26, 2003
Richard J. Barrantes, Commander
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

Bob Blankenship, Chief of Police (Retired)
City of Redding

Lou Blanas, Sheriff
Sacramento County

Albert Nájera, Chief of Police
City of Sacramento
Richard L. Word, Chief of Police
City of Oakland

89

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION

90

APPENDICES & NOTES

Appendix C
Little Hoover Commission Parole Reform Advisory Committee
The following people served on the Parole Reform Advisory Committee. Under the Little Hoover
Commission’s process, advisory committee members provide expertise and information but do
not vote or comment on the final product. The list below reflects the titles and positions of
committee members at the time of the advisory committee meetings in 2003.
Ernest Austin, Founder
Ex-Offender Action Network

Mike Gallegos, Deputy Director
California Youth Authority
Parole Services & Community Corrections

James Austin, Ph.D., Director
George Washington University
Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections

Millicent Gomes
Mental Health Administrator
California Department of Corrections
Parole and Community Services Division

Bob Blankenship
Representing the League of California Cities
and the California Police Chiefs Association
Tim Brown, Executive Director
Loaves & Fishes

Stephen Goya
Regional Administrator
Department of Corrections
Parole and Community Services Division

Ken Cater, Chief Deputy Commissioner
Board of Prison Terms

Simon Haines, Chief Counsel
Senate Public Safety Committee

Bubpha Chen
Research Program Specialist III
California Department of Corrections
Research Branch

Ross D. Hutchings, Executive Director
California Probation, Parole & Correctional
Association
Sharon Jackson
Assistant Deputy Director
Parole & Community Services Division
California Department of Corrections

Arthur Chung, Chief
California Department of Corrections
Offender Information Services
Karen Dalton PH, CJM, Director
Los Angeles County Sheriff Department
Correctional Services Division

Edward Jagels
Kern County District Attorney
Jim L’Etoile, Assistant Director
Department of Corrections
Office of Substance Abuse

Connie Erlich
Administrative Representative
Youthful Offender Parole Board

Jim Lindburg, Legislative Advocate
Friends Committee on Legislation

Ben Fairow, Liutenant
Oakland Police Department
Susan Fisher, Executive Director
Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau

Tim Lockwood, Acting Chair
California Department of Corrections
Research Branch

Raul Galindo, Chair
Youthful Offender Parole Board

Dan Macallair, Executive Director
Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

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LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
Rick Mandella
Board of Prison Terms
Council on Mentally III Offenders

Richard Rimmer, Deputy Director
Department of Corrections
Parole & Community Services Division

Jerome Marsh
Assistant Regional Parole Administrator
Department of Corrections
Parole and Community Services Division

Sharon Rocco, Parole Agent III
Department of Corrections
Parole and Community Services Division
Eluid Romero, Attorney
Sacramento County Public Defender Office

Keith Matsuo
Regional Parole Administrator
Department of Corrections
Parole and Community Services Division

Paul Seave , Director
Department of Justice, Office of Attorney
General
Crime & Violence Prevention Center

Marcus Nieto
Research Program Specialist
California Research Bureau

Don Specter, Director
Prison Law Office

Ron Owens, Community Liaison
Mayor’s Office, City of Oakland

Norma Suzuki, Executive Director
Chief Probation Officers of CA

Greg Pagan
Assembly Committee on Public Safety

Susan Turner, Ph.D., Associate Director
RAND Public Safety & Justice

David Panush
Assistant Fiscal Policy Advisor
Senator John L. Burton's Office
President Pro Tempore

Max Vanzi, Principal Consultant
Senate Office of Research
Steve Weinrich, Sergeant
City of Sacramento Police Department

Mark Peterson, Sergeant
Sacramento County Sheriff Department

Mary Wiberg, Executive Director
Commission on Status of Women

Ruben Ramos, EDD Representative
California Department of Corrections
Parole and Community Services

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APPENDICES & NOTES

Notes
1.

Joan Petersilia, "When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry." Oxford
University Press. 2003.

2.

Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York,
Written communication, September 18, 2003, and California Department of Finance,
2002-03 Governor's Budget.

3.

Little Hoover Commission Public meeting with local law enforcement officials,
June 26, 2003.

4.

Joan Petersilia, "The Challenges of Prisoner Reentry and Parole in California," California
Policy Research Center Brief, Vol.12, No.3, June 2000.

5.

Joan Petersilia, "The Challenges of Prisoner Reentry and Parole in California," California
Policy Research Center Brief, Vol.12, No.3, June 2000 and Jeremy Travis and Sarah
Lawrence, Urban Institute. "California's Parole Experiment." California Journal. August
2002. (Quoting data from Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of
Criminal Justice, New York.)

6.

Legislative Analyst's Office. "Analysis of the 1998-99 Budget Bill: Criminal Justice
Crosscutting Issues."

7.

Jeremy Travis and Sarah Lawrence, Urban Institute. "California's Parole Experiment."
California Journal. August 2002.

8.

Personal communication with CDC Office of Substance Abuse Programs and Michael
Prendergast, Ph.D., UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs. (In 2002, 7,500 inprison treatment beds were available. Since it is a nine month program, 10,000 beds
were available. The 6 percent number was derived by dividing 10,000 treatment beds
by 160,000 inmates. This number is an estimate, because only those inmates within
24 months of release are eligible to participate in the drug treatment program and the
number will vary depending upon how many inmates are in need of treatment and
eligible in any given month.)

9.

Rob Churchill, Supervisor of Corrections Education Programs for the Southern Region,
CDC, Personal communication, October 21, 2003.

10.

National Institute for Literacy. State Correctional Education Programs. March 2002,
p. 20.

11.

Michael L. Prendergast, Ph.D. and M. Douglas Anglin, Ph.D., et al, UCLA Integrated
Substance Abuse Program, "Annual Report on the UCLA-ISAP Evaluations of the 1,000
and 2,000 Bed Expansions of Therapeutic Community Treatment Programs for
Prisoners, October 2000 to September 2001," and Andy Hsia-Coron, Chair, Professional
Educators and Librarians, California State Employees Association, Testimony to the
Commission, February 27, 2003.

12.

Little Hoover Commission, "Beyond Bars: Correctional Reforms to Lower Prison Cost
and Reduce Crime," January 1998, p. 69. Sharon Jackson, Assistant Deputy Director,
Parole & Community Services Division, CDC, Written communication, October 7, 2003.

13.

Little Hoover Commission, "Beyond Bars: Correctional Reforms to Lower Prison Cost
and Reduce Crime," January 1998.

14.

Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York
and U.S. Department of Justice data.

93

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
15.

City of Oakland officials, Testimony to the Commission, February 27, 2003.

16.

2003-04 Budget Bill formerly under consideration by the Conference Committee, staff
analysis of proposed CDC Reforms and Efficiencies, David Panush, June 6, 2003.

17.

California Department of Corrections, "California Prisoners and Parolees", Parole
Violators Returned to Custody by Principal Charge Category, Average Revocation Time
Assessed and Served, 1995-2000 Publications.

18.

Jeremy Travis and Sarah Lawrence, Urban Institute. "California's Parole Experiment."
California Journal. August 2002.

19.

Jeremy Travis and Sarah Lawrence, "California's Parole Experiment," August 2002, p.4.
Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Testimony to the Commission, February
27, 2003 CDC, Quarterly Fact Sheet, Second Quarter 2003 (for annual cost per inmate
data of $28,500). Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Prisoners in 2002." (The 398 rate of
incarceration was derived by subtracting the total population of California and Texas
from the U.S. population and by subtracting the number of inmates in California and
Texas from the total number of state inmates in the U.S. The remaining inmate
population was divided by the remaining U.S. population. If the rate of incarceration in
California were 427 per 100,000 population, there would be 151,461 inmates instead of
160,329, 8,868 fewer inmates. 8,868 inmates multiplied by $28,500 equals
$252,738,000.)

20.

Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Testimony to the Commission,
February 27, 2003.

21.

Ibid.

22.

Ibid.

23.

Ibid.

24.

Ibid.

25.

Ibid.

26.

Ibid.

27.

Kenneth E. Cater, Chief Deputy Commissioner, Board of Prison Terms, Advisory
Committee Meeting, January 6, 2003.

28.

Ibid.

29.

Ibid.

30.

Ibid.

31.

CDC Facts & Figures, Second Quarter 2003.
http://www.corr.ca.gov/CommunicationsOffice/facts_figures.asp

32.

Jeremy Travis and Sarah Lawrence, Urban Institute, "Beyond the Prison Gates: The
State of Parole in America,"2002. P.14.

33.

Michael B. Neal, Assistant Director, Legislative Liaison, CDC, Personal communication,
August 13, 2003.

34.

Little Hoover Commission site visit to Deuel Vocational Institution, February 24, 2003.

35.

Dale Benner, Executive Director, New Directions, Personal communications, July 29,
2003.

36.

CDC Facts & Figures, Second Quarter 2003.
http://www.corr.ca.gov/CommunicationsOffice/facts_figures.asp

94

APPENDICES & NOTES
37.

Little Hoover Commission site visit to Deuel Vocational Institution, February 24, 2003.

38.

Richard Rimmer, Deputy Director, Parole and Community Services Division, CDC,
Testimony to the Commission, January 23, 2003.

39.

Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Testimony to the Commission,
February 27, 2003.

40.

Sharon Jackson, Assistant Deputy Director, Parole and Community Services Division,
CDC, Written Communication, October 7, 2003 and Millicent Gomes, Parole and
Community Services Division, CDC, Personal Communication, October 7, 2003.

41.

Senate Office of Research, "Department of Corrections Re-entry Efforts Fall Short of
Preparing Felons for Return to Society," June 2003.

42.

CDC, "California Prisoners and Parolees, 2001," Table 55. (43.36 percent commit a
crime within 12 months and 55.17 percent commit a crime within 24 months.)

43.

City of Oakland officials, Testimony to the Commission, February 27, 2003.

44.

Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Testimony to the Commission,
February 27, 2003.

45.

City of Oakland officials, Testimony to the Commission, February 27, 2003.

46.

Little Hoover Commission, Advisory Committee Meeting, January 6, 2003, Advisory
committee member comments.

47.

CDC, "California Prisoners & Parolees 2001, " Table 42 ? Parole Violators Released
From Custody by Principal Charge Category, Average Revocation Time Assessed and
Served, Calendar Year 2000.

48.

Ibid.

49.

Bill Sessa, Public Information and Legislative Director, Board of Prison Terms, Personal
communication, October 21, 2003.

50.

Joan Petersilia, "Challenges of Prisoner Reentry and Parole in California," California
Policy Research Center Brief Series, June 2000.

51.

Department of Corrections, "Parole Classifications by Region July 2003." Sara Lopez,
Administrative Assistant to the Deputy Director, Parole and Community Services
Division, Personal Communication, September 22, 2003. Department of Corrections,
Data Analysis Unit, Offender Information Services Branch, "Count of Felon Parolee, PAL
PRTC, PENDREV and SATCU Population by Parole Region and Unit, July 31, 2003."

52.

Ibid.

53.

www.yaca.state.ca.us. Web site accessed October 9, 2003.

54.

Renee L. Hansen, Manager, Legislative Liaison Office, Department of Corrections,
Written communication, October 2, 2003.

55.

Renee L. Hansen, Manager, Legislative Liaison Office, Department of Corrections,
Written communication, October 1, 2003. Data was accurate as of September 5, 2003.

56.

Legislative Analyst's Office, "Analysis of the 2003-04 Budget Bill, Judiciary and
Criminal Justice."

57.

Department of Corrections, "Facts & Figures," Second Quarter 2003.
www.cdc.state.ca.us/CommunicationsOffice .

58.

Renee L. Hansen, Manager, Legislative Liaison Office, Department of Corrections,
Written communication, October 2, 2003.

95

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
59.

Penal Code Section 6258.

60.

Renee L. Hansen, Manager, Legislative Liaison Office, Department of Corrections,
Written communication, October 3, 2003.

61.

Corrections Reform Package provided electronically by David Panush, Assistant Fiscal
Policy Advisor, California Senate, August 18, 2003. 2003-04 Budget Act, AB 1765.
Richard Rimmer, Deputy Director of Parole & Community Services Division,
Department of Corrections, Personal communication, August 26, 2003.

62.

Little Hoover Commission, "Beyond Bars: Correctional Reforms to Lower Prison Costs
and Reduce Crime, January 1998, p. 62. (Describes programs and quantifies the
number of participants in 1998.) Funding information for 2002-03 was provided by
Max Free, Budget Officer, Education and Inmates Programs Unit, CDC, Personal
communication, October 20, 2003.

63.

Yvette Page, Superintendent, Education and Inmate Programs Unit, California
Department of Corrections, Personal communication, October 7, 2003.

64.

John Jackson, Supervisor of Academic Instruction, CDC, Personal communication,
October 22, 2003.

65.

Michael B. Neal, Assistant Director, Legislative Liaison, CDC, Personal communication,
August 13, 2003 and Rob Churchill, Supervisor of Corrections Education Programs for
the Southern Region, CDC, Personal communication, October 21, 2003.

66.

Penal Code Section 6258.1.

67.

Jim L'Etoile, Assistant Director, Department of Corrections, Office of Substance Abuse,
Written communication, October 15, 2003. ($31.8 million is the budget allocation for
2003-04.)

68.

www.pia.ca.gov/piawebdev/index.html. Accessed July 7, 2003.

69.

Little Hoover Commission, "Beyond Bars: Correctional Reforms to Lower Prison Costs
and Reduce Crime," January 1998.

70.

J.R. Griggs, Joint Venture Program, CDC, Personal communication, August 1, 2003
and September 30, 2003.

71.

Case Butterman, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), Personal
communication June 24, 2003 and October 6, 2003. Also, CDF "Conservation Camp
Program," August 2003. Www.fire.ca.gov. CDF estimates the costs for both CDF and
CDC to be approximately $2.35 million per camp for the 33 camps run by the two
agencies. John Peck, Correctional Captain, Camp Program Manager, CDC, Personal
communication, October 10, 2003. CDC has a partnership with Los Angeles County for
five additional camps at a cost of $6 million.

72.

Renee L. Hansen, Manager, Legislative Liaison Office, Department of Corrections,
Written communication, October 3, 2003 and October 15, 2003.

73.

Legislative Analyst's Office, "Analysis of the 2003-04 Budget Bill, Judiciary and
Criminal Justice."

74.

Joan Petersilia. "Challenges of Prisoner Reentry and Parole in California." California
Policy Research Center Brief Series, June 2000.

75.

Sharon Jackson, Assistant Deputy Director, Parole & Community Services Division,
Department of Corrections, provided data on all programs, except SASCA, FOTEP, PSN
Mental Health and HIV, via written communication, May 12, 2003 and October 7, 2003.
Millicent Gomes, Mental Health Administrator, Parole & Community Services Division,
CDC, provided data on the Mental Health Services Continuum and HIV programs,
Personal communication, August 26, 2003, October 8 and 22, 2003. Jim L'Etoile,

96

APPENDICES & NOTES
Assistant Director, Department of Corrections, Office of Substance Abuse, Provided
information for SASCA, FOTEP and PSN via written communication, October 10, 2003
and October 15, 2003. Funding includes General Fund and reimbursements. The
estimated need for all programs was calculated based on the estimated percentage of
parolees who are homeless (10 percent), drug addicted (80 percent), unemployed
(70-90 percent), illiterate (50 percent) and mentally ill (15-17 percent).
76.

Ibid and Shannon Swain, Project Coordinator, Contra Costa County of Education,
July 10, 2003.

77.

Ibid.

78.

Sharon Jackson, Assistant Deputy Director, Parole & Community Services Division,
CDC, Written Communication, October 7, 2003. In 2002-03, CDC states there were
82,946 bed days. 456 is the maximum number of participants annually. The actual
number of participant may be different due to parolees participating for more or less
than six months.

79.

Correction Reform Package provided electronically by David Panush, Assistant Fiscal
Policy Advisor, California Senate, August 18, 2003. 2003-04 Budget Bill, AB 1765.
Richard Rimmer, Deputy Director of Parole & Community Services Division,
Department of Corrections, Personal communication, August 26, 2003.

80.

Sheldon Zhang, Ph.D, Department of Sociology, San Diego State University, Personal
communication, September 15, 2003.

81.

Rod Mullen, Mark Schuettinger, Naya Arbiter and David Conn, "Reducing Recidivism:
Amity Foundation of California and the California Department of Corrections
Demonstrate How to Do It," in Frontiers of Justice, Volume II, Biddle Publishing
Company, 1997.

82.

Drug Policy Alliance. County Survey 2001-2002. and "Early Reports Indicate
Proposition 36 is Working as Intended", May 1, 2002.

83.

Judge Stephen V. Manley, Santa Clara County Superior Court. Written testimony to
the Commission. May 23, 2002. California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs
and the Judicial Council of California, Administrative Office of the Courts, Drug Court
Partnership Act of 1998, Final Report. March 2002.

84.

Douglas Longshore, Ph.D., Susan Turner, Ph.D. and Terry Fain, RAND Criminal Justice
Program, "Effects of Case Management on Parolee Misconduct: The Bay Area Services
Network."

85.

Millicent Gomes, Mental Health Administrator, Parole & Community Services Division,
CDC. Personal communication, August 26, 2003 and October 22, 2003. Approximately
13,000 inmates diagnosed with mental illness received services upon release. The
program also provided evaluations and services for an additional 4,000 parolees
referred by parole agents who were not diagnosed with mental illness in prison.

86.

Jeremy Travis and Sarah Lawrence, Urban Institute. “California’s Parole Experiment,”
California Journal, August 2002, p. 4.

87.

Joan Petersilia, "Challenges of Prisoner Reentry and Parole in California," California
Policy Research Center Brief Series, June 2000. Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban
Institute. Written testimony to the Commission. February 27, 2003.

88.

Little Hoover Commission, "Beyond Bars: Correctional Reforms to Lower Prison Costs
and Reduce Crime," January 1998, p. 62, and Legislative Analysts Office, "Analysis of
the 2003-04 Budget Bill, Judiciary and Criminal Justice." (About 26,000 of the 86,000
eligible inmates were enrolled in educational or vocational programs.)

97

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
89.

Joan Petersilia, "Meeting the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry," Presentation to the
International Community Corrections Association, November 4, 2002.

90.

Joan Petersilia, "Challenges of Prisoner Reentry and Parole in California," California
Policy Research Center Brief Series, June 2000.

91.

Joan Petersilia, "When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry," Oxford
Press, 2003, p.80. (citing Lynch 1999, p. 857).

92.

Little Hoover Commission Advisory Committee Meeting, January 6, 2003. Bubpha
Chen, Research Program Specialist III, CDC Research Branch.

93.

Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York,
Testimony to the Commission, January 23, 2003.

94.

Legislative Analyst’s Office. "Analysis of the 1998-99 Budget Bill: Criminal Justice
Crosscutting Issues."

95.

Richard Rimmer, Deputy Director, Parole and Community Services Division,
Department of Corrections, August 26,2003.

96.

SB 1393, Budget Act of 1996-97.

97.

Parole Classification and Workload Study, Final Report to the Legislature, Parole and
Community Services Division, CDC, December 30, 1998.

98.

Parole Classification and Workload Study, Final Report to the Legislature, Parole and
Community Services Division, CDC, December 30, 1998.

99.

Ibid.

100.

Richard Rimmer, Deputy Director, Department of Corrections, Parole & Community
Services Division. Meeting with Commission staff, August 26, 2003.

101.

Joan Petersilia, "When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry, Oxford
University Press, 2003, citing Logan 1993, p.72-73.

102.

Correctional Assessment and Intervention System (CAIS), brochure, The National
Council on Crime and Delinquency.

103.

Leo Pierini, Parole Agent, Parole & Community Services Division, Fugitive Recovery
Enforcement Team, CDC, Personal communication, August 22, 2003.

104.

Christy Quinlan, Chief Information Officer and Wendy Still, Chief Financial Officer,
Department of Corrections. Written testimony to Assembly Select Committee on Prison
Construction and Operations, August 6, 2003.

105.

Carol Meraji, Chief Information Officers, State of Washington, Personal communication,
September 4, 2003.

106.

Peter Jensen, Undersecretary, Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, Testimony to the
Commission, January 23, 2002.

107.

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
"Prisoners in 2002." July 2003.

98

APPENDICES & NOTES
108.

Richard Rimmer, Deputy Director of Parole and Community Services Division and other
PC&D staff, Meeting with Commission staff, August 26, 2003.

109.

Correctional Assessment and Intervention System (CAIS), brochure, The National
Council on Crime and Delinquency

110.

California Department of Corrections, Parole and Community Services Division Fiscal
Year 2003-04. Written document submitted to the Legislature dated January 29, 2003.

111.

Department of Corrections. "California Prisoners and Parolees 2001." Table 48A.

112.

Little Hoover Commission, "Beyond Bars: Correctional Reforms to Lower Prison Costs
and Reduce Crime," January 1998, p.69. and CDC, "Preventing Parolee Failure
Program, An Evaluation," April 1997.

113.

Lou Blanas, Sheriff, Sacramento County, Public Meeting with the Little Hoover
Commission, June 26, 2003.

114.

Senate Office of Research, "Department of Corrections Reentry Efforts Fall Short of
Preparing Felons for Return to Society," June 2003 citing Deering's California Codes,
1993.

115.

Senate Office of Research, "Department of Corrections Reentry Efforts Fall Short of
Preparing Felons for Return to Society," June 2003 citing California Penal Code,
1170.2.

116.

Joan Petersilia, "When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry, Oxford
University Press, 2003, citing Logan 1993, p.27.

117.

Little Hoover Commission, "Beyond Bars: Correctional Reforms to Lower Prison Costs
and Reduce Crime," January 1988.

118.

Joan Petersilia, "Meeting the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry," Margaret Mead Address,
International Community Corrections Association, November 4, 2002.

119.

J.R. Griggs, Joint Venture Program, CDC, Personal communication, August 1, 2003
and September 30, 2003 and Rob Churchill, Supervisor of Corrections Education
Programs for the Southern Region, CDC, Personal communication, October 21, 2003.

120.

Governor's Budget 2003-04.

121.

Andy Hsia-Coron, Chair, Professional Educators and Librarians, California State
Employees Union, Personal communication, September, 2003.

122.

Final Action Report 2003-04, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review, Subcommittee 2,
Page 2-7.

123.

Little Hoover Commission. "For Our Health & Safety: Joining Forces to Defeat
Addiction." March, 2003, p. 59.

124.

Letter from James P. Mayer, Executive Director, Little Hoover Commission, to Senator
Richard Polanco, March 27, 2001.

125.

Richard Fausset, Times Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Inmate Kept in Cells to Save
Money," June 3, 2003 and "State Steps Up Prison Lockdowns," June 5, 2003.

126.

Department of Corrections, Data Analysis Unit. "Number of New Admissions and Parole
Violators With a New Term Who Paroled From SHU, During Calendar Year 2000, 2001,
2002 and through August 31, 2003." Renee L. Hansen, Manager, CDC Legislative
Liaison Office, Personal communication, September 15, 2003.

127.

Joan Petersilia, "When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Reentry," Oxford University
Press, 2003, p. 173

99

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
128.

Ibid.

129.

Ibid,.p 172-173.

130.

Ibid, and New York Post, "Post-Prison Reform: How The System Should Work Smarter
at Helping Ex-cons Go Straight", June 15, 2003.

131.

Little Hoover Commission Parole Subcommittee meeting with San Quentin State Prison
Warden Jeanne Woodford, August 21, 2003.

132.

New York Post, "Post-Prison Reform: How The System Should Work Smarter at Helping
Ex-cons Go Straight", June 15, 2003.

133.

Richard Brown, Ed.D., Chair AB 3005 Advisory Committee on Correctional Education,
Personal communication, September 10, 2003.

134.

"The Oregon Accountability Model: Criminal Risk Factor and Case Planning
Component," http://www.doc.state.or.us

135.

California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General, "Criminal Justice
Profiles - Statewide, Counties and Cities, 2001."

136.

Shirley Poe, East Bay District Administrator, Parole & Community Services Division,
CDC, in personal communication, October 22, 2003 stated there are approximately
10,000 adults on parole and probation in Oakland. The CDC Data Analysis Unit
Report, "County and Region of Parole, Calendar Year 2001," May 2002, indicates
90 percent of parolees released to Alameda County are male. U.S. Census Bureau,
Census 2000, "Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000, Oakland,
California" reports there are 142,159 adult males in Oakland.

137.

City of Oakland officials, Testimony to the Commission, February 27, 2003.

138.

Corrections Reform Package provided electronically by David Panush, Assistant Fiscal
Policy Advisor, California Senate, August 18, 2003.

139.

Thomas Powers, Deputy Director, Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, former
deputy director, California Conservation Corps, Personal communication.

140.

California Department of Corrections, "Historical Trends 1981-2001," Table 8.

141.

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
"Special Report, Trends in State Parole, 1990-2000." October 2001.

142.

CDC, Historical Trends, 1982-2002, Table 8. (125,991 released in 2001, 117,310
released in 2002). The number of participants served is detailed in the Parolee Programs
chart on page 21-22.

143.

Penal Code Section 3000.

144.

Joan Petersilia, "The Challenges of Prisoner Reentry and Parole in California," California
Policy Research Center Brief, Vol.12, No.3, June 2000.

145.

Legislative Analyst's Office, "Analysis of the 1998-99 Budget Bill, Criminal Justice
Crosscutting Issues."

146.

Ibid.

147.

Ibid.

148.

Little Hoover Commission, Public meeting with local law enforcement officials,
June 26, 2003.

100

APPENDICES & NOTES
149.

As of July 2003, there were 884 Community Correctional Re-entry slots, Renee L.
Hansen, Manager, Legislative Liaison Office, CDC, Written communication,
October 3, 2003. There are 8,200 in-prison substance abuse treatment slots and
aftercare is budgeted for one half of those who participate, Jim L'Etoile, Assistant
Director, CDC, Office of Substance Abuse, Written communication, October 2003.

150.

Richard Rimmer, Deputy Director, Parole and Community Services Division, California
Department of Correction, Personal communication, October 7, 2003.

151.

Department of Corrections, "California Prisoners and Parolees, 2001," Table 45. (32,786
absconded from parole supervision. Year end population was listed as 117,377.
32,786 equals 28 percent of 117,377.)

152.

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics,
"Probation and Parole in the United States, 2001". August 2002.

153.

Little Hoover Commission, Public meeting with local law enforcement officials,
June 26, 2003.

154.

Ibid.

155.

Ibid. (Oakland Police Chief Richard Word)

156.

Ibid. (Sacramento Police Chief Albert Najera)

157.

Joan Petersilia, "When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry," Oxford
University Press, 2003, p.125-26.

158.

CDC, "California Prisoners and Parolees 2000" (Felon Parole Movements by Sex) and
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
"Trends in State Parole, 1990-2000."

159.

Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Personal communication,
October 22, 2003.

160.

California Penal Code section 4852.01

161.

Joan Petersilia, "When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry," Oxford
University Press, 2003, p. 217.

162.

Ibid, p.172.

163.

Ibid, p.199-202.

164.

Ibid, p. 202-203.

165.

Ibid, p. 202-203.

166.

Richard Rimmer, Deputy Director, Parole and Community Services, California
Department of Corrections, Personal communication, August 26, 2003.

167.

Nancy G. LaVigne, Vera Kachnowski with Jeremy Travis, Rebecca Naser, and Christy
Visher, Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, "A Portrait of Prisoner Re-entry in
Maryland," March 2003.

168.

Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Testimony to the Commission,
February 27, 2003.

101

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
169.

http://www.doc.state.or.us/oam/comm_suprvisn_prgms.shtml. "The Oregon
Accountability Model Community Supervision and Programs." Web site accessed
October 15, 2003.

170.

James Austin, Ph.D.,Director, George Washington University Institute on Crime,
Justice and Corrections, Little Hoover Commission Advisory Committee Meeting,
February 23, 2003.

171.

Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York,
Written communication, September 18, 2003.

172.

Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York,
Testimony to the Little Hoover Commission, January 23, 2003.

173.

"Assessment of California Parole Violations and Recommended Intermediate Programs
and Policies," Prepared by James Austin, Ph.D. and Robert Lawson, National Council on
Crime and Delinquency, February 18, 1998.

174.

2003-04 Budget Bill under consideration by the Conference Committee, staff analysis of
proposed CDC Reforms and Efficiencies, David Panush, June 6, 2003.

175.

Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Testimony to the Commission,
February 27, 2003.

176.

Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute , Written testimony to the Commission,
February 27, 2003.

177.

Little Hoover Commission Advisory Committee Meeting, January 6, 2003.

178.

Daphane Hicks, Parole & Community Services Division, CDC, Personal communication,
July 9, 2003.

179.

Little Hoover Commission, Advisory Committee Meeting, January 6, 2003.

180.

Ibid.

181.

Michael P. Jacobson, Ph.D., Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York,
Testimony to the Commission, January 23, 2003.

182.

Sharon Jackson, Assistant Deputy Director, Parole & Community Services Division,
CDC, Written communication, May 12, 2003.

183.

Personal Communication. Keith Matsuo, Regional Parole Administrator, Region III,
CDC. August 25, 2003. Lynda Ward, Regional Parole Administrator, Region II, CDC.
August 27, 2003. Bonnie Long-Oliver, Regional Parole Administrator, Region I, CDC.
August 27, 2003.

184.

California Department of Corrections, Parole and Community Services Division Fiscal
Year 2003-04. Written document submitted to the Legislature dated January 29, 2003.

185.

James Austin, Ph.D. and Robert Lawson, National Council on Crime and Delinquency
"Assessment of California Parole Violations and Recommended Intermediate Programs
and Policies," February 18, 1998.

186.

Joan Petersilia, "When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry," Oxford
University Press, 2003.

102

APPENDICES & NOTES
187.

James Austin, George Washington University and Patricia L. Hardyman, Criminal
Justice Institute, "The Risks and Needs of the Returning Prisoner Population, "
Presented at From Prisons to Home Conference, U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, June 30-31, 2002.

188.

Joan Petersilia, “ A Decade of Experimenting with Intermediate Sanctions: What Have
We Learned,” Perspectives, (Winter):42. 1999. From "Responding to Parole and
Probation Violations: A Handbook to Guide Local Policy Development," U.S. Department
of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, April 2001.

189.

"A Decade of Experimenting with Intermediate Sanctions: What Have We Learned?"
Presentation by Joan Petersilia, Ph.D., Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society,
University of California at Irvine, April 1, 1998, Washington, D.C.

190.

Ibid.

191.

Ibid.

192.

California Department of Corrections, “California Prisoners and Parolees 2001,"
Table 42.

193.

Ibid.

194.

Ibid.

195.

Department of Corrections. "California Prisoners & Parolees 2001," Table 42.
Department of Corrections. "Time Served on Prison Sentence, Felons First Released to
Parole by Offense, Calendar Year 2000," Table 1.

196.

Board of Prison Terms, YACA Valdivia Proposal, material provided electronically to the
Commission by Don Specter, Director, Prison Law Office, August 28, 2003.

197.

Personal Communication, David R. La Bahn, Deputy Executive Director, California
District Attorneys Association, August 26, 2003.

198.

Ibid.

Text Box Endnotes
Impact of Determinate Sentencing Laws on Parole Policy. Sources: CQ Research, "Mandatory

Sentencing, "May 26, 1995. Congressional Quarterly, Inc. Volume 5, No. 20, pages 465-488. In
re Lee, 177 Cal. 690, 692-3, (1918). Michael Tonry, "Reconsidering Indeterminate and
Structured Sentencing," "Sentencing & Corrections Issues for the 21st Century." National
Institute of Justice. September 1999. Little Hoover Commission, "Putting Violence Behind
Bars: Redefining the Role of California's Prisons",1994. Written testimony and reports collected
for that study. Robert Martinson, "What Works? Questions and Answers About Prison
Reform", "The Public Interest," 10, pp.22-54. 1974.Franklin E. Zimring. "Reform and
Punishment: Essays on Criminal Sentencing." 1983. University of Chicago Press.Joan
Petersilia, "Challenges of Prisoner Reentry and Parole in California." California Policy Research
Center Brief Series. June 2000. Jerry Brown, Mayor, City of Oakland, Testimony to the
Commission, February 27, 2003. Survey participants included the Honorable Bill Lockyer,
Attorney General, State of California, James Q. Wilson, Ph.D., Pepperdine University, School of
Public Policy, Franklin E. Zimring, William G. Simon Professor of Law, Boalt Hall School of
Law, University of California, Berkeley, Jack Riley, Director, RAND Public Safety and Justice,
Susan Turner, Ph.D., Associate Director, RAND Public Safety and Justice, Michael P.
Jacobson, Ph.D., Department of Law and Police Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice,
James Austin, Ph.D., Director, Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections, John J. Dilulio, Jr.,

103

LITTLE HOOVER COMMISSION
Senior Fellow, Governance Studies Program, The Brookings Institute, Peter W. Greenwood,
Ph.D., Greenwood Associates, Barry Krisberg, Ph.D., National Council on Crime &
Delinquency, Joan Petersilia, Ph.D., Department of Criminology, Law & Society, University of
California, Irvine, Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute, Honorable James R. Milliken,
San Diego Superior Court.

Alternatives and Cost Estimate for Denying Early Release Credits. Prior to implementation of a
policy, more detailed costs estimates should be calculated based on actual CDC inmate release
data. The cost estimates in this chart are based on a variety of estimates and assumptions.
87,000 inmates in 2003 were assigned full-time placements to earn work credits. There were
approximately 160,000 inmates in 2002-03. This equates to 54 percent earning work credits.
In 2001, 125,991 offenders were released to parole. Of these 44 percent were first releases,
including parole violators serving a new term. Assuming 54 percent of all offenders released to
parole in 2001 earned work credits, 68,035 could be affected by denying early release credits.
Of these, 29,935 or 44 percent would be first releases and 38,100 would be parole violators rereleased. The annual cost to house offenders is $28,500. The chart depicts the costs of
denying 20 percent of the eligible offender population early release credit. Incarceration costs
were derived by multiplying the number of affected inmates (20 percent of 68,035, 29,935 and
38,100) by the average months of earned release credit (12 months for first releases and 2.6
months for parole violators) and the cost of incarceration ($28,500 annually, or $2,375
monthly). Hearing costs were derived by multiplying the number of inmates releasing (68,035,
29,935 and 38,100) by $293, the average cost of a parole revocation hearing. Assuming
20 percent were denied release, 20 percent would require an additional hearing for an appeal.
(20 percent of 68,035, 29,935 and 38,100 multiplied by $293).
Sources: Legislative Analyst's Office, "Analysis of the 2003-04 Budget Bill." CDC, "Historical
Trends 1981-2001," Tables 8 and 9. CDC Quarterly Fact Sheet, Second Quarter 2003. CDC,
"Spring 2003 Population Projections, "p. 12, and CDC, "Time Served on Prison Sentence,
Felons First Released to Parole by Offense." CDC, "Time Served on Prison Sentence, Felons
First Released to Parole by Offense" and CDC, "California Prisoners and Parolees 2001," Table
42. Kenneth E. Cater, Chief Deputy Commissioner, Board of Prison Terms, Written
communication, June 9, 2003. Brian Brown, Criminal Justice Policy Analyst, Legislative
Analyst's Office, Personal communication, August 28, 2003.

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