Skip navigation

Cdcr Ca Audit Not Following Parole Release Policies 2008

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation:
It Does Not Always Follow Its Policies When Discharging Parolees
August 2008 Report 2008-104

CALIFORNIA
S TAT E A U D I T O R

The first five copies of each California State Auditor report are free. Additional copies are $3 each, payable by
check or money order. You can obtain reports by contacting the Bureau of State Audits at the following address:
California State Auditor
Bureau of State Audits
555 Capitol Mall, Suite 300
Sacramento, California 95814
916.445.0255 or TTY 916.445.0033
OR
This report is also available on the World Wide Web http://www.bsa.ca.gov
The California State Auditor is pleased to announce the availability of an on-line subscription service. For
information on how to subscribe, please contact the Information Technology Unit at 916.445.0255, ext. 456,
or visit our Web site at www.bsa.ca.gov.
Alternate format reports available upon request.
Permission is granted to reproduce reports.
For questions regarding the contents of this report,
please contact Margarita Fernández, Chief of Public Affairs, at 916.445.0255.

Elaine M. Howle
State Auditor

CALIFORNIA STATE AUDITOR

Doug Cordiner
Chief Deputy

Bureau of State Audits

555 Capitol Mall, Suite 300

S a c r a m e n t o, C A 9 5 8 1 4

August 26, 2008	

916.445.0255

916.327.0019 fax

w w w. b s a . c a . g o v

2008-104

The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California  95814
Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:
As requested by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, the Bureau of State Audits presents its
audit report concerning the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (Corrections) adult
parole discharge practices.
This report concludes that Corrections does not always follow its policies when discharging
parolees. With the exception of deported parolees, its policies require parole agents to initiate
a discharge review report for all eligible parolees. Corrections’ data indicate that a total of
56,329  parolees were discharged between January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008. During this
15-month period, Corrections’ data also shows that responsible parole units did not complete
discharge review reports for 2,458 deported parolees and 2,523 other parolees, and that
Corrections lost jurisdiction over these individuals. We also found that Corrections’ district
administrators, operating within their authority to exercise judgment, often discharged parolees
without documenting the basis for their decisions despite staff recommendations to retain
parolees. Moreover, we found that the appropriate authority did not participate in making the
decisions to retain or discharge six of 83 parolees whose discharge reviews we evaluated for
compliance with Corrections’ policies. In four cases, Corrections’ Board of Parole Hearings
(board) should have made the final decision to retain or discharge the parolees, but was not
given that opportunity. Corrections’ staff should have sent the other two cases to a district
administrator for either a decision to discharge or a recommendation to the board to retain the
parolees, but staff did not do so.
In response to these issues, Corrections reported that it has taken certain immediate corrective
measures and has drafted new regulations and a new policy memorandum that, if implemented,
will govern its parole discharge process. Among other things, Corrections reported that its
new draft policy will require that discharge review reports be prepared for deported parolees,
and that district administrators document the basis for discharging parolees contrary to staff
recommendations. Finally, changes to state law and proposed revisions to Corrections’ policies,
if implemented, could increase the district administrator’s role and authority in the discharge
review process.
Respectfully submitted,

ELAINE M. HOWLE
State Auditor

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Contents
Summary	

1

Introduction	

5

Audit Results	
The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Failed to Adhere
Consistently to Its Discharge Policies	

13

Corrections Is Taking Actions to Address Discharge Review Reports
That Were Altered Inappropriately	

27

Pending Changes Could Expand the District Administrator’s Role and
Authority in the Discharge Process	

28

Recommendations	

30

Response to the Audit
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation	

33

California State Auditor’s Comments on the Response
From the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation	

35

vii

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Summary
Results in Brief

Audit Highlights . . .

The California Penal Code, Section 3000, requires the Department
of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections) to release on parole
its prison inmates, upon completion of their prison terms, unless
Corrections’ Board of Parole Hearings (board) waives parole. Parole
includes a combination of supervision, surveillance, and counseling.
Laws for the State of California (State) require that parolees must be
discharged from parole within 30 days of completing their required
period of continuous parole unless Corrections recommends that
the parolees be retained and the board approves their retention
with good cause. With the exception of deported parolees,1
Corrections’ policies require that the parole agent responsible for
supervising a parolee initiate a discharge review report when the
parolee has served the required period of continuous parole and
that the parole agent recommend whether to retain or discharge
the parolee. Although the parole agent’s unit supervisor can
discharge a parolee in many cases, Corrections’ policies require the
district administrator, who oversees parole supervision in his or
her respective district, or the board to discharge those who meet
certain criteria.

Our review of the Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation’s (Corrections) adult
parole discharge practices found that:

Corrections’ data shows that a total of 56,329 parolees were
discharged between January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008.
During this 15‑month period, Corrections’ data indicate that the
responsible parole units did not submit discharge review reports
for 4,981, or 9 percent, of these parolees and that Corrections
lost jurisdiction over these individuals. Nearly half of these cases
involved deported parolees for whom Corrections’ current policies
require only that parole staff prepare formal discharge review
reports if staff wish to retain the parolees. Its policies direct parole
units—before relinquishing jurisdiction over the parolee—to run
a criminal history report one month before a deported parolee’s
discharge review date to ensure that the deported parolee has not
reentered the United States. However, criminal history reports have
limited value because they reveal whether a deported parolee had
reentered the United States only if he or she has committed a crime
since deportation. In the absence of any evidence that the deportee
has reentered the United States, parole staff may recommend that
a deported parolee be retained due to any case factors that would
significantly affect community safety should the parolee reenter

»» Because of errors made by Corrections’
Case Records Office, the appropriate
authority did not participate in
making the decisions to retain or
discharge six of the 83 parolees
whose discharge reviews we evaluated for
compliance with Corrections’ policies.

1	

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement may place a hold on all confirmed illegal
immigrants in Corrections’ custody. Upon release to parole, these parolees transfer to federal
custody pending deportation to their country of origin. Corrections monitors the status of these
parolees during the deportation process. Throughout the report, we refer to these individuals
as deported parolees. Corrections’ current policies allow parole staff to use their discretion on
whether to prepare discharge review reports for deported parolees.

»» Corrections’ data indicate that the
responsible parole units did not submit
discharge review reports for 4,981, or
9 percent, of the 56,329 parolees
discharged between January 1, 2007, and
March 31, 2008, and that Corrections lost
jurisdiction over these individuals.
»» District administrators, operating within
their authority to exercise judgment,
at times discharged parolees despite
the parole agents’ and unit supervisors’
recommendations to retain the parolees
without documenting the reasons for
their decisions.

»» Corrections reported that it has taken
immediate corrective measures and has
drafted new policies that, if implemented,
will govern its parole discharge process.
»» Changes to state law that became
effective January 1, 2008, and proposed
revisions to Corrections’ policies—if
implemented—could increase each
district administrator’s role and authority
in the discharge review process.

1

2

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

the United States. However, because Corrections does not require
parole staff to document their review of deported parolees’ criminal
history reports or other factors found in the parolees’ case files,
we could not determine whether staff reviewed these criminal
history reports and other case factors for deported parolees before
Corrections relinquished jurisdiction over them. The remaining
discharged parolees who did not receive discharge review reports
were not deported parolees, but the responsible parole units
had failed to follow policy and submit the required reports.
Consequently, Corrections lost its opportunity to recommend
that the board retain these parolees, whose number included
363 individuals originally convicted of violent or serious offenses.
Our review of a sample of 509 of the 18,471 parolees whom unit
supervisors or district administrators reportedly discharged
between January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008, showed that
Corrections did not always follow its discharge policies. We found
that Corrections’ central files did not contain a record of completed
discharge review reports for seven of the 509 parolees whose files
we reviewed. However, because one of these discharged parolees
was deported, Corrections’ policies did not require a discharge
report. Corrections was later able to provide us with a copy of a
completed discharge report for another of the seven parolees, but
it could not demonstrate that its staff had completed discharge
reports for the remaining five parolees whose commitment offenses
included fraud for monetary gain and possession of narcotics
for sale.
In response to these issues, Corrections reported in August 2008
that it has implemented an immediate measure that will
significantly reduce the number of lost jurisdiction cases in
the future. Specifically, Corrections asserts that it has ordered
two assistant regional administrators to review the case of every
parolee who is about to discharge to ensure that a discharge
review has been completed. Under the new measure, if the
assistant administrators identify a case in which Corrections will
lose jurisdiction due to the absence of a discharge review report,
the administrators must immediately have one completed or
immediately recommend to the board that the parolee be retained
so that jurisdiction is not lost. In addition, Corrections reports that
a forthcoming policy will require parole staff to prepare discharge
review reports for deported parolees.
Additionally, our review indicated that in 31 instances, district
administrators, operating within their authority to exercise
judgment, discharged parolees despite the parole agents’ and unit
supervisors’ recommendations to retain the parolees. In 15 of these
31 instances, district administrators did not provide explanations for
overruling these recommendations and discharging the parolees.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Parole staff recommended retaining these 15 parolees, 13 of whom
were either deported or in federal custody, based on various case
factors such as the risk they posed to the community. Although
Corrections’ current policies do not require district administrators
to document the basis for discharging parolees despite staff
recommendations to retain, Corrections has drafted a new policy
that, if implemented, will require such documentation.
For 83 of the 509 parole discharges that we reviewed, we performed
additional testing to determine whether Corrections followed all
of its discharge policies. We found that because of errors made by
Corrections’ Case Records Office, the appropriate authority did
not participate in making the decisions to retain or discharge six
of these parolees. In four cases the board should have made the
final decision to retain or discharge the parolees, but was not given
the opportunity. Corrections’ staff should have sent the other two
cases to district administrators for either a decision to discharge or
a recommendation to the board to retain the parolees, but staff did
not do so. In all six of these cases, the parolees were discharged.
Further, Corrections’ audit of 6,380 discharge reviews completed
between August 2007 and May 2008 identified instances of
noncompliance with its policies. However, Corrections was unable
to give us accurate data on the number of cases of noncompliance
identified through these limited scope audits. In addition, the
types of noncompliance are unknown because regional and district
administrators who conducted the audits did not record this
information during their reviews.
Moreover, in December 2007, Corrections reported that one of its
district administrators discharged parolees after altering discharge
review reports prepared by parole agents and unit supervisors who
had recommended retaining the parolees. Corrections referred
the case to the State’s Office of the Inspector General, which
investigated the district administrator and determined that he
may have used poor judgment but found no evidence of criminal
or administrative misconduct. In response to this situation,
Corrections plans to issue a new policy that will apply to the entire
department and that will prohibit unit supervisors and district
administrators from altering discharge review reports prepared
by others. Finally, changes to state law that became effective
January 1, 2008, and proposed revisions to Corrections’ policies—if
implemented—could increase each district administrator’s role and
authority in the discharge review process.

3

4

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Recommendations
To prevent the automatic discharge of parolees, Corrections should
make certain that parole staff prepare discharge review reports
promptly for all eligible parolees.
Corrections should finalize and implement the draft policy
memorandum that will detail the policy and procedures governing
its parole discharge process. The new policy should prohibit unit
supervisors and district administrators from altering discharge
review reports prepared by others. In addition, the new policy
should require district administrators to document their
justifications for discharging parolees against the recommendations
of both parole agents and unit supervisors. Finally, the new policy
should require that parole staff prepare discharge review reports for
deported parolees.
To ensure that parolees are discharged in accordance with its
policies and state laws, Corrections should ensure that the
appropriate authority makes the decisions to discharge or
retain parolees.
Agency Comments
Corrections agrees with the findings in our report and indicates
that it is taking corrective action to address these issues.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Introduction
Background
The mission of the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (Corrections) is to enhance public safety through
safe and secure incarceration of offenders, effective parole
supervision, and rehabilitative strategies that successfully reintegrate
offenders into communities. Corrections operates California’s state
prisons, oversees a variety of community correctional facilities,
and supervises all parolees during their reentry into society. The
California Penal Code, Section 3000, requires Corrections to release
on parole its prison inmates, upon completion of their prison
terms, unless Corrections’ Board of Parole Hearings (board) waives
parole. Parole includes a combination of supervision, surveillance,
and counseling provided by Corrections’ Division of Adult Parole
Operations (adult parole). Adult parole is divided into four regions
within the State of California (State); these regions encompass
25 districts and 179 parole units. Geographically, region one covers
primarily the eastern border of the State from Siskiyou to Kern
counties; region two mostly spans the western border from Del Norte
to Ventura counties; region three is Los Angeles County; and
region four covers the remainder of Southern California including
San Bernardino County through Imperial and San Diego counties.
Within each of the 25 districts, unit supervisors report to district
administrators and manage the overall parole supervision efforts at
the unit level, including the supervision of parole agents. District
administrators oversee overall parole supervision efforts in their
districts. Adult parole is also responsible for discharging parolees
from parole, and it may also recommend that the board retain a
parolee. Under the California Penal Code, sections 3000.1, 3001(b),
and 3001(c), the board is responsible for discharging and retaining
certain parolees. According to data obtained from Corrections
on May 2, 2008, it discharged 38,565 felon parolees during 2006
and 44,078 during 2007.
Corrections’ Process for Discharging Parolees From State Supervision
State law requires that adult parolees be discharged from parole
within 30 days of completing their required period of continuous
parole unless Corrections, via the board, finds good cause to retain
them. State law bases parolees’ required period of continuous
parole upon the length of their parole period. For example, an
individual not convicted of a violent crime, as defined by California
Penal Code, Section 667.5(c), and placed on three years of parole
is eligible for discharge once he or she has served at least one year
of continuous parole. State regulations provide that a parolee is

5

6

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

on continuous parole if the parolee has not absconded parole
supervision or had parole revoked since initial release on parole.
A Corrections’ policy memorandum further defines continuous
parole as a parole period with no interruptions because of previous
actions taken by the board. The law allows Corrections to retain
parolees if the board determines that good cause exists. State law
does not, however, dictate the process that Corrections must follow
to discharge a parolee. Rather, it authorizes Corrections to prescribe
rules and regulations to do so.
As Figure 1 shows, under Corrections’ current discharge process,2
unit supervisors generally have the authority to discharge parolees
unless they are registered sex offenders, have validated gang
associations or activity, or have committed violent or serious crimes
as defined by the California Penal Code, sections 667.5(c) and
1192.7(c), within the last 10 years. District administrators generally
have the final authority to discharge registered sex offender parolees
and those who have committed violent or serious crimes or have
validated gang associations, memberships, or affiliations. However,
under state law, only the board has the authority to retain parolees
on parole. Further, state law and Corrections’ current policies
specify that only the board has the authority to discharge parolees
if the board has previously taken actions against their parole terms,
including suspending or revoking their parole or retaining them
on parole.
Corrections’ current policies3 generally require its parole
agents to begin the discharge review process for an eligible
parolee by initiating a discharge review report. The parole
agent must document on the discharge review report his or her
recommendation as to whether the parolee should be discharged or
retained, along with the circumstances on which the parole agent
based the recommendation. The parole agent must then forward
the report to the appropriate unit supervisor, who reviews the
report and any supplemental materials and completes his or her
section of the discharge review report with a recommendation to
discharge or retain the parolee. If Corrections’ policy requires the
case to undergo further review, as it does if the parolee committed
the type of violent offense described in Figure 1, or if the unit
supervisor recommends retention, the unit supervisor must
forward the discharge review report to a district administrator. In
such instances the policy directs the district administrator to review
the report and record on the discharge review report his or her
decision to discharge or a recommendation to retain. The
2	

Different parole requirements exist for offenses committed before July 1, 1977. However, because
our sample did not include these cases, this report does not depict or discuss such offenses.
3	 Adult parole’s operations manual and various policy memoranda document Corrections’
discharge process. Throughout the report, we collectively refer to these sources as policies.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Figure 1
The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Authority to
Discharge Parolees as of May 15, 2007
Are any of the following true?
The parolee committed a violent* or serious felony† within the past 10 years.
The parolee is a registered sex offender.
The parolee has gang associations or activity.
The parolee had a prior Board of Parole Hearings (board) action.
The unit supervisor recommends the parolee’s retention on parole.
Yes

No

Forward discharge review report
to the district administrator.

Are either of the following true?

Unit Supervisor

The board had taken a prior action against the parolee’s
parole that has interrupted continuous parole.

Has authority to discharge.

The district administrator recommends the parolee’s
retention on parole.
Yes

No

Forward discharge review report
to the board.

Board of Parole Hearings

District Administrator

Must make the final decision
to discharge or retain.

Has authority to discharge.

Sources:  California Penal Code, sections 3000.1, 3001, 667.5, and 1192.7, and various Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation policy documents.
*	 The California Penal Code, Section 667.5 (c), defines violent felonies, which include felonies such
as murder, rape, robbery, arson, kidnapping, and sexual abuse.
†	 The California Penal Code, Section 1192.7 (c), defines serious felonies, which include felonies such
as manslaughter, rape, attempted murder, and assault with a deadly weapon.

district administrator generally has the authority to discharge a
parolee who has been on continuous parole and who has no prior
board actions. However, if the district administrator recommends
retention on parole, he or she must forward the discharge review
report to the board for final action.
According to Corrections’ chief of Case Records services,
once the unit supervisor or district administrator adds the
final recommendation, the discharge review report is sent to
Corrections’ Case Records Office, where staff review the case
to determine, among other things, whether the appropriate entity
authorized the final decision to discharge or retain the parolee.
As appropriate, the Case Records Office may forward discharge
review reports to the board, return them to the unit level requiring

7

8

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

further action, or process complete discharge review reports
and notify the responsible parole unit of a parolee’s discharge
or retention.
Notwithstanding the previous discussion, Corrections’ current
policies do not require staff to complete discharge review reports
when discharging deported parolees. According to a parole agent III
in Corrections’ Policies and Procedures Unit, United States
Immigration and Customs Enforcement may place a hold on all
confirmed illegal immigrants in Corrections’ custody. Upon release
to parole, these state parolees, referred to in this report as deported
parolees, will transfer to federal custody pending deportation to
their country of origin. Corrections will monitor these parolees’
status through the deportation process. Corrections’ current
policies require staff to run a record check one month before a
deported parolees’ discharge review date. If there is no indication
that the parolee has reentered the United States and committed
a crime, the parolee will discharge by operation of law, when
eligible. In this situation, Corrections currently does not require
staff to prepare a discharge review report. However, Corrections’
policy states that staff can submit a discharge review report
recommending that a deported parolee be retained on parole if
case factors could significantly affect community safety should the
parolee reenter the United States.
In addition to the absence of good cause for retaining a parolee,
several conditions can dictate parolee discharge. For example, if
Corrections does not initiate the discharge review process for an
eligible parolee, the parolee is automatically discharged 30 days after
becoming eligible for discharge as required by law, and Corrections
loses jurisdiction over the parolee. In addition, state law specifies
a maximum period, based on the parole period, that Corrections
and the board may retain certain parolees. Once these parolees
reach the maximum statutorily allowed parole period, Corrections
must discharge them. Corrections might also discharge a parolee
to another jurisdiction if the parolee receives a commitment to
federal prison, to another state’s prison, or to a local jurisdiction for
a period that exceeds the California parole period. For example, we
found that Corrections discharged a parolee whose prison sentence
in another state was longer than the maximum parole period
allowed under statute in California.
As discussed later in the report, Corrections data indicate that
56,329 parolees were discharged between January 1, 2007, and
March 31, 2008, and almost half of them were discharged because
they had reached the maximum parole period allowed under
statute. Collectively, unit supervisors and district administrators
completed discharge reviews for and then discharged 18,471
parolees, or 33 percent of those discharged during that period.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Scope and Methodology
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee (audit committee) requested
that the Bureau of State Audits (bureau) examine Corrections’
adult parole discharge practices. Specifically, the audit committee
requested that we review Corrections’ discharge policies and
protocols and determine whether they comply with applicable
laws and regulations. The audit committee also asked us to review
Corrections’ internal controls over its parole discharge process and
determine whether they are sufficient to ensure compliance with
Corrections’ policies and state law and to identify inappropriate
employee conduct. In addition, the audit committee requested
that we ascertain whether a sample of parolees were discharged
in accordance with staff recommendations and to determine, to
the extent possible, the frequency with which parolees received
discharges contrary to staff recommendations. Further, the audit
committee asked us to assess whether Corrections discharged a
sample of parolees in accordance with its policies, protocols, and
applicable laws and regulations. The audit committee also requested
that we determine whether Corrections took any corrective action
as a result of an internal investigation of one of its regions. Finally,
the audit committee asked us to review any proposed changes to
laws, regulations, policies, and protocols to determine any potential
changes in efficiency and effectiveness related to the discharge
process and the extent to which those changes might affect the
parole administrators’ authority.
To evaluate whether Corrections’ discharge policies and procedures
comply with applicable state laws and regulations, we identified,
reviewed, and compared the two and found that Corrections’
discharge policies and procedures do adhere to state laws and
regulations. To identify its internal controls over the discharge
process, we reviewed Corrections’ policies and conducted
interviews with its personnel. We also assessed whether the
controls are sufficient to ensure compliance with state law and
Corrections’ discharge policies and whether they are adequate to
identify any employee misconduct.
To determine whether district administrators discharged parolees
in accordance with staff recommendations and to assess the
frequency with which parolees were discharged contrary to staff
recommendations, we obtained information from the Offender
Based Information System, a Corrections database, for all parolees
discharged between January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008. This
database includes information on parolees discharged through
several processes. However, using certain discharge codes that
Corrections uses in the database, we identified those parolees
who were discharged by either unit supervisors or district
administrators. We randomly selected 523 of these discharges.

9

10

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

However, we found that the board had discharged nine of these
parolees and files for several discharges were unavailable for review.
We reviewed files for the remaining 509 discharges to determine
whether appropriate personnel prepared a discharge review and,
when a district administrator was involved, whether his or her
discharge decision agreed with the recommendations from parole
unit staff. We judgmentally selected and further analyzed 83 of
these discharge reviews to determine whether they complied with
all applicable policies, laws, and regulations.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office, whose standards we
follow, requires us to assess the reliability of computer‑processed
data. We assessed the reliability of Corrections’ database by
performing electronic testing of key data elements, by testing the
accuracy and completeness of the data by confirming information
for a random sample of records, and by ensuring that a haphazardly
selected sample of hard‑copy records were present in the data. To
evaluate the accuracy of the database, we selected a random sample
of 60 discharges and tested whether source documents support the
values in key data fields. For three of the 60 selected, we found that
the board had in fact made the discharge decisions even though the
database indicated that either a unit supervisor or a district
administrator had discharged the parolees.
Because our chief concern was ensuring that we did not overlook
discharges at the unit level in our more detailed testing, we
conducted additional testing to make certain that no records
indicate higher level decisions (such as board decisions) that were
in fact made at the unit level. To this end, we selected another
sample of 60 records that the system reflected were not discharged
at the unit level. We found no instances of data indicating that the
board had reviewed a parolee when in fact the case had undergone
review at the unit level. Thus, the errors regarding the party that
discharged parolees do not appear to understate the number of
parolees discharged by unit supervisors or district administrators.
Although additional records included in the population of unit‑level
discharges actually show that the discharges did not occur at the
unit level, we have assurance that we did not exclude unit‑level
discharges from our review. Therefore, although we are aware that
a certain degree of error exists regarding who discharged a parolee,
we do not believe use of this information will lead to an incorrect
or unintentional message and have determined that it is sufficiently
reliable for our purposes.
During the course of our fieldwork, we identified a population
of discharges for which a discharge review was not performed.
We obtained additional information on the nature of the crimes

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

for which these parolees were incarcerated, which is presented
in Table 2 on page 18. Because this information is presented for
informational purposes only, we did not assess its accuracy.
To determine whether Corrections took any corrective actions
following the investigation of parole region one, we interviewed
representatives from Corrections’ headquarters, internal affairs, and
internal audits; from region one; and from the State’s Office of the
Inspector General. We also interviewed the district administrator
in question. From these interviews, we ascertained the status of
the investigations and identified any information relevant to this
audit. We also identified and reviewed any corrective action that
Corrections took or plans to take in response to the investigation.
Finally, we identified any proposed changes to laws, regulations,
policies, and protocols related to the parole discharge process to
determine the intent behind the changes and their impact on the
role and the authority of district administrators.

11

12

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Blank page inserted for reproduction purposes only.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Audit Results
The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Failed to Adhere
Consistently to Its Discharge Policies
The policies of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(Corrections) for the State of California (State) dictate who must
complete a discharge review report and who has the final authority
to discharge parolees; however, Corrections does not always follow
its own policies. With the exception of deported parolees, these
policies require that parole agents initiate a discharge review before
parolees complete their required period of continuous parole and
that the parole agents recommend on a discharge report whether
to discharge or retain the parolees. Unit supervisors must read
discharge review reports and then decide to discharge parolees
or to forward the reports to district administrators. Although in
many cases the unit supervisor may discharge parolees, the district
administrator or the Board of Parole Hearings (board) must review
and discharge certain parolees. Only the board, which is part
of Corrections, has authority to retain a parolee. Our review of
parolees discharged between January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008,
found that Corrections discharged many parolees with no record
that Corrections’ staff reviewed their cases. In addition, without
documenting justifications for their actions, district administrators
sometimes discharged parolees despite the respective parole
agents’ and unit supervisors’ recommendations for retention.
Finally, Corrections did not always ensure that the appropriate
authority participated in discharge decisions. In response to these
issues, Corrections reported that it has taken certain immediate
corrective measures and has drafted new regulations and a new
policy memorandum that, if implemented, will govern its parole
discharge process.
Corrections Did Not Prepare Discharge Review Reports for All
Discharged Parolees
As we discuss in the Introduction, state law requires that
Corrections discharge all eligible parolees unless the board
takes action to retain a parolee for good cause. Any parolee who
completes the required period of continuous parole dictated by
his or her parole period is eligible for discharge. For example,
an individual who was sentenced to state prison for a violent
felony and who received three years of parole would be eligible
for discharge after completing two years of continuous parole.
Corrections discharges parolees 30 days after their continuous
parole period ends, as required by law, unless the board takes
action to retain the parolees. The board must make the final
decision to retain a parolee, and in some cases it must consider

13

14

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

recommendations from Corrections’ staff. Because staff from the
Division of Adult Parole Operations (adult parole) make their
recommendations to the board through the discharge review
report, the board may not retain a parolee unless staff members
complete such a report for that individual.
Corrections’ current policies require parole agents to initiate
discharge reviews for all eligible parolees, except deported
parolees, and to submit discharge review reports to their unit
supervisors. According to the parole administrator of Corrections’
Parole Operations Section, each month unit supervisors
prompt parole agents to complete discharge reviews by giving
them a list of parolees who are due for discharge reviews during
the next 60 days. As Figure 2 shows, a parole agent must submit
a discharge review report to the unit supervisor at least 20 days
before a parolee completes the continuous parole period. The unit
supervisor reviews the report and forwards it to Corrections’ Case
Records Office if he or she recommends discharge and has final
decision‑making authority. If the unit supervisor does not have the
authority to make the final decision, he or she forwards the report
to a district administrator. Discharge reviews should arrive at the
Case Records Office within 20 days after continuous parole ends.
Nonetheless, the Case Records Office will process discharge reports
received up to 30 days after continuous parole ends.
Figure 2
The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Timeline for Preparing and Submitting Discharge Review Reports
Unit supervisors distribute to
parole agents a list of parolees
due for discharge review within
the 60 days before the end of the
continuous parole period.
Term of Parole

The discharge review date is
the last day of the parolee’s
continuous parole period.

Continuous Parole Period
The parole agent must submit
discharge review report to unit
supervisor at least 20 days before the
end of the continuous parole period.

The discharge review report must
arrive at the Case Records Office
within 20 days after the end of
the continuous parole period.

Parolee is discharged
from parole if no action
to retain is taken within
30 days after the end of the
continuous parole period.

Source:  Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (Corrections) policies.
Note:  Corrections’ current policies do not require parole staff to prepare discharge review reports for deported parolees, unless they want to
recommend retaining the parolees.

Despite these policies, we found that Corrections’ central files
contained no record that parole units had completed discharge
reviews for seven of the 509 parolees who were discharged between
January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008, and whose files we reviewed.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Administrators in the Case Records Office stated initially that
these parolees did not receive discharge reviews. Consequently,
as required by law, the parolees would have been automatically
discharged 30 days after becoming eligible for discharge. The
administrators also noted that one of the seven was paroled
to the custody of the United States Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) and was later discharged without a discharge
review report. Corrections’ current policies do not require staff to
complete reports when discharging deported parolees.4 However,
Corrections’ policy states that staff can submit a discharge review
report recommending that a deported parolee be retained on parole
if case factors could significantly affect community safety should
the parolee reenter the United States. Corrections’ policies did
require staff to complete discharge review reports for the remaining
six parolees.
Upon further investigation, Corrections provided us with a
completed discharge review report for one of the remaining
six parolees from its Case Records Office’s archives. Corrections
also supplied copies of reports for three of the other discharged
parolees. However, one of the three documents was simply an
activity report noting that adult parole was closing all interest in
the case. Corrections was unable to provide any evidence that
a discharge review report was prepared for this parolee prior to
discharge. The other two report copies were incomplete because
a parole agent had not signed them and because no evidence
showed that a unit supervisor or district administrator had
reviewed them. According to a staff specialist in adult parole’s
Quality Control Program Unit, these two discharge review
reports were electronic copies retrieved through the parole agent’s
computer and thus would not show signatures. This official stated
that staff normally places a completed copy of each discharge
review report in the field file and that the original would go to
the Case Records Office. However, she also stated that because
staff members have purged the respective field files, no evidence
exists that these two discharge reviews were completed. As noted
previously, these two discharge review reports were also missing
from the central files maintained by the Case Records Office.
Finally, Corrections did not provide any evidence that appropriate
personnel had initiated or completed the discharge review reports

4	

According to a parole agent III in Corrections’ Policies and Procedures Unit, the ICE may place a
hold on all confirmed illegal immigrants in Corrections’ custody. Upon release to parole, these
state parolees, referred to in this report as deported parolees, will transfer to federal custody
pending deportation to their country of origin. Corrections will monitor the parolees’ status
through the deportation process. Corrections’ current policies require staff to run a record check
one month before a deported parolee’s discharge review date. If there is no indication that the
parolee has reentered the United States and committed a crime, the parolee will discharge by
operation of law, when eligible. In this situation, Corrections currently does not require staff to
prepare a discharge review report.

Corrections’ current policies do
not require staff to complete
reports when discharging
deported parolees.

15

16

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

for the remaining two parolees. The commitment offenses of these
five parolees included committing fraud for monetary gain and
possession of narcotics for sale.

Because Corrections does not
require parole staff to document
their reviews of deported parolees’
criminal history reports or other
factors found in their case files, we
could not determine whether staff
reviewed these criminal history
reports and other case factors
before relinquishing jurisdiction
over deported parolees.

As Table 1 shows, Corrections’ database indicates that 4,981 out
of the 56,329 parolees who were discharged during the 15‑month
period we reviewed were discharged because Corrections lost
jurisdiction to retain them after the responsible parole units did
not submit discharge review reports. However, 2,458 of these cases
were deported parolees for whom Corrections’ current policies
do not necessarily require discharge review reports. Its policies do
require that before relinquishing jurisdiction over the parolees,
parole units must run criminal history reports one month before
the deported parolees’ discharge review dates to ensure that the
deported parolee has not reentered the United States. However,
these criminal history reports have limited value because they
would only reveal that deported parolees had reentered the
United States if they had committed crimes since their deportation.
Otherwise, parole staff are required to complete a formal discharge
review report only if they wish to retain a deported parolee based
on individual case factors. Specifically, Corrections’ policy states
that parole staff may recommend that a deported parolee be
retained due to a history of violence, a sex offender registration
requirement, or other case factors that would significantly affect
community safety should the parolee reenter the United States.
Because Corrections does not require parole staff to document
their reviews of deported parolees’ criminal history reports or other
factors found in their case files, we could not determine whether
staff reviewed these criminal history reports and other case factors
for deported parolees before relinquishing jurisdiction. However,
Corrections’ current policies do require discharge review reports
for the remaining 2,523 parolees for whom it lost jurisdiction.
Corrections’ unaudited data show that the vast majority of the
2,458 deported parolees and the 2,523 other parolees for whom
Corrections lost jurisdiction after staff failed to complete discharge
review reports had been committed to prison for nonviolent
and nonserious offenses. Discharge review reports are required
for parolees who have not been deported, and discharge review
reports for parolees convicted of violent or serious offenses must
be reviewed by district administrators. However, as the data in
Table 2 on page 18 indicate, 74 parolees who had not been deported
but who had been convicted of violent offenses were discharged
without receiving discharge review reports. The parolees’ violent
offenses included second‑degree murder, assault with a firearm, and

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Table 1
Types of Parole Discharges That Occurred Between January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008
Discharge Reason

Region 2

Region 3

Region 4

Other*

6

12

9

8

4

39

Other jurisdiction†

135

151

178

268

88

820

1

Death

203

219

251

222

44

939

2

Board of Parole
Hearings discharges

680

595

641

645

101

2,662

5

1,227

372

591

268

-

2,458

4

248

203

1,334

694

44

2,523

5

44

4,981

9

Lost jurisdiction

Court decisions

Discharged deported
parolees‡
All other discharged
parolees§
Subtotals

Total

Percentage of
All Discharges

Region 1

0%

1,475

575

1,925

962

Parole unit supervisor/district
administrator discharges

3,695

2,539

5,959

6,172

106

18,471

33

Statutory maximumll

5,797

5,982

7,548

5,713

2,746

27,786

49

149

76

170

236

-

631

1

12,140

10,149

16,681

14,226

3,133

56,329

Other discharge reason#
Totals

100%

Source:  Offender Based Information System of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections). A representative from
Corrections’ Policies and Procedures Unit provided the footnoted descriptions of the various discharge reasons.
Note: This table does not include Civil Addict parolees dismissed from the Civil Addict program.
As described in the scope and methodology, we identified errors in the data relating to the discharge reason. Although we are aware that the
categories presented in the table above are misstated to some degree, we do not believe the degree of error is sufficient to lead to an incorrect or
unintentional message.
*	 Other includes regions covered by the Interstate Parole Unit, which is a centralized unit responsible for overseeing all California parolees supervised
out of state. Parole units from all four regions forward cases to this unit upon approval from the receiving state.
†	 This category includes parolees who have been discharged into the custody of another jurisdiction, such as a federal prison or an institution in
another state.
‡	 Corrections’ current policy does not require staff to complete discharge review reports for deported parolees that are discharged. However,
Corrections does require staff to run a record check one month before a parolee’s discharge review date. If there is no indication that the parolee has
reentered the United States and committed a crime, the parolee will discharge by operation of law, when eligible.
§	 Lost jurisdiction (all other discharged parolees) includes parolees who have been discharged without the benefit of properly processed discharge
reviews, parolees discharged after parole agents or unit supervisors failed to prepare discharge review reports, and parolees who have
been discharged as a result of a misplaced discharge review report.
ll	 Statutory maximum includes parolees who have reached their maximum parole period and must be discharged from Corrections’ jurisdiction.
#	 Other discharge reason includes discharges of parolees who have successfully completed 150 days of residential aftercare treatment (California Penal
Code, Section 2933.4).

a lewd or lascivious act with a child under the age of 14. In
addition, 289 parolees who had not been deported but who had
been committed to prison for various serious offenses were
also discharged without receiving discharge review reports. The
parolees’ serious offenses included burglary, assault with a deadly
weapon, and second‑degree robbery, as Table 2 shows.
Corrections’ data, listed in Table 2, indicate that it discharged
4,981 parolees during the 15‑month period we reviewed without
completing discharge review reports. However, the figure in
Corrections’ database may understate the true number of parolees
that Corrections discharged without discharge review reports

17

18

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Table 2
Prison Commitment Offenses for Parolees Discharged Without Receiving Discharge Review Reports Between
January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008

Description of Offenses

discharged
Deported parolees*

all other
discharged parolees

Number of Parolees

Number of Parolees

Violent Offenses†
Second-degree robbery

27

42

Carjacking

1

5

Assault with firearm

6

4

Lewd or lascivious act with a child under the age of 14

33

4

Assault with deadly weapon

12

3

Second-degree murder

10

2

Other

47

14

136

74

Burglary

80

92

Assault with deadly weapon

70

72

Making threats

23

32

Second-degree robbery

8

21

Assault with firearm

3

10

Possession of non-narcotic controlled substance for sale

8

1

84

61

276

289

Subtotals
Serious Offenses†

Other
Subtotals
Nonviolent and Nonserious Offenses†
Possession of non-narcotic controlled substance

193

229

Possession of controlled substance

86

221

Second-degree burglary

90

180

Petty theft with prior convictions

44

152

Possession of non-narcotic controlled substance for sale

166

115

Transportation of controlled substance

107

97

Vehicle theft

141

93

Illegal possession of firearm

28

69

Receiving stolen property

55

67

Grand theft

33

66

Transportation of non-narcotic controlled substance

127

55

Possession of controlled substance for sale

123

51

Corporal injury to a spouse

89

47

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

68

32

682

657

2,032

2,131

Other
Subtotals
Other
Unspecified offenses
Totals

14

29

2,458

2,523

Source:  The Offender Based Information System (unaudited) of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections).
*	 Corrections’ current policies do not require discharge review reports to be completed for these parolees, unless retention is recommended.
†	 Corrections’ Offender Based Information System indicates whether offenses were violent, serious, or other. We did not review the offenses to
determine whether Corrections correctly identified them based on legal criteria.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

because staff may have improperly coded some of these discharges.
For example, if staff did not submit completed discharge review
reports for five of the 509 discharges that we reviewed and
discussed previously, Corrections should have coded the cases as
lost jurisdiction. Further, when we used the number of errors found
in our sample to extrapolate the number of errors possible in the
other 18,471 parolee cases that Corrections’ database indicates were
discharged by parole unit supervisors or district administrators
during the 15‑month period, we found that Corrections may have
understated the number of parolees discharged without discharge
reviews. We estimate that the figure of 2,523 parolees who were
not deported and for whom discharge review reports were not
completed is understated by approximately 180 such parolees.
Although we cannot identify the exact number of parolees that
Corrections discharged without formal reviews, we can safely
state that staff from its Case Records Office made entries into
its database recording that adult parole did not submit required
discharge review reports for 2,523 of the discharges that it
processed for parolees who were not deported. A parole agent II
in adult parole’s quality control program unit explained that the
Case Records Office is a huge operation that receives and reviews
between 1,800 and 2,000 reports a month and that errors may
occur from time to time. The parole agent also acknowledged that
completed discharge review reports might not arrive at the Case
Records Office on time or at all and that received reports could
be misplaced.
A potential cause for past failures to complete and submit discharge
review reports also exists at the parole unit level. According to the
parole administrator of Corrections’ Parole Operations Section,
each month unit supervisors provide parole agents with a list
of parolees who are due for discharge reviews in the upcoming
60 days. However, Corrections’ current policies do not require
unit supervisors to verify that parole agents actually complete and
submit discharge review reports for all parolees on the list. Parole
agents may fail to initiate the discharge review process without
Corrections holding them accountable. Therefore, Corrections’
internal controls have not been sufficient to ensure that its parole
units complete and submit discharge review reports for all parolees
eligible for discharge.
In response to these issues, Corrections reported that it
is implementing an immediate measure that it asserts will
significantly reduce the number of parolees discharged because
it lost jurisdiction over them. Specifically, in a letter dated
August 4, 2008, Corrections’ chief deputy secretary of Adult
Operations, asserted that as an immediate corrective measure,
Corrections has stationed an assistant regional administrator at

Corrections lost jurisdiction to
retain 2,523 parolees, who were
not deported, after adult parole
did not submit required discharge
review reports.

19

20

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Corrections reported that as an
immediate corrective measure, it
has stationed an assistant regional
administrator at each of the
two Case Records offices to prevent
any further lost jurisdiction cases.

each of the two Case Records offices to prevent any further lost
jurisdiction cases. According to the chief deputy secretary, these
two assistant regional administrators must review the case of every
parolee who is about to be discharged to ensure that a discharge
review was completed. If either of the two assistant administrators
identifies a case in which Corrections is about to lose jurisdiction
due to the absence of a discharge review report, the administrator
will have a review completed immediately so that the parolee may
be properly discharged. If time constraints prevent the completion
of a discharge review report, the assistant administrator is to make
an immediate recommendation to the board to retain the parolee
so that jurisdiction is not lost. The chief deputy secretary asserted
that this practice will continue until Corrections is certain that
long‑term system fixes are operational and effective.
For example, according to the chief deputy secretary, Corrections
plans to implement an automated computer system that will
track discharge review dates in order to lower significantly the
number of lost jurisdiction cases. The system will monitor parole
cases electronically and identify for each of the four regional
administrators those cases that are within 20 days of discharge
but for which appropriate personnel have not conducted
discharge reviews. Thus, the system will allow each of the regional
administrators to learn about any cases that are approaching the
point of lost jurisdiction with enough time for staff to complete
the requisite reviews. The chief deputy secretary stated that the
regional administrators have already been notified that they will
be held accountable for ensuring that necessary discharge reviews
have been completed before that 20‑day window closes. In addition,
the system will generate electronically for the deputy director of
adult parole a second report that will identify any cases that are
within 10 days of discharge and for which appropriate staff have
not completed discharge reviews. This report will give the deputy
director an opportunity to ensure that each of the four regional
administrators prevents any lost jurisdiction cases. Finally, the chief
deputy secretary expects that this system of automated electronic
management reports will be fully operational by August 15, 2008.
District Administrators Often Did Not Provide Written Justification When
Discharging Parolees Contrary to Staff Recommendations
Corrections’ policy generally requires parole agents to
recommend discharging or retaining each parolee for whom
he or she is responsible based on factors such as the parolee’s
parole adjustment; residence and employment status; and any
arrests, violations, or special conditions. The parole agent should
document these factors in the discharge review report, make a
recommendation to retain or discharge the parolee, and submit

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

the report to the appropriate unit supervisor. As the Introduction
explains, depending on the nature of the parolee’s commitment
offenses and other factors, the unit supervisor may have the
authority to discharge the parolee, or the supervisor may be
required to forward his or her recommendation to a district
administrator. The district administrator reviews forwarded
recommendations and has the authority in many cases to make
the final decision to discharge a parolee. Nonetheless, we found
that district administrators, without documenting the basis for
their decisions, frequently discharged parolees whom staff had
recommended for retention.
Our review of 503 central files containing discharge review reports
found that district administrators participated in only 156 discharge
reviews. The district administrator recommended retaining one
of these parolees but discharged the remaining 155. As Figure 3
shows, the district administrators agreed with the discharge
recommendations made by both the parole agents and the unit
supervisors in 89 of the 155 discharges. The district administrators
discharged parolees in agreement with either the parole agents
or the unit supervisors in another 35 cases. However, in 31 instances
the district administrator discharged the parolees despite the parole
agents’ and the unit supervisors’ recommendations to retain them.
Figure 3
Frequency With Which District Administrators’ Decisions to Discharge Parolees Matched the
Recommendations of Parole Agents, Unit Supervisors, or Both
District administrators discharged
parolees against either parole
agents’ or unit supervisors’
recommendations to retain—35

Parolees discharged by
unit supervisors—345*

Parolees discharged
by district
administrators—155*

District administrators discharged
parolees against both parole
agents’ and unit supervisors’
recommendations to retain—31

District administrators agreed with both
parole agents’ and unit supervisors’
recommendations to discharge—89

Source:  Bureau of State Audits’ review of 503 parolees discharged between January 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008.
*	 These numbers do not include one discharged parolee for whom a district administrator recommended retention on parole and two other
discharged parolees for whom unit supervisors recommended retention. As described on pages 24 through 25, analysts in the Case Records
Office discharged these three parolees without further review.

21

22

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

In 16 of the 31 cases in which district administrators exercised
authority provided in Corrections’ policy and overruled the
recommendations of both the parole agent and the unit supervisor
to retain the parolee, the district administrators documented the
reasons for discharging the parolees. For example, the parole agent
noted in one discharge review report that the parolee has a history of
selling drugs and should be retained on parole. The unit supervisor
agreed with the parole agent. However, the district administrator
discharged the parolee, noting on the report that the parolee had no
parole violations or new arrests during the past year of parole and
that the parolee was employed. In another case, the parole agent and
unit supervisor recommended that a parolee be retained because the
parolee had a drug violation, had failed to complete a drug treatment
program, and had demonstrated sporadic employment. The district
administrator justified discharging the parolee in this instance
because the individual had not returned to documented drug use in
the past six months and because the board had not interrupted this
individual’s parole supervision.
In 15 cases, district administrators
did not provide any written
explanations for their decisions
when they discharged parolees
against both the parole agents’ and
unit supervisors’ recommendations
to retain these individuals
on parole.

However, in the remaining 15 cases, district administrators did
not provide any written explanations for their decisions when
they discharged parolees against both the parole agents’ and
unit supervisors’ recommendations to retain these individuals
on parole. As Table 3 shows, 12 of these discharged parolees had
been deported and thus did not require discharge review reports
according to Corrections’ current policies, and another parolee was
in federal custody. Nevertheless, in each of these 13 cases, parole
staff considered various case factors and prepared discharge review
reports to recommend retaining these parolees. For example, in one
instance, the parole agent recommended that a parolee deported to
Mexico should be retained on parole because the individual posed a
substantial threat to the community. The parole agent noted in the
discharge review report that the deported parolee’s criminal history
included arrests or convictions for assault with a firearm, hit and
run, grand theft, and possession of a controlled substance. Although
the unit supervisor agreed that this deported parolee should be
retained on parole, the district administrator discharged the parolee
without providing any written justification on the discharge review
report. Once Corrections discharges deported parolees and releases
jurisdiction over them, it loses the ability to monitor them if they
return to the State.
In another case that did not involve a deported parolee, the parole
agent and unit supervisor both noted that a high‑risk sex offender
parolee should be retained for the safety of the community. In
fact, Corrections had been monitoring this parolee using a global
positioning system for six months. Nevertheless, the district
administrator discharged this parolee without providing any
written justification.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Table 3
Criminal Histories of Parolees Discharged by District Administrators Without Written Justification
Parolee

Type of
Parolee

1

Deported

Theft by invalid access card, willful discharge of a firearm in a negligent manner, forgery of handwriting, possession of a
driver’s license to commit forgery, grand theft of access cards, burglary, and forgery of an official seal.

2

Deported

Burglary, grand theft, possession of burglary tools, receiving stolen property, false identification to a peace officer, hit and
run, reckless driving, assault with a firearm, threatening a crime with the intent to terrorize, possession of a controlled
substance, driving under the influence, driving without a license, having false proof of financial responsibility, robbery,
and petty theft.

3

Deported

Possession of a controlled substance for sale and possession of a controlled substance while armed.

4

Deported

Grand theft of an automobile, receiving stolen property, tampering with a vehicle, theft of personal property, second
degree burglary, theft, possession of a hypodermic needle, under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of
a narcotic, disorderly conduct, rape by force or fear, transporting/selling a narcotic, possession/purchase of a controlled
substance for the purpose of sale, and false identification to a peace officer.

Criminal History

5

Deported

Inflicting corporal injury, mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, and threatening a crime with the intent to terrorize.

6

Deported

Petty theft, taking a vehicle without consent, receiving stolen property, possession of a narcotic, false identification
to a peace officer, under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of burglary tools, grand theft with a
firearm, burglary, attempted grand theft of an automobile, carrying a concealed weapon, driving without a license,
evading a peace officer, and disregard for safety.

7

Deported

Robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with a firearm on a person, grand theft from a person, disorderly conduct,
prostitution, transporting/selling a controlled substance, and possession of controlled substance for sale.

8

Deported

Possession of a weapon at school, possession of a controlled substance, grand theft, transporting/selling a narcotic, and
taking a vehicle without consent.

9

Deported

Prostitution, assault with a firearm on a person, force/assault with a deadly weapon, possession/purchase of a narcotic for
sale, and using a minor to violate a controlled substance act.

10

Deported

Possession/purchase of a narcotic for sale, forging an official seal, and driving without a license.

11

Deported

Driving under the influence, driving without a license, and burglary.

12

Deported

Receiving stolen property, taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, possession of a stolen vehicle/vessel, driving
without a license, possession of a controlled substance, obstructing a public officer, and failure to appear in court for a
felony charge.

13

In federal
custody

Possession of a controlled substance, driving under the influence, hit and run causing property damage, and driving
without a license.

14

Not deported

Possession of a firearm, validated gang membership, and a drug‑related parole violation.

15

Not deported

Committing a sexual offense.

Source:  Discharge review reports completed for the parolees by parole agents and unit supervisors of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Although district administrators may have valid reasons for
overruling staff recommendations to retain parolees, the rationale for
these decisions is unclear without written explanations. Corrections’
current discharge policies do not require district administrators to
document the reasons that they discharged parolees contrary to
the recommendations of parole agents or unit supervisors. On the
other hand, when we brought this issue to Corrections’ attention, it
agreed that the adoption of such a requirement in future cases would
represent a better practice. In a letter dated August 4, 2008, the chief
deputy secretary of Adult Operations stated that a forthcoming
policy will require district administrators to document a statement
of reasons in support of their discharge decisions. According to
Corrections’ letter, this requirement will apply—but will not be

23

24

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

limited to—any recommendation by a district administrator that
is contrary to the recommendation of the parole agent or unit
supervisor. As this report later explains, Corrections expects to
implement this new policy and has drafted new regulations that will
also be designed to ensure that parole cases are thoroughly reviewed
before discharge.
Corrections Did Not Always Ensure That the Appropriate Authority
Participated in Discharge Decisions

The board is not always involved
in the discharge process when it
should be.

Under state law, only the board has the authority to retain a parolee.
Corrections’ discharge policy requires that the board must review
each case in which it previously took action to retain a parolee or to
revoke or suspend an individual’s parole. However, the board is not
always involved in the discharge process when it should be. Before
processing a discharge decision, a Case Records Office analyst
verifies that the parolee is eligible for a discharge. In addition, the
analyst verifies that the appropriate entity approved the parolee’s
discharge or retention. If followed, this procedure acts as a final
control to ensure that the parolee is not discharged prematurely and
that the proper authority made the decision to discharge or retain.
However, we found that analysts do not always perform these
procedures effectively, and consequently they do not make sure that
Corrections follows its own discharge policies. Analysts did not
ensure compliance with discharge policies in six of the 83 discharge
reviews that we evaluated. Table 4 shows that in three of these
cases, the final reviewing authority recommended that the parolee
be retained on parole.
These three parolees had histories of multiple offenses. In one
case, the parole agent, the unit supervisor, and the district
administrator all recommended that the parolee be retained. This
parolee’s commitment offense was vehicle theft, which ended in
a high‑speed police chase. The parole agent rated the offender’s
parole adjustment as marginal, and the unit supervisor commented
that the parolee had not participated in drug testing and may still
have a substance abuse problem that might further jeopardize
public safety. Because the analyst failed to forward this case to the
board, the parolee was discharged. In the other two cases, the unit
supervisors recommended to retain the parolees and forwarded the
cases directly to the Case Records Office rather than to appropriate
district administrators as required. In these two cases, analysts
should have returned the reports to the appropriate district
administrator, but they did not do so; instead, the analysts

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Table 4
Parole Cases in Which the Appropriate Authority Did Not Make
Discharge Decisions

Parolee

Parole Agent’s
Recommendation

Unit Supervisor’s
Recommendation

District
Administrator’s
Recommendation

1

Retain

Retain

Retain

2

Retain

Retain

NA

3

Discharge

Retain

NA

4

Discharge

Discharge

Discharge*

5

Discharge

Discharge

Discharge*

6

Retain

Discharge

Discharge*

Source:  The Bureau of State Audits’ review of 83 parole discharges for their compliance with the
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s discharge policies.
NA = Not Applicable
*	 The Board of Parole Hearings had previously taken action to revoke or retain on parole and is
therefore required to make the final decision to discharge or retain these parolees.

processed the cases as discharges. These examples illustrate that
Case Records Office staff play an integral role in the discharge
review process.
In the remaining three cases, the board had final authority to
discharge; however, Case Records Office staff did not forward the
cases to the board. In these instances, the district administrators
recommended discharging the parolees and forwarded the reports
to the Case Records Office. Because the board had previously taken
action to revoke these offenders’ paroles or to retain the parolees,
the reports should have gone to the board for review and final
disposition as required by Corrections’ policy. In fact, in two of the
three cases, the reviewing district administrators had indicated in
the discharge reports that staff should refer the cases to the board for
final disposition. However, the analysts in the Case Records Office did
not forward these discharge review reports to the board; instead, they
processed these discharges in violation of Corrections’ policy.
Corrections maintains data on actions taken by the board against
offenders’ paroles and on the entity that discharged each parolee,
and Corrections could use this data to verify that the board was
involved in discharge decisions when required. However, we
identified 12 instances in which Corrections’ database indicated that
a unit supervisor or district administrator made the final decision to
discharge a parolee when in fact the board made the final decision.
Corrections’ database does not have a field dedicated to identifying
which entity made the final discharge decision. Instead, when a unit
supervisor or district administrator makes the final decision, staff
insert a code in a comment field that typically also contains the

25

26

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Failure to accurately maintain
data related to discharges deprives
Corrections of an effective resource
for identifying those parolees
whose paroles were revoked or
suspended or who were previously
retained by the board but were
subsequently not discharged by the
board, as required.

location information of the parolee’s central file. By searching for
the code in this comment field, we were able to separate records
for those parolees discharged by the board from those discharged
by unit supervisors or district administrators. However, errors we
encountered limit the usefulness of this information. Although
Corrections stated that the comment field is not intended to
provide statistical data, failure to accurately maintain data related
to discharges deprives Corrections of an effective resource
for identifying those parolees whose paroles were revoked or
suspended or who were previously retained by the board but were
subsequently not discharged by the board, as required.
In August 2007 Corrections began requiring its regional
administrators, or designees, to audit 10 percent of all discharge
review reports submitted each month to district administrators
under their supervision. It also began requiring its district
administrators to audit 10 percent of the monthly discharge
decisions reached by each parole unit under their jurisdiction,
excluding those discharge reviews that the parole units initially
submitted to the district administrators for disposition. These
audits have a limited scope, and Corrections does not intend
them to cover all aspects of the discharge process. During
their respective audits, regional administrators and district
administrators are required to document parole agents’ and unit
supervisors’ recommendations as well as district administrators’
decisions, as applicable; to record any reasons for differences of
opinion; and to determine compliance with certain aspects of
Corrections’ discharge policies. However, these audits occur after
staff have already processed the parole discharges and retentions,
and therefore the audits would not be effective in preventing
inappropriate discharges from occurring.
According to a parole agent III in Corrections’ policy and
procedures unit, if these audits reveal instances in which discharge
policies are not being followed, Corrections will take appropriate
corrective action. Corrections provided information that indicated
that between August 2007 and May 2008, it conducted 6,380
discharge audits and noted instances of noncompliance. However,
Corrections was unable to provide us with accurate data on the
number of these instances of noncompliance identified through
such audits. In addition, the nature of the types of noncompliance
are unknown because regional and district administrators did
not record this information during their reviews. The official
in Corrections’ policy and procedures unit indicated that when
instances of noncompliance were suspected, the appropriate
administrator discussed the issue with affected staff. However,
because the administrators are not recording the nature of the
problems identified through each of their audits, Corrections
is unable to identify any common areas of noncompliance that

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

may be occurring throughout the parole districts. Consequently,
Corrections is limited in its ability to identify the need for
additional training for all parole staff.
Corrections Is Taking Actions to Address Discharge Review Reports
That Were Altered Inappropriately
In December 2007 Corrections reported that an internal
investigation determined that one of its district administrators
discharged parolees after altering discharge review reports prepared
by parole agents and unit supervisors who recommended retaining
parolees. Corrections subsequently referred the investigation to
the State’s Office of the Inspector General (Inspector General),
which launched an investigation and determined that the district
administrator may have used poor judgment but it found no
evidence of criminal or administrative misconduct. In addition,
Corrections initiated an ongoing internal audit to determine
whether a sample of parolee discharge decisions comply with
state laws and its internal polices. Corrections is also developing
a policy memorandum to prohibit unit supervisors and district
administrators from altering discharge review reports.
On December 19, 2007, Corrections issued a press release noting
that an internal investigation found that a district administrator
inappropriately altered discharge review reports prepared by
parole agents and unit supervisors recommending retention.
Corrections noted that a preliminary audit revealed a number of
instances in which the district administrator altered with corrective
liquid the unit supervisors’ decision boxes on discharge review
reports. In some of these cases, a parole agent and unit supervisor
recommended to “retain” the parolee, but the district administrator
changed their recommendations to “discharge” on the discharge
review report. According to Corrections, although district
administrators have the authority to make decisions to discharge or
recommendations to retain parolees that may be different from staff
recommendations, altering recommendations of subordinate staff is
inconsistent with Corrections’ protocols.
Corrections noted that upon discovering the altered reports,
Corrections reassigned the district administrator and removed
his authority to make discharge decisions. Further, its office
of internal affairs opened an investigation and the following
day referred the investigation to the Inspector General. In
March 2008 the Inspector General completed its investigation and
reported that it found no evidence of criminal or administrative
misconduct by the district administrator. According to the deputy
regional administrator, the district administrator has regained his
previous responsibilities.

In March 2008 the Inspector
General completed its investigation
and reported that it found
no evidence of criminal or
administrative misconduct by the
district administrator.

27

28

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Corrections also initiated an ongoing internal audit to determine
whether its parole discharge practices comply with its own policies
and with state laws; it expects to issue the results of this internal
audit in August 2008. In addition, the director of adult parole
indicated that he held a meeting in early 2008 with all regional
and district administrators and verbally instructed them not to
alter discharge review reports prepared by their subordinates.
Further, Corrections has drafted a policy memorandum that
formally prohibits district administrators and unit supervisors from
altering the recommendations of subordinate staff on discharge
review reports.

The district administrator said that
he had been using corrective liquid
for five years to cover the box that
his unit supervisors had checked
to indicate a recommendation to
retain the parolee and had never
before been told that this was an
inappropriate practice.

We interviewed the district administrator in question to obtain his
perspective on why he altered the reports. He stated that in some
instances in the past, Case Records Office analysts had inadvertently
forwarded to the board cases to retain parolees despite his decision
to discharge the parolees. According to the district administrator,
Case Records Office staff sometimes confused a unit supervisor’s
recommendation to retain as the final decision and failed to note
the district administrator’s overriding decision to discharge the
parolee. To avoid this potential confusion, he used corrective liquid
to cover the box that his unit supervisors had checked to indicate
that the discharge review should be forwarded to the board to
take action to retain the parolee. He stated that he also checked
the discharge box in the unit supervisor’s section of the discharge
review report as well as the box in his own section of the report.
During our review, we noted two such instances in which he had
done this. The district administrator also stated that he did not
remove any of the unit supervisors’ comments, which often include
the explanations for their recommendations. Asserting that this
practice did not have an adverse impact on the discharge process,
the district administrator further stated that he was not aware
of any policies at the time that prohibited the use of corrective
liquid for such purposes. Moreover, he said that he had been using
corrective liquid in this fashion for five years and that he had never
before been told that this was an inappropriate practice. Finally, the
district administrator asserted that when Corrections recently told
him that this practice was not appropriate, he immediately stopped
doing it.
Pending Changes Could Expand the District Administrator’s Role and
Authority in the Discharge Process
Changes to state law and proposed revisions to Corrections’
policies could increase the district administrator’s role and
authority in the discharge review process, if implemented. Changes
in state law authorize Corrections to implement a program that
would allow district administrators the authority to discharge

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

certain parole violators who, under the laws and policies in effect
during the period we reviewed, were to be discharged by the board.
However, under this law, the program may not be implemented
unless funding is appropriated for its purpose. Additionally,
Corrections reported that it has also drafted new regulations and
a new policy memorandum that, if implemented, will govern its
parole discharge process. The draft policy memorandum will also
purportedly expand the role and authority of district administrators
by increasing their involvement in the discharge process when a
parole agent and unit supervisor have a difference of opinion.
As the Introduction discusses, under state law and Corrections’
policies, only the board may discharge parolees whose parole
periods the board adversely affected. Chapter 645, Statutes of 2007,
which became effective January 1, 2008, authorizes Corrections
to create the Parole Violation Intermediate Sanctions (PVIS)
program, if funding is appropriated for this purpose in the Budget
Act of 2008 and subsequent budget acts. Eligible parole violators,
if admitted to the PVIS program, receive a specific treatment and
rehabilitative plan. These parole violators’ pending revocation
proceedings with the board are suspended contingent upon the
successful completion of the program, at which point they are
able to continue on parole without any adverse board action on
their record for that parole violation. Therefore, the PVIS program
would ultimately allow district administrators or unit supervisors to
discharge certain parolees who would otherwise require the board
to make final discharge decisions.
Under the new law, the purpose of the program is to improve the
rehabilitation of parolees, reduce recidivism, reduce prison
overcrowding, and improve public safety. Should the PVIS program
be funded and implemented, the law requires Corrections to
conduct an evaluation of it and report to the Legislature. The
law also requires Corrections, if the PVIS program is funded and
implemented, to report annually to the Legislature, beginning
January 1, 2009, regarding the status of the PVIS program and
the number of participants. According to Corrections, it has not
implemented the PVIS program because the governor’s proposed
fiscal year 2008–09 budget does not include any funding for
the program.
In addition to statutory changes, Corrections reported that it has
drafted new regulations and a new policy memorandum that, if
implemented, will govern its parole discharge process. Specifically,
in a letter dated August 4, 2008, the chief deputy secretary of Adult
Operations stated that Corrections has drafted regulations to
better ensure that appropriate personnel thoroughly review parole
cases before parolees are discharged. The proposed regulations
would clarify, codify, and standardize Corrections’ best practices,

Corrections asserts that it has not
implemented the Parole Violation
Intermediate Sanctions program
because the governor’s proposed
fiscal year 2008-09 budget does
not include any funding for
the program.

29

30

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

ensure their consistent application, and mandate the completion
of discharge reviews. The chief deputy secretary asserts that these
regulations are currently in the stakeholder review phase, and he
expects that they will be forwarded to Corrections’ Regulations
Policy and Management Branch in September 2008.
Moreover, the chief deputy secretary stated that Corrections has
also drafted an omnibus memorandum that will detail the policy
and procedures governing parole discharges. The memorandum
purportedly will align Corrections’ best practices with state law and
the proposed revisions to the California Code of Regulations. He
asserts that the draft policy memorandum will set forth discharge
criteria; applicable timelines; the process for documenting the
review; the necessary supervisory levels of review; and special
considerations for violent offenders, sex offenders, second strikers,
participants in enhanced outpatient programs, global positioning
system participants, parole violators with new terms, ICE cases, and
civil addicts. As discussed previously, the new draft policy will also
specifically require district administrators to document the reasons
for their discharge decisions. In addition, the chief deputy secretary
asserts that the draft policy will also specifically require Corrections
to prepare discharge review reports for deported parolees. The
draft memorandum will also purportedly expand the district
administrator’s role and authority. Specifically, it would require staff
to forward to the district administrator for review any discharge
review report in which a parole agent and unit supervisor disagree
about whether to retain or discharge a parolee. Under its current
policy, a unit supervisor can often discharge without a district
administrator’s review a parolee who has not been convicted of a
serious or violent offense within the last 10 years and who is not
a registered sex offender or validated gang member.
Recommendations
To prevent the automatic discharge of parolees, Corrections should
ensure that staff promptly prepare discharge review reports for all
eligible parolees.
Corrections should finalize and implement the draft regulations
and policy memorandum that will detail the policy and procedures
governing its parole discharge process. The new policy should
prohibit unit supervisors and district administrators from altering
discharge review reports prepared by others. In addition, the new
policy should require district administrators to document their
justifications for discharging parolees against the recommendations
of both parole agents and unit supervisors. Finally, the new policy
should require that discharge review reports be prepared for
deported parolees.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

To ensure that parolees are discharged in accordance with its
policies and with state laws, Corrections should make certain
that the appropriate authority makes decisions to discharge or
retain parolees.
To document more accurately whether its staff completed discharge
reports, Corrections should ensure that staff members properly
code in its database the reasons for parolees’ discharges. Further, to
better identify the entities that make final discharge decisions for
given cases, Corrections should establish a more precise method
for maintaining information about which entity made the final
discharge decisions, such as a new discharge reason code or a new
data field that will track this information.
Because we found some discharges that did not comply with
Corrections’ policies even after Corrections had implemented
its protocol requiring that regional and district administrators
review 10 percent of the discharge decisions made by subordinates,
Corrections should consider providing to parole staff and analysts
from the Case Records Office additional training on its discharge
policies. If, after providing this training, regional and district
administrators find that staff are still not following discharge
policies, Corrections should consider requiring that the respective
administrators perform these reviews before discharge decisions
are finalized.

31

32

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

We conducted this review under the authority vested in the California State Auditor by Section 8543
et seq. of the California Government Code and according to generally accepted government auditing
standards. We limited our review to those areas specified in the audit scope section of the report.
Respectfully submitted,

ELAINE M. HOWLE
State Auditor
Date:	 August 26, 2008
Staff:	

Michael Tilden, CPA, Project Manager
Kris D. Patel
Christina Animo
Angela Dickison
Jonnathon D. Kline
Meghann K. Leonard, MPPA
Jennifer D. Loos
Shannon Maloney, MPP
Laura H. Peth

For questions regarding the contents of this report, please contact
Margarita Fernández, Chief of Public Affairs, at (916) 445-0255.

33

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

(Agency response provided as text only.)
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Office of the Secretary
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
August 14, 2008
Elaine M. Howle, State Auditor*
Bureau of State Audits
555 Capitol Mall, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Ms. Howle:
This letter in response to the Bureau of State Audits’ (BSA) report entitled California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation: It Does Not Always Follow Its Policies When Discharging Parolees. As you are aware, the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) initiated an internal audit regarding the
same subject prior to your effort and identified several areas needing improvement. We are pleased that you
confirmed our findings and recognize our proactive approach. Not only did we take corrective action where it
was indicated, but we have implemented policy changes to correct areas identified as needing improvement.
The Department recognizes the relationship between our case records and parole offices is an integral
association in the parole discharge process. As a result of both CDCR’s and BSA’s audit reports; the Department
has aggressively employed a number of changes to improve the overall process. As noted in your report,
our Department has fully implemented an immediate measure that will significantly reduce the number of
“lost jurisdiction” cases including stationing assistant regional administrators at both case records locations
to guarantee that every parolee file pending discharge based on lost jurisdiction is reviewed. As a long-term
measure, CDCR already has implemented an automated computer system that will track discharge review dates
and produce management reports to key Division of Adult Parole Operations officials who monitor upcoming
discharges to ensure proper discharge reviews are completed before jurisdiction is lost. Additionally, the
Department is in the process of amending the California Code of Regulations to better ensure the completion
of proper parole discharge reviews and will be training staff to apply these new procedures once the proposed
regulations are enacted. We appreciate that your report has recognized our remedial efforts in this regard.
We welcome your input and look forward to your future efforts to further our mission of public safety through
improved and effective parole practices. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at
(916) 323-6001.
Sincerely,
(Signed by: Scott Kernan)
SCOTT KERNAN
Chief Deputy Secretary
Adult Operations
*	 California State Auditor’s comments begin on page 35.

1
2

3

3

4

34

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Blank page inserted for reproduction purposes only.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

Comments
CALIFORNIA STATE AUDITOR’S COMMENTS ON THE
RESPONSE FROM THE Department of Corrections
and rehabilitation
To provide clarity and perspective, we are commenting on the
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (Corrections)
response to our audit. The numbers below correspond to the
numbers we have placed in its response.
On August 1, 2008, we held an exit conference with Corrections
and shared the results of our audit. At that time, we asked
Corrections if it was prepared to share the results of its internal
audit that began before our audit but were told that its draft report
was not sufficiently complete to provide anything meaningful to
us. As a result, we do not know the results of Corrections’ internal
audit and thus did not confirm its findings in our report.

1

As noted on pages 29 and 30 of our report, on August 4, 2008,
Corrections reported to us that it had drafted a new policy
memorandum that would govern its parole discharge process
and address the concerns noted in our report. At that time,
Corrections had not yet implemented the draft policy memorandum.
Consequently, our report only describes what Corrections told
us it planned to do in response to our findings, it does not affirm
that Corrections actually implemented any of these changes because
Corrections has not provided any evidence to demonstrate that it has
implemented a new policy.

2

Our report does not validate Corrections’ assertion that it has
aggressively employed a number of changes to improve its discharge
process. Specifically, on pages 19 and 20 of our report, we describe
Corrections’ August 4, 2008, statement to us that it is implementing
an immediate measure that it asserts would significantly reduce
the number of lost jurisdiction cases by stationing assistant
regional administrators at each of its Case Records offices to
ensure that discharge reviews are completed for all parolees prior
to discharge. We do not have any evidence that Corrections has
actually implemented this measure. Similarly, on page 20 of our
report, we describe Corrections’ assertion that it plans to implement
an automated computer system that would track discharge review
dates and produce certain management reports. On August 4, 2008,
Corrections reported to us that it expected that this new system
would be fully operational by August 15, 2008. Again, we do not
have any evidence that this system is now operational and we have
not seen or evaluated these management reports. However, we look
forward to receiving this new system’s management reports as part
of Corrections’ 60-day response to our audit.

3

35

36

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

4

By stating that our report recognized Corrections’ remedial efforts
regarding its regulations, we assume Corrections is referring to an
assertion its chief deputy secretary of Adult Operations made on
page 30 that the draft regulations were in the stakeholder review
phase and he expects that they will be forwarded to Corrections’
Regulations Policy and Management Branch in September 2008.
What the chief deputy failed to mention is that, if approved in
September by Corrections, the draft regulations must still meet
the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure
Act, which requires a public comment period and approval by the
Office of Administrative Law. This process can take anywhere from
30 days up to six months to complete. However, we are not aware
of anything that precludes Corrections from implementing its new
draft procedures and providing related training to its staff before its
proposed regulations are enacted. Also, if the proposed regulations
would govern only Corrections’ internal procedures for discharging
parolees, state law does not require Corrections to enact regulations
prior to implementing such procedures.

California State Auditor Report 2008-104

August 2008

cc:	

Members of the Legislature
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
Milton Marks Commission on California State
Government Organization and Economy
Department of Finance
Attorney General
State Controller
State Treasurer
Legislative Analyst
Senate Office of Research
California Research Bureau
Capitol Press

37

 

 

Federal Prison Handbook - Side
Advertise Here 2nd Ad
Prison Phone Justice Campaign