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Id Office of Performance Evals Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho Parole Process Feb 2010

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process

Increasing Efficiencies in
Idaho's Parole Process
Evaluation Report
February 2010

Office of Performance Evaluations
Idaho Legislature

Report 10-02

Office of Performance Evaluations

Created in 1994, the legislative Office of Performance Evaluations
operates under the authority of Idaho Code § 67-457 through 67-464.
Its mission is to promote confidence and accountability in state
government through professional and independent assessment of
state agencies and activities, consistent with legislative intent.
The eight-member, bipartisan Joint Legislative Oversight Committee
approves evaluation topics and receives completed reports. Evaluations
are conducted by Office of Performance Evaluations staff. The findings,
conclusions, and recommendations in the reports do not necessarily
reflect the views of the committee or its individual members.

2009–2010 Joint Legislative Oversight Committee

Senate

House of Representatives

Elliot Werk, Co-chair

Clifford R. Bayer, Co-chair

John McGee

Maxine T. Bell

James C. Hammond

Donna H. Boe

Edgar J. Malepeai

Shirley G. Ringo

Rakesh Mohan, Director
Office of Performance Evaluations

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process

Increasing Efficiencies in
Idaho's Parole Process

February 2010

Report 10-02

Office of Performance Evaluations
954 West Jefferson Street
10th Street Entrance, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0055

Office of Performance Evaluations

ii

Office of Performance Evaluations
Idaho Legislature
954 W. Jefferson Street
10th Street Entrance, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0055
Phone (208) 332-1470
Fax (208) 332-1471
Website: www.idaho.gov/ope

Rakesh Mohan
Director

Joint Legislative
Oversight Committee
Senators
Elliot Werk, Co-chair
John McGee
James C. Hammond
Edgar 1. Malepeai

Representatives
Clifford R. Bayer, Co-chair
Maxine T. Bell
DonnaH. Boe
Shirley GRingo

February 22,2010

Members
Joint Legislative Oversight Committee
Idaho Legislature
Last year, you directed us to evaluate Idaho's parole process to identify
potential efficiencies. This report discusses factors associated with an offender
being released after his or her tentative parole date, the costs associated with
release delays, and ways that Idaho can increase efficiencies and reduce costs.'
All of our analyses were conducted within the statutory framework of Idaho's
Unified Sentencing Act and in recognition of full discretion given to parole
commissioners for making parole decisions.
The Commission of Pardons and Parole plays a critical role in Idaho's criminal
justice system by making difficult decisions about when public safety and
justice are served by releasing offenders back into the community and
determining the conditions of their release. Public interest is best served to the
extent that the commission has sufficient procedures, resources, and
coordination with other criminal justice agencies, particularly the Department
of Correction (IDOC), to make fully informed and timely decisions. Undue
delays within the parole decision-making process not only have implications for
the efficient administration ofjustice, but also have a direct impact on state
taxpayers by housing offenders in expensive prison beds longer than is needed.
In 2004, nearly 40 percent of offenders were released on time; in 2008, it was
just 17 percent. We found the strongest predictor of an offender being released
after a tentative parole date was the timing of his or her rehabilitative
programming. Those offenders who began programming after a parole hearing
were significantly more likely to have a release delay. The successful
movement of offenders through the parole process is essential to slowing
growth in the prison system, preparing offenders for reentry into the
community, and most importantly, maintaining public safety.
This report makes recommendations for streamlining the joint processes of
IDOC and the commission by focusing on improvements in training,
communication, policies, and data management. This report also presents the
commission with an opportunity to look into its operations and work toward
addressing issues raised by its employees.

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee
Page 2 of2

Additional work in the area of alternatives to incarceration can also ease the burden on
the parole system by reducing the incarcerated population and addressing the need for
offender programming outside of the parole process. In his response to our companion
report Operational Efficiencies in Idaho's Prison System, Director Brent Reinke of the
Department of Correction said that he "will request the Joint Legislative Oversight
Committee consider allowing OPE to develop a relationship with the Washington State
Institute for Public Policy to initiate an outcome study on the three identified alternatives
to incarceration."
We thank the Governor, IDOC, and the commission for providing their formal responses
to our report. These responses are included at the end of the report. Our special thanks to
commission and IDOC staff who took time from their other duties to enable us to carry
out the essential function of legislative oversight on behalf of the Joint Legislative
Oversight Committee and the Legislature.
Sincerely,

Rakesh Mohan

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process

Table of Contents

Page
Executive Summary ........................................................................................................

xi

Chapter 1:

Introduction ...............................................................................................

1

Legislative Interest ......................................................................................

1

Glossary of Terms .......................................................................................

1

Methodology ................................................................................................

3

Report Organization ....................................................................................

4

Understanding the Parole Process ..........................................................

7

Recent History of Parole in Idaho ................................................................

7

Current Roles and Responsibilities .............................................................

7

Idaho State Judiciary .............................................................................

8

Idaho Department of Correction ............................................................

8

Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole ............................................

11

The Offender .........................................................................................

13

Preparing for the Parole Hearing .............................................................

15

Role of the Department of Correction ..........................................................

15

Statute Does Not Clearly Define Rehabilitation .....................................

15

Movement of Offenders to Prison Is Not Based on Parole Eligibility
Date ......................................................................................................

16

IDOC Is Improving the Quality of Assessments ....................................

16

IDOC Has Implemented a New Programming Initiative ........................

17

IDOC Programming Is Timely ................................................................

18

IDOC Does Not Formally Track Trends in Programming Exceptions ....

18

Role of the Commission of Pardons and Parole..........................................

21

Hearing Officer Manual Provides Little Guidance for Conducting
Investigations.........................................................................................

21

Commissioners Find Hearing Officer Reports Useful ............................

21

Chapter 2:

Chapter 3:

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Office of Performance Evaluations
Page

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

vi

Communication Between Commission Staff and IDOC Staff Is
Inconsistent During Investigations ........................................................

22

Missing Offender Information Creates Challenges for Hearing Officers

23

Recommendations ......................................................................................

23

Conducting Hearings and Preparing for Release ..................................

27

Role of the Commission of Pardons and Parole .........................................

27

Commissioners Have Discretion Throughout the Decision-Making
Process .................................................................................................

27

Offenders Who Begin Programming After Parole Hearings Are More
Likely to Experience Release Delays ....................................................

28

National Standards Recommend the Use of Specific Criteria in
Making Parole Decisions.......................................................................

29

Role of the Department of Correction .........................................................

30

IDOC and the Commission Do Not Formally Track Trends in
Programming Added by Commissioners...............................................

31

Current Policies Do Not Ensure Ongoing Dialogue Between IDOC
Staff and Commission Staff...................................................................

31

IDOC Does Not Have a Policy to Guide Parole Plan Investigations .....

32

Parole Plan Process Is Taking Longer to Complete .............................

33

Most Offenders Are Released After Their Tentative Parole Date .........

33

Recommendations ......................................................................................

35

Community Supervision ...........................................................................

37

Offender Release ........................................................................................

37

Parole Officer Workload Is Increasing Faster than Staffing Allocations
in Some Districts ...................................................................................

37

Violation Process ........................................................................................

39

IDOC Conducts Initial Investigation but Does Not Have Authority to
Make Final Violation Decision ...............................................................

42

Violation Process Involves Multiple Reviews by Commission Staff ......

43

Not All Violations Result in Parole Revocation......................................

44

Recommendations ......................................................................................

44

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Page
Commission Operations ...........................................................................

47

Organizational Structure ..............................................................................

47

Statutory Framework Does Not Provide Commission with Complete
Independence ........................................................................................

47

Reliance on IDOC Policies Contradicts Commission’s Independent
Role .......................................................................................................

49

Hearing Officer Guidance ............................................................................

49

New Hearing Officers Are Pleased with Training, but More Training Is
Needed ..................................................................................................

49

Hearing Officers Lack Ongoing Feedback and Performance
Appraisals ..............................................................................................

50

Staff Workload .............................................................................................

51

Hearing Officer Workload Is Not Measured ...........................................

51

Administrative Staff Report Workload Increases Due to Budget
Constraints ............................................................................................

52

Staff Do Not Always Maximize Technology ...........................................

52

Commission Management ...........................................................................

53

Attendance at Parole Hearings Requires the Executive Director to Be
Out of the Office for Significant Periods of Time ...................................

53

Commission Does Not Have an Effective Communication and
Grievance Process to Ensure Staff Are Treated Fairly ..........................

54

Recommendations.......................................................................................

55

Appendix A IDOC Primary Intake Assessments..........................................................

59

Appendix B Case Manager Survey ...............................................................................

61

Appendix C Parole Plan Investigation Workload Study .............................................

65

Appendix D Demographic Data of Paroled Offenders ................................................

67

Appendix E

69

Chapter 6

Interview Questions for Commission Staff .............................................

Responses to the Evaluation
Office of the Governor .................................................................................

77

Department of Correction ............................................................................

79

Commission of Pardons and Parole ............................................................

83

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process

List of Exhibits
Page
Exhibit E.1

Release Delays over Time for 2004, 2006, and 2008 ..................................

xii

Exhibit 2.1

General Parole Process ...............................................................................

9

Exhibit 2.2

Idaho Parole Districts and Prison Locations .................................................

12

Exhibit 3.1

General Pathways for Success Enrollment Process ....................................

19

Exhibit 3.2

Core Treatment and Education Programs Offered at Each Prison Facility ..

20

Exhibit 4.1

Parole Hearings and Decisions, 2004–2008 ................................................

27

Exhibit 4.2

Estimated Cost Differences Between Incarceration and Community
Supervision Based on Offenders with a Release Delay, January 2007–
September 2009 ...........................................................................................

34

Exhibit 5.1

Average Number of Probation and Parole Cases Per Officer by District,
Fiscal Years 2007–2009 ...............................................................................

38

Exhibit 5.2

Average Number of Probation and Parole Cases Per Officer by District,
First Quarter of Fiscal Year 2010 .................................................................

39

Exhibit 5.3

General Violation and Revocation Process ..................................................

40

Exhibit 6.1

Budget Process for the Department of Correction and the Commission of
Pardons and Parole ......................................................................................

48

Exhibit 6.2

Appointment Process for the Department of Correction and the
Commission of Pardons and Parole .............................................................

48

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process

Executive Summary

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s
Parole Process
The Unified Sentencing Act is the cornerstone of Idaho’s current parole process
and requires a fixed incarceration time that must be served by the offender for
every felony sentence. Additionally, Idaho Code § 20-223 gives full discretion to
parole commissioners when making decisions on whether to grant parole. Our
evaluation of the parole process was conducted within this statutory framework.
The Commission of Pardons and Parole plays a critical role in Idaho's criminal
justice system by making difficult decisions about when public safety and justice
are served by releasing offenders back into the community and determining the
conditions of their release. The public interest is best served to the extent that the
commission has adequate procedures, sufficient resources, and coordination with
other criminal justice agencies to make fully informed and timely decisions.
Delays within the parole process not only have implications for the efficient
administration of justice, but also have a direct impact on state taxpayers by
housing offenders in expensive prison beds longer than necessary. When looking
at the total number of offenders in our timeframe who were granted parole
between January 1, 2007 and September 14, 2009, and who were incarcerated
beyond their tentative parole date, we estimate the state spent nearly $7 million
in continued offender management.1
For the parole process to operate effectively, several critical elements need to be
in place and operating well, particularly coordination between the Department of
Correction (IDOC) and the commission. The remainder of this executive
summary highlights the key areas of strengths and weaknesses we found in the
parole process and provides a summary of our recommendations for increasing
efficiencies.

______________________________
1

Of the $7 million, approximately $790,000 was due to delays in transferring offenders who
were either paroling to another state or serving another sentence in an Idaho county, in another
state, or for the federal government.

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Office of Performance Evaluations

Parole Release Delays Continue to Increase;
Timing of Programming Linked to Delays
The commission and IDOC, which are responsible for the oversight and
management of Idaho’s parole process, must work closely together to ensure
offenders are moved through the correctional system in a timely manner while
still ensuring public safety. The working relationship between these entities has
improved over the last several years. However, as shown in exhibit E.1, the
percent of offenders being released on time (within two days of their tentative
parole date) has decreased. In 2004, almost 40 percent of offenders were
released on time, compared with only 17 percent in 2008.2
To better understand factors associated with release delays, we analyzed
information for 2,017 offenders who were released from prison between January
2007 and September 2009.3 We found that those offenders who began at least

EXHIBIT E.1 RELEASE DELAYS OVER TIME FOR 2004, 2006, AND 2008
45

Percent of Offenders Released

40
35
30
2004

25

2006
20

2008

15
10
5
0

0–2
(on time)

3–30

31–90

91–180

181–365

Number of Days Delayed
Source: Analysis of data from the Department of Correction.
Note: Release delays beyond 365 days were more likely to have variables that affected the
reliability of data; therefore, we did not include this data in the exhibit.

______________________________
2
3

xii

At the time of our report, 2008 was the last full year that release information was available.
We chose this timeframe based on the availability of certain data necessary for our evaluation,
some of which was not maintained prior to 2007.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process

some programming after their parole hearing were significantly more likely to
have a release delay than those offenders who began their programming prior to
the hearing. Of the offenders in our timeframe, 78 percent of those who began
programming after their parole hearing were also released after their tentative
parole date.
The measure of delay is only one part of an agency’s overall efficiencies. In our
review of the parole process, we found IDOC has made significant strides in
improving its operations to maximize efficiencies and provide staff with the
tools to perform their duties successfully. We also found the commission
conducts its hearings in a timely manner and has made some progress in
improving its efficiencies. However, the commission lacks policies and
procedures, sufficient guidance for hearing officers and commissioners, and an
effective process in place to ensure commission staff are treated fairly.
To further streamline the joint processes between IDOC and the commission, we
have made recommendations that focus on improvements in four areas:
communication, training, policy, and data management. We have also made
recommendations to address the operational issues of the commission.

IDOC and Commission Should Strengthen
Communication to Reduce Delays
One of the critical roles IDOC plays in offender management is conducting
assessments and placing offenders into appropriate programming. In June 2009,
IDOC began implementation of its Pathways for Success program, an approach
designed to provide specific guidelines for offender programming based on
standardized assessments. This approach will help to ensure that each offender
has made sufficient progress in program completion by the time he or she attends
a parole hearing.
Although IDOC has the responsibility to properly assess an offender’s risk and
needs and ensure he or she has access to appropriate programming, the
commission is ultimately responsible for granting or denying parole. When
granting parole, the commission also has the right to require additional
programming, even if the addition does not align with the offender’s
programming already assigned by IDOC.
We recognize the commission’s commitment to public safety and acknowledge
commissioners’ discretion to require that an offender complete additional
programming. However, IDOC and the commission should create more
opportunities for their staff to communicate throughout an offender’s
incarceration. Ongoing, reciprocal communication will help ensure that IDOC’s
approach to programming more closely aligns with the release expectations of

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Office of Performance Evaluations

the commissioners, reducing the number of offenders who are directed to
complete additional programming before being released on parole.

Commission Should Provide Staff and Commissioners
with More Tools to Guide Parole Decisions
The commission has not regularly updated its hearing officer manuals, nor does
it have a systematic approach to review or guide the work of its hearing officers.
Although the commission has made some improvements to standardize the
reports officers complete, staff are not always formally trained in conducting
interviews, understanding assessments, or formulating recommendations to
commissioners.
Conversely, IDOC has made significant progress in updating its approach to
offender management. To guide their work, several divisions are in the process
of updating or drafting new procedure manuals. These manuals generally
standardize processes, clearly define expectations, and provide a mechanism to
ensure quality and oversight.
We recommend the commission update its manuals to provide officers with
comprehensive, ongoing guidance in completing their work. The commission
should work closely with IDOC in updating the commission’s manuals to align
the communication expectations of hearing officers with both parole officers and
case managers. The commission and IDOC should also work together to give
hearing officers clear guidance on how to understand the role of assessments and
programming in offender management.
We also found that commissioners, who are appointed by the Governor and
serve in a part-time capacity, have not undergone a standardized training
protocol to guide their work. To align with national standards, we recommend
the commission develop a training program for all commissioners. The program
could include a training manual and standardized checklist, as well as
information about how to formally incorporate assessments and other specific
criteria into making parole decisions.

Commission Should Maximize Use of Technology
Data management, including accuracy and accessibility of data, continues to be a
challenge for both IDOC and the commission. To remedy its data issues, IDOC
has nearly implemented the first phase of its Correctional Integrated System
(CIS). Part of this new computer system will provide a more centralized and
standardized approach to how offender information is entered, maintained, and
retrieved.

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process

Because the work of IDOC and the commission is interrelated, IDOC’s
implementation of CIS includes a dedicated component, called a module, to be
accessed and used by all commission staff. However, we found that not all
commission staff have an adequate understanding of the technology they use and
that the commission may not have sufficiently involved its staff in the
development and design of the commission module.
We recommend the commission take steps to improve its understanding of how
CIS will work and closely examine whether more elements of commission data
should be maintained through its module. Additionally, we recommend
commission staff undergo more training in basic word processing and data
management to assist them in maximizing efficiencies. By taking advantage of
existing technologies, the commission will be able to reduce the time spent
entering data, to streamline processes, and to help ensure information is entered
accurately, timely, and in a consistent format.

Commission Should Adjust Daily Operations to
Improve Working Environment
The commission’s executive director has served the commission for 25 years and
possesses a wealth of information about the pardons and parole process.
Attendance at parole hearings requires the executive director to be out of the
office for one to two weeks each month to read commissioner decisions to each
offender and advise commissioners on statutes and rules. We recommend
commissioners consider options to allow the executive director more flexibility
in meeting her other workload demands.
In the course of our interviews with commission staff and management, 40
percent of staff raised concerns about the overall working environment of the
commission, ranging from being frustrated with management to being fearful of
retaliation by the executive director. Given the impact of the working
environment on the overall efficiencies and effectiveness of any agency, we
recommend the Office of the Governor work closely with the executive director
to create a formal grievance and communication process to improve conditions
and ensure all staff are treated fairly.

Legislature Should Consider Modifying Statute to
Reflect Current Efforts
The current statutory configuration does not reflect the actual operations of the
commission and its working relationship with IDOC. We recommend the
Legislature review current statute and decide whether the commission should
become a completely independent state agency. By designating the commission

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Office of Performance Evaluations

as an independent agency, the commission will be accountable for specific
performance measures.
The Legislature should also consider expanding the statutory definition of
rehabilitation to more accurately reflect the work of IDOC. In recent years,
IDOC has made a focused effort to improve and standardize its approach to
offender programming, recognizing the role effective programming plays in
successful reentry into the community. A clear, comprehensive definition of
rehabilitation in Idaho Code that applies to all offenders will assist IDOC in
meeting its goal of standardized programming through Pathways for Success.

Acknowledgements
We appreciate the assistance we received from the following entities: the
Department of Correction, the Commission of Pardons and Parole, the Idaho
State Judiciary, legislative Budget and Policy Analysis, the Office of the
Attorney General, and the Division of Financial Management within the Office
of the Governor.
We appreciate the information provided by members of the Criminal Justice
Commission, as well as staff at the Idaho Association of Counties and the Idaho
Sheriffs’ Association.
Amy Lorenzo, Jared Tatro, and Hannah Crumrine of the Office of Performance
Evaluations conducted this study. Margaret Campbell and Brekke Wilkinson of
the office were the copy editor and desktop publisher respectively.
Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, former professor and director of the Center for Education
Research and Evaluation at the University of Mississippi, conducted the
statistical analyses and quality control review.
Dr. Tedd McDonald, professor and director of the Master of Health Science
Program at Boise State University, interviewed hearing officers, violation
hearing officers, administrative staff, and managers, and then analyzed
responses.

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Chapter 1

Introduction

Legislative Interest
Questions have been raised about the overall efficiency of the probation and parole
process. To answer those questions, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee
directed us to review the efficiency of the current process.
To maintain a manageable scope, our study focused on four major areas of the
parole process:

1. What are the roles and responsibilities of the Judiciary, the Department
of Correction (IDOC), and the Commission of Pardons and Parole with
regards to parole? How do these entities work together to facilitate the
parole process?
2. How many offenders are being incarcerated beyond their tentative parole
date? What are the costs to incarcerate an offender beyond his or her
tentative parole date? What factors affect how and when offenders are
granted parole? How efficient is Idaho’s approach to the parole process?
3. What work has already been done to improve efficiencies in the process?
What can be done to further enhance the system’s efficiency?
4. How does Idaho’s approach to the parole process compare with other states?
What are the evidence-based practices of the parole process? What
evidence-based practices is Idaho currently applying?

Glossary of Terms
Case Manager: IDOC staff who provides offenders with assessments and
programming placement, and addresses any subsequent needs, problems, or
adjustments. Case managers may have the title of psycho-social rehabilitation
specialist, counselor, social worker, psych-tech, or clinician.

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Office of Performance Evaluations

Determinate Sentence: The minimum length of incarceration an offender must
serve as decided by a judge. Offenders may not be considered for parole during
this time. Statute requires judges to impose mandatory minimum sentences for
certain drug and sex related felony offenses.
Hearing Officer: Commission staff who conducts offender investigations prior
to parole hearings and writes offender reports with release recommendations for
parole commissioners. A number of hearing officers also make determinations
and compile reports for offenders who violate the conditions of their parole.
Indeterminate Sentence: A subsequent period of time decided by a judge
during which an offender is eligible for parole or discharge as determined by the
commission.
Parole: The conditional release of an offender before the completion of his or
her indeterminate sentence. Paroled offenders remain under the supervision of
IDOC while living in the community and must abide by conditions set forth by
parole commissioners.
Parole Eligibility Date: The date an offender may be considered for parole. This
date marks the completion of an offender’s determinate sentence and the
beginning of his or her indeterminate sentence. The eligibility date is not a
guarantee of parole release. Our analysis did not use eligibility date as a measure
of delay.
Probation: An alternative sentence to incarceration, determined by a judge, that
allows the offender to serve his or her sentence within the community and under
the supervision of IDOC staff.
Probation and Parole Officer: IDOC staff who supervises offenders living in
the community and serves as a link to a variety of social services. For the
purposes of our study, we use the term parole officer.
Programming: Education and treatment provided to offenders by IDOC.
Programming may consist of both core and ancillary (secondary) education and
treatment options. However, for the purposes of our study, we generally use
programming to refer to core treatment options.
Tentative Parole Date: The release date given to an offender by the
commissioners if parole is granted at a hearing. This date is generally contingent
on the completion of assigned programming or other pre-release requirements.
Our analysis used the tentative parole date given by commissioners as a measure
of delay.

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Methodology
We gathered multiple types of data and viewpoints from those involved in the
parole process:
•

Observed hearing officer interviews and parole hearings, including
revocation hearings.

•

Toured several Idaho prisons.

•

Observed the Reception and Diagnostic Unit (RDU) process for both
male and female offenders. Also observed case mangers and clinicians
conducting different offender assessments.

•

Observed various elements of offender programming.

•

Accompanied a parole officer during home visits of several offenders
under community supervision.

•

Observed several discussions between IDOC and the commission about
the commission’s operating requirements for IDOC’s updated computer
system. Participated in an interactive demonstration of the commission
module and provided feedback on potential improvements.

•

Interviewed staff from the courts and judges from the Felony Sentencing
Committee.

•

Working through the executive director of the commission, surveyed
commissioners about their perceptions of the parole process.

•

Using a web-based survey tool, asked parole officers throughout the state
to log, over a four-week period, the amount of time they spent
conducting parole plan investigations. Analyzed the level and types of
communication officers had with case managers throughout the
investigation process as well as the frequency of changes that occurred to
parole plans from that communication.

•

Using a web-based tool, surveyed case managers at all facilities about
their communication with hearing officers and parole officers. Analyzed
the frequency and types of communication case managers reported.

We involved commission staff and IDOC staff early on with our approach to
data analysis to ensure that both entities understood our analysis and that we did
not miss any critical components. Once we confirmed that our proposed analyses

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Office of Performance Evaluations

would not duplicate reports generated by IDOC or the commission, we used the
following information from IDOC and the commission to conduct our analyses:
•

Data from both IDOC and the commission for offenders who were
granted parole by the commission at their first hearing, who were given a
tentative parole date, and who had subsequently been released on parole
between January 1, 2007 and September 14, 2009.
−

Evaluated various elements of the parole process using averages
(medians), standard deviations, and frequencies. Data was analyzed
and compared by crime group, age, gender, ethnic group, parole year,
reading level, disciplinary actions, and programming start dates.

−

Number and types of revocation hearings for all offenders who had a
revocation hearing with the commission, regardless of when the
offender was initially released on parole.

•

Parole releases from January 2004 to December 2008, looking at overall
data for each year.

•

Data from IDOC for caseload distributions of probation and parole
officers as well as the time taken to complete the parole plan process
between 2007 and 2009.

•

Interviewed all commission hearing officers, administrative staff, and
commission management. Analyzed those interviews to better understand
issues of workload, training, and communication between commission
staff and IDOC staff.

Through the course of our initial interviews, commission staff raised significant
concerns about the working environment of the commission. Although
evaluating the working environment of the commission was outside the initial
objectives of this project, we decided to analyze those concerns because
government auditing standards require us to report significant issues that affect
the evaluation objectives.

Report Organization
To provide better context for our recommendations, we have described various
elements of the parole process in detail. This information, along with our
recommendations, is divided among the following chapters:
Chapter 2 provides an overview of the parole process, describing the roles and
responsibilities of the courts, IDOC, and the commission.

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Chapter 3 details the process leading up to the parole hearing, including
admission to prison, enrollment in rehabilitative programming, and the hearing
officer report. The report helps prepare commissioners for the parole hearing.
Chapter 4 describes the parole hearing, including the role of the commissioners,
and outlines the steps that occur once an offender has been granted parole but
has not yet been released to the community.
Chapter 5 identifies the roles of parole officers in supervising offenders while
managing other duties, including revocations, and outlines the complex process
of addressing parole violations that requires the joint efforts of IDOC and the
commission.
Chapter 6 makes recommendations specific to the commission to help improve
its efficiencies, maximize technology, and improve the working relationship
between commission staff and management.

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Chapter 2

Understanding the Parole Process
Recent History of Parole in Idaho
The current configuration of a five-member Commission of Pardons and Parole
was established in 1969. Statute was amended in 1994 to give the Board of
Correction the responsibility of appointing an executive director to handle the
day-to-day operations of the Commission of Pardons and Parole. In 1999, a new
statute was enacted incorporating both the Board of Correction and the
Commission of Pardons and Parole into the Department of Correction. That
same year, the Governor, rather than the Board of Correction, was designated to
appoint the five commissioners and the commission’s executive director. Statute
has not been significantly modified since that time.
In 1986, the Unified Sentencing Act was passed, changing both Idaho’s
sentencing and parole processes. Idaho Code § 19-2513 requires that judges
impose a minimum length of incarceration for all felony offenses committed on
or after February 1, 1987. Additionally, no offender may be considered eligible
for parole while serving his or her minimum length of incarceration. In Idaho,
this minimum length is referred to as the determinate or fixed portion of an
offender’s sentence. Under the Unified Sentencing Act, judges may also impose
a subsequent indeterminate length of continued custody. An offender may be
considered eligible for parole or discharged at any time during his or her
indeterminate sentence as determined by the commissioners. Idaho Code
§ 20-223 provides commissioners with the complete discretion to grant or deny
parole; we purposefully excluded offenders that had been denied parole from our
study and conducted our analyses within the parameters of the Unified
Sentencing Act.

Current Roles and Responsibilities
Idaho’s parole process involves the collaborative efforts of three separate
entities: the Idaho State Judiciary, the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC),
and the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole. Together these entities work
to move offenders through the correctional system, understanding that the
majority of offenders will be released back into the community. With the
ultimate goal of public safety, each entity plays a pivotal role in the parole
process through sentencing determinations, education and treatment, and reentry

7

Office of Performance Evaluations

into the community. Offenders are also held responsible for their own behavior
and programming efforts while incarcerated.

Idaho State Judiciary
There are two levels of criminal offenses: misdemeanors and felonies.
Misdemeanors are usually tried by magistrate judges and are punishable by fine
or county jail time. Felonies are tried by district judges and may result in
incarceration in state prison, probation, or retained jurisdiction.1 A person who
has been found guilty of a felony may also be admitted to a problem-solving
court program.
Idaho law gives judges the discretion to make appropriate sentencing
determinations.2 Within the parameters of the Unified Sentencing Act, judges
specify the determinate and indeterminate portions of an offender’s sentence.
District judges rely on pre-sentence investigation reports, provided by IDOC
staff, to help in making their decisions.
After an offender has been found guilty, pre-sentence investigators conduct
investigations and prepare reports, which offer details about the defendant’s
current crime, criminal history, and personal background. Reports may also
include substance abuse, mental health, psychological, or psycho-sexual
evaluations. The investigation process generally takes four to six weeks to
complete. As shown in exhibit 2.1, the report is given to judges prior to the
sentence hearing to aid them in making appropriate sentencing determinations
based on all available factors.
Idaho’s Felony Sentencing Committee, whose membership includes seven
district judges from throughout the state, is currently revising the pre-sentence
investigation report. The revised report will provide judges with a standardized
format that will identify the specific needs of offenders and the potential
programming of each offender by possible sentencing options.

Idaho Department of Correction
In fiscal year 2009, IDOC accounted for $163 million (6 percent) of Idaho’s
general funds and over 1,500 full-time positions. IDOC is charged with
providing for the care, maintenance, and employment of all offenders committed
to its custody.3 Although IDOC does not determine when offenders enter or exit
the correctional system, it does play an important role by equipping offenders
______________________________
1

2
3

8

IDAHO CODE § 19-2601(4) states that retained jurisdiction, also called a rider, is typically a
180-day sentence served under IDOC supervision; however, the offender remains within the
jurisdiction of the courts. At the end of the sentence, the courts, rather than the commission,
determine release from prison.
IDAHO CODE § 19-2513 and § 19-2601.
IDAHO CODE § 20-209.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process
EXHIBIT 2.1 GENERAL PAROLE PROCESS
Offender is found guilty of a felony

IDOC staff conduct a
pre-sentence investigation (PSI)

Judge sentences the offender to prison

Offender arrives at the Reception and
Diagnostic Unit (RDU) and is
assessed by IDOC staff

Offender begins incarceration at
a designated facility

Offender begins programming

Commission hearing officer
interviews the offender

Commission conducts a hearinga
Parole is granted

IDOC parole officer conducts
parole plan investigation

Parole is deniedb
Offender is denied
parole for an amount of
time determined
by commission

Offender is denied
parole and required
to serve full term
of sentence

Commission approves the
terms of release

Offender is released on
parole under the supervision
of IDOC Division of
Community Corrections
Source: Interviews with Department of Correction staff and Commission of Pardons and Parole staff.
a
b

Some cases are decided in executive session without the offender present.
An offender has the option to appeal the commission’s decision by submitting a progress report no sooner than
6 months after the commission’s decision and once every 12 months thereafter.

9

Office of Performance Evaluations

with the tools necessary for successful reentry into the community, reducing the
likelihood that an offender may return to prison. IDOC must also be responsive
to the expectations and requests of both the courts and the commission.
IDOC is comprised of four divisions:
•

Division of Management Services oversees information services,
construction, financial services, inmate placement, central records,
research and quality assurance, and human resources. It also includes the
director’s office. Management Services staff calculate offender parole
eligibility dates using court sentencing information.

•

Division of Education and Treatment is responsible for providing all
offenders in IDOC’s jurisdiction with both health care services and
rehabilitation opportunities. Education and Treatment staff also work
with the commission to coordinate offender release.

•

Division of Prisons oversees eight prisons, one community work center,
and the prison administrations. Prisons staff implement IDOC
assessments and supervise incarcerated offenders. Additionally, the
movement of offenders incarcerated outside of an IDOC facility,
including the privately-operated prison and county jails, is coordinated
by Prisons staff in conjunction with Management Services.

•

Division of Community Corrections is responsible for the operation of
four community work centers, the supervision of probationers and
parolees throughout the state, and interstate compacts (the supervision of
offenders as they are transferred between states). Community Corrections
staff also prepare the pre-sentence investigation reports and conduct
parole plan investigations.

Upon receiving a prison sentence, offenders are placed under the jurisdiction of
IDOC. All offenders are initially transported to a Reception and Diagnostic Unit
(RDU). Using a comprehensive assessment protocol, RDU staff assign each
offender a level of custody, a facility location, and a case plan that details the
offender’s education and treatment goals while incarcerated. Offenders are then
transferred to their assigned facility to begin serving their sentence.
IDOC uses education and treatment goals to help prepare offenders for release
into the community. According to Education and Treatment staff, most
education and treatment goals are evidence-based and ensure that the offender

10

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

has fully completed or at least 50 percent completed the assigned programming
prior to his or her parole hearing before commissioners.4 IDOC staff use the
offender’s parole eligibility date to determine program start dates in accordance
with estimated parole hearing dates.5
Parole hearings are generally scheduled six months prior to the offender’s parole
eligibility date.6 If commissioners grant the offender parole, IDOC continues to
assist the offender with his or her reentry efforts. IDOC staff help offenders
develop parole plans to ensure that offenders are adequately prepared for reentry
into the community. IDOC staff then investigate and approve offender parole
plans and coordinate offenders physical release dates with the commission.
Exhibit 2.2 illustrates Idaho’s seven parole districts, which also align with the
judicial districts.

Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole
The Commission of Pardons and Parole is the gatekeeper for parole releases. It
has complete discretion to grant or deny parole for all eligible offenders. In fiscal
year 2009, the commission received $2.3 million in general funds and was
allocated 31 full-time positions. The commission is statutorily part of IDOC;
however, it operates more like an independent agency to uphold the
commission’s commitment to public safety through a fair and individualized
review of each offender’s case.7
Parole decisions are made by five part-time commissioners appointed by the
Governor. In addition to granting parole, commissioners have the authority to
grant pardons and commutations; they can also revoke parole and review
applications for appeal. Commissioners rely on hearing officers to provide
detailed information about each case before an offender’s scheduled hearing
date. Hearing officers conduct investigations and synthesize their findings in
reports given to commissioners for review one week before each hearing.
Commissioners conduct about 185 hearings each month over a one to two-week
period. In approximately two-thirds of those hearings, commissioners interview
offenders prior to making a decision. In the remaining cases, commissioners rely

______________________________
4
5
6

7

Evidence-based practices have defined, measurable outcomes. IDOC uses this term in its
approach to offender management.
IDOC uses offender sentencing information to calculate each offender’s parole eligibility date.
This date is based on the determinate portion of the offender’s sentence.
An offender who begins his or her sentence already eligible for parole or eligible within six
months of his or her commitment is scheduled a parole hearing date six months after the
commission is notified of the commitment.
IDAHO CODE § 20-201.

11

Office of Performance Evaluations
EXHIBIT 2.2 IDAHO PAROLE DISTRICTS AND PRISON LOCATIONS

1

ICIO
NICI

SAWC
ICC
IMSI
ISCI
SBWCC
PWCC

12

Official Name
Idaho Correctional Center

Acronym
ICC

Idaho Correctional Institution – Orofino

ICIO

Idaho Maximum Security Institution

IMSI

Idaho State Correctional Institution

ISCI

North Idaho Correctional Institution

NICI

Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center

PWCC

South Boise Women’s Correctional Center

SBWCC

South Idaho Correctional Institution

SICI

St. Anthony Work Camp

SAWC

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

solely on the reports provided by hearing officers and do not require the presence
of the offender to make a decision.
When making parole release decisions, commissioners apply their individual
criteria in addition to the information provided in hearing officer reports. As
shown in exhibit 2.1, commissioners may grant offenders parole.8 Because the
commission strongly believes that programming provides offenders with the
tools for change and helps ensure public safety, commissioners may require
offenders to complete further programming before release. Commissioners may
deny parole or deny parole consideration for a specified length of time.9

The Offender
In addition to the work of the courts, IDOC, and the commission, offenders are
accountable for ensuring their release is timely. Both IDOC and the commission
support opportunities for offender change, but offenders must also be motivated
and invested in the process. Offenders have several important responsibilities to
complete while incarcerated and prior to the parole hearing. Those
responsibilities fall into three major areas, which are discussed in more detail
throughout the report:
•

Successfully complete all outstanding programming. Offenders who
began programming after their parole hearing were more likely to be
released after their tentative parole date.

•

Submit feasible parole plans for investigation. The offender is primarily
responsible for securing adequate housing, employment, and continued
community treatment before submitting a parole plan for investigation.

•

Remain free of disciplinary write-ups. Offenders who received a
disciplinary write-up after their hearing were more likely to be released
after their tentative parole date.

______________________________
8

9

If granted parole, an offender is given a tentative parole date, which is an estimated date and
not a guaranteed date. Prior to release, the offender must complete any requirements set forth
by the commission.
All offenders have the right to appeal the commissioners’ decisions by submitting selfinitiated progress reports.

13

Office of Performance Evaluations

14

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Chapter 3

Preparing for the Parole Hearing

Role of the Department of Correction
After sentencing, the Department of Correction (IDOC) is responsible for
transporting offenders from county jails to prison to begin incarceration. The
movement and placement of offenders between facilities is based on a number of
factors, two of those being access to and availability of programming.
IDOC is also responsible for preparing eligible offenders for parole. IDOC has
recently revised its approach to the selection and delivery of programming.
Given the timing of this reorganization, we did not evaluate the overall
effectiveness of education and treatment services in the timing of parole release
or recidivism. However, the role that programming plays in parole release is a
significant factor in delays.

Statute Does Not Clearly Define Rehabilitation
Idaho Code § 20-101 and § 20-209 require IDOC to maintain care and custody
of state prisoners. Idaho Code § 20-101 requires IDOC to maintain rehabilitation
centers for offenders but provides no further explanation of those terms.
Although offenders have no constitutional right to be rehabilitated while in
custody, IDOC interprets these statutes as a mandate from the Legislature to
provide offenders rehabilitative services and opportunities. However,
rehabilitation is not explicitly defined in statute except to require it as a provision
of management for those offenders who are being housed or supervised in a
facility other than an Idaho prison, as outlined in Idaho Code § 20-241A.
This code specifically allows IDOC to enter in agreement with other
governmental entities and private parties to house and maintain the care and
custody of state prisoners in non-IDOC facilities. Subsection (1) authorizes
IDOC to contract to provide “programs for the reformation, rehabilitation and
treatment of prisoners.” To support IDOC’s strategic goal of providing
opportunities for offender change and to meet current legislative intent, Idaho
Code § 20-101 and § 20-209 should be amended to include the definition of
rehabilitation in Idaho Code § 20-241A(1) and to clarify that this definition
applies to offenders in direct custody of IDOC as well as in contract facilities.

15

Office of Performance Evaluations

Staff from the Division of Education and Treatment suggested that the amended
statutes could also identify such terms as mental health, substance abuse,
education, and vocational training to further enhance IDOC’s commitment to
offender rehabilitation. For example, statutes in Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and
Washington provide language that specifically addresses these types of
rehabilitative services.

Movement of Offenders to Prison Is Not Based on Parole
Eligibility Date
The movement of offenders can be broken down into two major categories:
between county jails and IDOC facilities, and within facilities. Offender
movement is a complex process that involves ongoing communication and
coordination. Within the timeframe we examined, offenders spent an average of
36 days in county jail prior to movement to an IDOC facility; the range of days
in county jail was between 0 and 357 days.1 Nearly 15 percent of these offenders
entered prison already eligible for parole or within seven months of eligibility.
IDOC currently prioritizes movement to a prison based on the capacity and
needs of the county jail, the type of sentence, and whether the offender has any
medical conditions that require immediate attention.2 Beyond that, movement is
based on the route and availability of seats on the transport bus. To better
prioritize this coordination, IDOC is developing a policy that outlines the
offender placement process. Although the new policy more clearly outlines how
movement decisions are made, it does not identify length of sentence or parole
eligibility date as specific criteria to consider when making transport decisions.
Some offenders, particularly those with short sentences, may remain in county
jail for lengthy periods of time and arrive at prison already eligible for parole.

IDOC Is Improving the Quality of Assessments
Once transported from county jail, all offenders are admitted to the Reception
and Diagnostic Unit (RDU) for evaluation and admission prior to joining the
general prison population. Admission and evaluation at RDU includes:
•

Orientation to rules and regulations

•

Gathering of medical history and initial medical and dental examination

•

Psychological, social, educational, and criminal history assessments

•

Classification and determination of custody level

______________________________
1
2

16

Our analysis only applied to offenders who began incarceration and were released between
January 2007 and September 2009.
Because of the short sentence length, an offender who has been sentenced to retained
jurisdiction (generally referred to as a rider) takes immediate priority for transport to prison.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

To make facility placement and programming determinations for new offenders,
IDOC uses three primary assessment tools and is currently revising its policies to
incorporate additional assessments. Appendix A describes the primary intake
assessments IDOC uses. Secondary assessments allow IDOC to further evaluate
specific areas such as mental health, substance abuse, and sex offender
characteristics.
According to Education and Treatment staff, IDOC created a computer-based
protocol in 2007 to increase the internal consistency for one specific assessment,
the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R). Staff also stated the division is
updating its current quality assurance policy to better ensure consistency among
staff administration and interpretation of IDOC assessments. Despite these
efforts, the commission’s executive director expressed concerns about the
quality control of assessments used by IDOC.
In addition, we received survey responses from four of Idaho’s five parole
commissioners about the parole process. Two commissioners expressed concerns
about the consistency and reliability of assessments administered by IDOC staff.
Because of their concerns, the executive director and the commissioners
recommended the addition of a commission staff member at RDU to assist in the
intake process. This person would work in collaboration with RDU staff to
develop offender case plans with commission expectations in mind and reduce
the need for commissioners to require additional programming at the parole
hearing. However, to support the commissioners’ focus on offender behavioral
progress while incarcerated, we advocate the use of ongoing communication
between IDOC staff and commission staff throughout the offender’s
incarceration rather than solely at intake.

IDOC Has Implemented a New Programming Initiative
In June 2009, Education and Treatment began implementation of Pathways for
Success. This standardized approach to programming is intended to streamline
the selection and delivery of education and treatment
services, and to align with current correctional research
IDOC has reorganized 
that advocates the use of specific offender management
strategies known to reduce recidivism and increase
its approach to 
public safety. Education and Treatment is also revising
education and 
its policies and manuals to reflect the use of evidencetreatment in order to 
based practices within IDOC.

provide offenders 
with standardized 
assessment‐driven 
and evidence‐based 
programs. 

Pathways for Success matches offenders with specific
pathways developed to address risk and need as
indicated by IDOC assessments. The model is made up
of 16 primary pathways and five individual pathways
(available to offenders with additional or specialized
needs). Inclusion and exclusion criteria exist for each
pathway. According to IDOC staff, all pathways were created using evidence-

17

Office of Performance Evaluations

based programs and intervention tools known to produce positive offender
change. Pathways for Success was developed internally by Division of
Education and Treatment staff with input from Prisons and Community
Corrections staff.

IDOC Programming Is Timely
According to Education and Treatment staff, the implementation of Pathways for
Success should positively impact the timeliness of program delivery. Using this
new model, IDOC staff are scheduling offender enrollment and completion of
programming prior to the offender reaching his or her parole eligibility date.
Exhibit 3.1 provides an overview of the enrollment process. According to IDOC
staff, scheduling program enrollment and completion prior to the parole hearing
increases the likelihood that an offender will be granted a tentative parole date
and released on or near his or her parole eligibility date.3
Our analysis supports IDOC’s approach to programming, including the timing of
program enrollment, as specified in the new model. We found that offenders
who began programming prior to being granted parole were significantly more
likely to be released on or near their tentative parole date.
Throughout our study, concerns were raised by both IDOC staff and commission
staff about the availability and capacity of programming at each facility as a
factor related to release delays. Education and Treatment has developed a
process to internally track offenders by programming placement and facility.
According to IDOC staff, the process allows them to monitor program capacity
and availability by facility and provides a built-in quality assurance mechanism.
Offender movement and enrollment date decisions are made using the internal
tracking process. As shown in exhibit 3.2, IDOC prison facilities have started
offering most programs.

IDOC Does Not Formally Track Trends in Programming
Exceptions
In the past, RDU staff used both IDOC assessments and professional discretion
to assign programming when an offender first entered prison; the offender’s case
manager then had the ability to assign programming throughout an offender’s
incarceration. Pathways for Success now provides case managers with specific
guidelines for program selection based on assessments, while still allowing for
discretion through an exception request process.
Education and Treatment developed the exception request process to
accommodate offenders who do not meet the exact criteria for program
______________________________
3

18

Ideally, the tentative parole date should match the parole eligibility date.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process
EXHIBIT 3.1 GENERAL PATHWAYS FOR SUCCESS ENROLLMENT PROCESS

If necessary,
IDOC addresses
basic education
needs

If necessary,
offender
completes
commissionerassigned
programming

Offender is
assigned a
pathway
at RDU

Offender enters
pathway-specific
programming prior
to parole hearing
datea

Parole hearing
date (6 months
prior to parole
eligibility date)

Release into
community on
parole

If necessary,
IDOC addresses
mental health or
medical needs

If necessary,
offender
completes any
remaining
pathway
programming

Source: Department of Correction, “Pathways for Success” (draft document, 2009).
a

Programming typically begins 2 to 12 months prior to the parole hearing, based on the length of the program.

enrollment and allow case managers to cater to individual offender needs.
Education and Treatment staff track the exception process and enter immediate
programming decisions into the offender’s central file, stored in IDOC’s
computer system, for the case manager to review.
This current approach allows Education and Treatment staff to generate reports
using offender central file information. However, Education and Treatment is
not analyzing the frequency, reasons, or long-term programming trends
associated with exception requests. It is also not tracking the point in the
incarceration process at which the exception request was made. Education and
Treatment staff recognize the importance of this information and plan to focus
more on long-term information once Pathways for Success has been in place for
one year.

19

Office of Performance Evaluations

EXHIBIT 3.2 CORE TREATMENT AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS OFFERED AT EACH PRISON FACILITY
ICC ICIO IMSI ISCI NICI PWCC SBWCC SICI SAWC
Emotional and Personal Programs
Anger Management

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

CALM

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

Cognitive Programs
Breaking Barriers

9

Cognitive Self Change Idaho Model
Orientation

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

Cognitive Self Change Idaho Model

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

MRT Driving the Right Way

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9
9

9

Sex Offender Treatment Program

a

Thinking for a Change

9

9
9

9

9

9

Substance Abuse Programs
Helping Women Recover
Meth Matrix

9

9

9

New Directions (full curriculum)
Relapse Prevention

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

Family Reunification Programs
Brain Building Basics
Brief Intervention for Relationships

9

9

9

9

9

How to Be a Responsible Mother
Inside Out Dads

9

9

9

9

9

New Freedom
Partners in Parenting

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

Pre-release Program

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

Therapeutic Community Programs

9

9

9

9

Adult Basic Education

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

High School Education

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

9

Transition

Education Programs

Special Education

9

9

9

Source: Information from Department of Correction staff.
Note: This exhibit does not reflect program capacity (number of seats, enrollment, or waiting list).
a

20

The ICC and PWCC sex offender treatment programs are under development.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Role of the Commission of Pardons and Parole
The commission is responsible for scheduling hearings for offenders who are
eligible for parole. To increase the number of offenders with a timely release, the
commission generally schedules parole hearings six months prior to an
offender’s parole eligibility date. The commission employs hearing officers to
conduct an investigation of each offender approximately three months before his
or her parole hearing, which help better prepare the commissioners for parole
hearings. Commission hearing officers have some autonomy in the process by
which they investigate offenders and often work independently.

Hearing Officer Manual Provides Little Guidance for
Conducting Investigations
As part of the investigation process, hearing officers interview all offenders,
asking a series of questions about personal and criminal history, programming,
and experiences while incarcerated. To assist hearing officers with this process,
the commission provides them with a desk manual. The manual details specific
steps to prepare for the interview, but provides no guidance on how to conduct
the actual interview. National standards recommend the use of tools such as
basic listening and questioning skills to engage the offender. Within the last two
years new hearing officers have received training in interview skills. However,
all hearing officers could benefit from similar training.
Overall, our review of the manual concluded that it is outdated and does little to
address some of the most basic elements of hearing officer job duties. In addition
to the omission of interviewing strategies, the manual does not provide detailed
information about researching or collecting offender background data,
interpreting IDOC assessments, or the specific criteria to use in formulating
recommendations to commissioners, which are important elements of the
investigation process. Given the autonomy officers are allowed in conducting
their investigations, a comprehensive, accurate manual is critical to the
successful completion of their duties.

Commissioners Find Hearing Officer Reports Useful
Following the interview, the hearing officer compiles information into a report
for the commissioners. The report contains a written summary of the officer’s
findings and a recommendation from the officer to either grant or deny parole
based on the investigation findings and the officer’s overall opinion of the
offender. We interviewed each hearing officer to gain their perspective of the
parole process. The types of offender information officers considered varied; 71
percent of hearing officers interviewed reported they consider offender
programming when making parole recommendations, and 64 percent reported
they consider the offender’s criminal history.

21

Office of Performance Evaluations

Because this report is the final product that commissioners read in preparation
for the hearing, the criteria used to make recommendations should be
standardized. Three commissioners indicated that the hearing officer report is
very helpful. However, their responses also indicated that reports could be
further streamlined and standardized. Appendix E provides more information
about the hearing officer interviews.

Communication Between Commission Staff and IDOC Staff Is
Inconsistent During Investigations
When conducting investigations, hearing officers compile information on the
offender from several sources including the pre-sentence investigation, data from
IDOC’s computer system, and information reported in an offender questionnaire.
This information provides commissioners with a complete description of the
offender. For additional information about the offender’s institutional behavior,
the commission also requires hearing officers to communicate with IDOC
personnel such as case managers, medical staff, and education personnel.
When questioned about communication, 58 percent of the hearing officers said
they contacted case managers 76 to 100 percent of the time.4 However, 64
percent of officers also noted that communication between IDOC and the
commission could be improved.
To gain a balanced perspective on perceived communication, we also surveyed
IDOC case managers and asked about their perceptions of communication with
hearing officers. Of the case managers that responded to our survey, 72 percent
indicated that hearing officers initiate contact 25 percent of the time or less. Both
groups said that when communication does occur, they frequently discuss an
offender’s behavior while incarcerated and his or her completion of
programming. Detailed information about the case manager survey and results
are in appendix B.
Our interviews indicated that hearing officers only discussed IDOC assessments
4 percent of the time when communicating with case managers. Although
concerns were raised about the consistency and reliability of IDOC assessments,
these assessments should still be considered and discussed with IDOC staff
during the investigation process. By excluding communication specific to
assessments, hearing officers may be limiting their ability to gauge whether
updated assessments are necessary to further enhance the decision-making
process of commissioners.
______________________________
4

22

For both hearing officer interviews and the case manager survey, we defined communication
as any dialogue between the case managers and hearing officers, either in-person, via
telephone, via e-mail, or through the Correctional Integrated System (CIS).

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Missing Offender Information Creates Challenges for Hearing
Officers
Both IDOC and the commission rely on IDOC’s computer system to access
offender information. Because the system stores many types of information in a
central location, data needed for the hearing officer investigation may not always
be easy to locate or analyze. In addition, the current system relies on staff to look
for updated offender information rather than automatically notifying staff that
changes have been made to the offender’s central file. Several hearing officers
noted that missing information increases their workload and delays the
investigation. Additionally, 14 percent of hearing officers stated that when they
do contact case managers, it is to collect information not found in IDOC’s
computer system.
Through our data analysis, we observed several instances of offender
information in IDOC’s data files that were inaccurate, incorrectly entered, or
incomplete. For example, the offender’s central file contains many subcategories
for specific criteria, but much of the offender’s information is stored in the other
category. Staff at IDOC are aware of the current challenges with data storage
and stated that updates to the computer system will help streamline offender
information. In addition, IDOC indicates it plans to train staff about updates to
the system to ensure information is entered correctly and consistently.

Recommendations
Intent: A clear, comprehensive definition of rehabilitation will assist IDOC in
meeting its goal of standardized programming through Pathways for Success.
Recommendation 3.1: The Legislature should consider modifying
Idaho Code § 20-101 and § 20-209 to include the definition of
rehabilitation as currently provided in Idaho Code § 20-241A(1).
This definition should be clarified to also apply to offenders in
direct custody of the Department of Correction. The definition of
rehabilitation could be expanded to include providing
educational and therapeutic programs for substance abusers,
mentally ill offenders, sex offenders, and those in need of basic
and vocational education.

23

Office of Performance Evaluations

Intent: Ensuring offender movement is facilitated in a timely manner and
considers the length of an offender’s sentence will reduce the number of new
offenders who enter prison already eligible for parole.
Recommendation 3.2: The Department of Correction should
develop specific criteria for moving offenders from county jails
into the prison system by formalizing its use of parole eligibility
dates in determining how offenders are prioritized for movement.
Intent: Tracking trends in offender programming exceptions will allow IDOC to
make necessary changes to Pathways for Success to meet the rehabilitative
needs of all offenders.
Recommendation 3.3: The Department of Correction should
monthly track the frequency, reasons, and long-term trends
associated with exceptions made to offenders’ assigned pathway.
The Department of Correction should review these exceptions to
identify potential areas that could enhance or modify Pathways
for Success.
Intent: An updated, comprehensive desk manual will provide hearing officers
with the most current tools and resources available to effectively perform their
job duties.
Recommendation 3.4: The Commission of Pardons and Parole
should update its hearing officer desk manual to include
information about conducting hearing officer interviews,
gathering inmate information using the Department of
Correction’s computer system, and using and interpreting
assessment tools in making recommendations to commissioners.5

______________________________
5

24

In a memo dated February 8, 2010, the Commission of Pardons and Parole outlined some of
the steps it plans to take to update the hearing officer manual. The commission plans to
finalize the manual by spring 2010.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Intent: Standardized hearing officer reports will ensure that commissioners
receive comprehensive and consistently formatted information on all offenders
prior to the parole hearing.
Recommendation 3.5: The Commission of Pardons and Parole
should further streamline and standardize its hearing officer
reports to provide commissioners with the most consistent
information about each offender. The commission may wish to
consider developing a template as part of their module within the
Department of Correction’s computer system.
Intent: Updated, accurate offender information that is easy to access will provide
both IDOC staff and commission staff with the most relevant and current
information.
Recommendation 3.6: As part of the Department of Correction’s
strategic goal to update its computer system and provide easy
access to offender data, it should standardize how staff enter
information about each offender’s pathway, goals, and any
programming issues into its computer system.
Recommendation 3.7: As the Department of Correction updates
its computer system, it should, at least semi-annually, review how
offender information is being entered to determine whether some
of this information could be categorized and stored using a more
standardized approach.

25

Office of Performance Evaluations

26

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Chapter 4

Conducting Hearings and
Preparing for Release
Role of the Commission of Pardons and Parole
Hearing officers at the commission write reports that make recommendations
about each offender, and then provide those reports to commissioners. These
reports highlight the facts of the crime, incarceration behavior, and programming
information. Commissioners use the reports to gain an understanding of the
offender and to guide their decisions on whether to grant parole.

Commissioners Have Discretion Throughout the DecisionMaking Process
Parole hearings are generally conducted one to two weeks each month;
attendance at parole hearings is rotated among commissioners—three of the five
commissioners are present at each hearing.1 The commission does not have a
designated chairperson; instead, the executive director pre-assigns a chairperson
for each hearing. Commissioners generally ask offenders about their proposed
parole plans, what skills and abilities they have acquired through their
programming, and why they should be released on parole. As shown in exhibit
4.1, the commission held 2,372 hearings in 2008, an increase of 25 percent over
those in 2004. Parole was granted for 65 percent of offenders with parole
hearings in 2008.
EXHIBIT 4.1 PAROLE HEARINGS AND DECISIONS, 2004–2008
2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Total number of hearings

1,904

2,175

2,372

2,408

2,372

Parole granted

1,096

1,318

1,520

1,585

1,509

728

787

746

758

822

80

70

106

65

41

60

63

67

67

65

Parole denied
Continued hearings
Parole grant rate (%)

a

Source: Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole, End-of-Year Statistical Information,
2004–2008, http://www2.state.id.us/parole/statistics.htm.
a

Parole grant rate does not include continued hearings.

______________________________
1

IDAHO CODE § 20-210.

27

Office of Performance Evaluations

Commissioners have two options for conducting parole hearings. They may
decide to interview an offender in person during an actual hearing or they may
decide to substitute the hearing for an executive session review.2
Executive session reviews are designed to reduce the number of
Granting 
hearings commissioners conduct each month by eliminating the
parole  
need to interview every eligible offender. Regardless of whether the
must be a 
offender was present, we found the commission was conducting
parole hearings in a timely manner in nearly 100 percent of cases.
unanimous 

decision. 

After reviewing the hearing officer report and testimony (if
applicable), commissioners will privately deliberate on a parole
release decision. If commissioners unanimously decide to grant a tentative parole
date, they will discuss the need for any additional programming prior to release
or while under community supervision. Commissioners also have the authority
to impose general and specialized conditions of parole, such as abstaining from
alcohol or not associating with other felons, which offenders must adhere to
while under community supervision.

Offenders Who Begin Programming After Parole Hearings Are
More Likely to Experience Release Delays
When looking at offenders who were granted parole in the timeframe we
examined, our analysis found that the programming start date in relation to
parole hearing date was one of the strongest predictors associated with being
released after a tentative parole date. The average release delay was significantly
longer (122 days) for offenders who started core programming after the hearing
than those who started core programming before the hearing (22 days).3
Offender enrollment in programming after a hearing can be attributed to several
factors:
•

Programs through IDOC vary in length and some offenders may be
enrolled in a program after a hearing in accordance with his or her
pathway

•

Offenders may voluntarily choose to enroll in programming after a
hearing

•

Commissioners have the discretion to assign additional programming at
the time of the hearing

______________________________
2

3

28

Executive session reviews are not open to the public and are limited to nonviolent offenders
charged with crimes such as possession, grand theft, and burglary. Executive session is never
used in cases of DUIs, violent offenders, or sex offenders.
For the purposes of this analysis, core programming was limited to treatment and did not
include education.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

For the purposes of our study, we focused on the role of commissioners in
assigning programming, factors associated with added programming, and how
those programming decisions are made.

National Standards Recommend the Use of Specific Criteria in
Making Parole Decisions
Providing commissioners with additional tools to help guide their decision
making would align with national standards and may help reduce the number of
offenders who begin programming after their parole hearing. As discussed in the
next sections, we recommend providing commissioners with additional training
and more information to better understand the role of assessments in placing
offenders in appropriate programming as well as when making parole decisions.
Use of Evidence-Based Assessments
Commissioners are aware that IDOC makes programming decisions for
offenders based on individual assessment scores and specific evidence-based
criteria for each program. Commissioners agree with IDOC that programming is
central to offender rehabilitation and expect offenders to successfully complete
programming as a condition of release. However, commissioners are not bound
by assessment scores or the criteria IDOC uses to determine offender
programming, particularly when they have concerns about whether the
assessments accurately reflect the needs of the offender. As such, commissioners
may require that an offender complete a program that does not align with his or
her existing case plan.
National standards recommend the use of standardized assessment tools when
making parole release decisions. Because commissioners have the authority to
modify or add programming requirements prior to an offender’s release, the
formal inclusion of standardized assessment tools may enhance their decisionmaking process. A better understanding and incorporation of IDOC assessments
to determine programming needs would help ensure that commissioners
recommend appropriate programming to offenders.
Some states have developed customized parole decision-making guidelines to fit
their agency’s needs and provide a common framework on which to base
decisions. For example, each commissioner could use the same checklist that is
based on the following criteria outlined in commission rules:4
•
•
•

Seriousness and aggravation or mitigating circumstances of the crime
Prior criminal history of the offender
Failure or success of past community supervision

______________________________
4

IDAHO ADMIN. CODE, IDAPA 50.01.01.250.01.c.i–vii.

29

Office of Performance Evaluations

•
•
•
•

Overall institutional behavior, including involvement in programs
Evidence of a willingness to change
Physical or psychological condition
Strength and stability of the proposed parole plan

Although commissioners are not bound by these criteria, they could serve as the
basis for an internal checklist. Hearing officers could then use the checklist to
guide their parole recommendations, further ensuring that all commission staff
are using the same criteria when making decisions.
Standardized Training Process
To prepare for their role in making parole determinations, commissioners
generally participate in an informal training—new commissioners spend time
with existing commissioners and, whenever possible, attend hearings as an
observer. According to the executive director, commissioners previously
received training on an annual basis, including attendance at national
conferences, but this training was eliminated several years ago due to a lack of
funding. This elimination has resulted in inconsistencies in the amount and type
of training each commissioner receives.
Several commissioners indicated that the formal training was helpful to
understand their job and more training would be beneficial. One commissioner
suggested the following additional training:
•

Tour the prisons, including the Reception and Diagnostic Units

•

Understand programming options by attending classes

•

Visit the probation and parole offices to understand how offenders are
supervised in the community

The National Institute of Corrections supports a formalized training process,
including a training manual, to ensure commissioners make decisions
consistently within a common framework and use a similar set of criteria.
Without a formalized process for all commissioners, including future
commissioners, commissioners may not be similarly trained in the parole
process and may not be using the same prioritized criteria when making release
decisions.

Role of the Department of Correction
Upon the conclusion of a parole hearing, IDOC continues to assist offenders
with the reentry process in three major areas:
•

30

Education and Treatment staff work with the commission to address
programming requirements specified at the hearing

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

•

Case managers ensure that offenders enroll in all remaining education
and treatment programs and help each offender develop a parole plan

•

Parole officers are responsible for investigating and approving each
parole plan before an offender can be released into the community

IDOC and the Commission Do Not Formally Track Trends in
Programming Added by Commissioners
If commissioners add programming that does not align with the offender’s
pathway, IDOC will generally add it to the offender’s case plan. When
significant discrepancies exist between commissioner and IDOC programming
requirements, IDOC has developed a miscellaneous review process to reconcile
those differences.5 As part of this process, Education and Treatment staff meet
with the commission’s executive director at least quarterly to discuss and resolve
programming discrepancies. Individual outcomes are documented in the
offender’s central file, which is stored in IDOC’s computer system.
According to Education and Treatment staff, the miscellaneous review process
has been in place for about three years and will be formalized with the
implementation of Education and Treatment’s updated offender program
management policy. However, this current approach does not allow IDOC to
identify and monitor long-term trends that may impact the usefulness of
Pathways for Success. Neither IDOC nor the commission currently tracks the
frequency, circumstances, or outcomes associated with programming
requirements added at the parole hearing. As a result, IDOC and the commission
may be limiting their ability to expand Pathways for Success to meet both their
programming expectations.

Current Policies Do Not Ensure Ongoing Dialogue Between
IDOC Staff and Commission Staff
Once an offender has been granted a tentative parole date, case managers help
the offender complete a comprehensive parole plan. Parole plans must provide
accurate information about housing, employment, and continued community
treatment. After an offender has finalized a proposed parole plan, the case
manager notifies Community Corrections staff that the parole plan is ready for
investigation through IDOC’s computer system.
To help guide case managers in their work, Education and Treatment is currently
updating its offender program management policy. The new policy instructs case
managers on how and when to communicate with other IDOC staff and sets time
constraints on required actions to assist the parole plan approval process. It also
______________________________
5

This review process is separate from the exception process discussed in chapter 3.

31

Office of Performance Evaluations

instructs case managers on communication with IDOC parole officers and
commission hearing officers. Until implemented, case managers are not
currently obligated to reach out to other IDOC staff or commission staff to the
same extent as the new policy will specify. Our case manager survey found that
case managers do not consistently communicate with parole officers. When
communication with parole officers did occur, parole plans were discussed only
34 percent of the time.
Both IDOC staff and commission staff rely heavily on offender central files to
share information by entering notes for other staff to read. However, we found
that the offender’s central file contains a variety of information about the
offender and does not always clearly identify issues that are relevant to parole
preparation. In addition, updated information about an offender may not always
be communicated in a timely manner. Although Education and Treatment’s new
policy will help to alleviate this problem, it will not ensure that other IDOC staff
or commission staff are taking similar measures.

IDOC Does Not Have a Policy to Guide Parole Plan
Investigations
In addition to supervising offenders in the community, parole officers are
responsible for investigating and approving offender parole plans. Investigation
requests are distributed based on the district the offender plans to live in while
on parole.6 There is no department-wide policy to guide officers in conducting
investigations; each district has the discretion to modify the investigation process
based on its individual needs or preferences.
When conducting investigations, parole officers verify the proposed place of
residence, employment, and the community treatment provider to confirm the
accuracy of a parole plan. Parole officers must ensure that a parole plan complies
with the conditions of parole as directed by the commission. If a plan is
accepted, offenders move forward in the release process. If a plan is rejected, it
is returned to the case manager who helps the offender develop a new parole
plan or modify the existing plan.
Parole officers may contact the case manager directly to resolve any problems
rather than reject the parole plan. This approach allows the case manager to take
immediate steps with the offender to resolve the issue and reduces the likelihood
that the officer will reject the plan. We asked parole officers specifically
involved in the investigation process to complete a weekly survey over a fourweek period in October and November 2009. Twenty-eight parole officers who
participated in our survey reported that they contacted case managers 31 percent
of the time. Of those contacts, parole plans were only modified in one-third of
______________________________
6

32

Parole and probation districts align with Idaho’s seven judicial districts. Please see exhibit 2.2
in chapter 2.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

the cases. If parole officers and case managers are not communicating about
parole plans on a consistent basis, issues may not be resolved in a timely
manner.

Parole Plan Process Is Taking Longer to Complete
The parole plan process is comprised of several steps that involve offenders, case
managers, and parole officers. As part of their role, officers are given two weeks
to complete an investigation, but IDOC does not currently track how long it
takes to complete an investigation or whether other workload issues may be
affecting the investigation process. Parole officers who responded to our
workload survey self-reported spending an average of one hour on fieldwork and
about one hour on office work per investigation. However, of the officers who
responded to our survey and were unable to complete an investigation in the
week it was assigned, 35 percent said other assigned responsibilities were the
reason for delayed completion. For more information on the parole plan
workload study see appendix C. Chapter 5 provides more information about
parole officer workload issues that could be affecting the timeframes for parole
plan approval.
When looking at the overall parole plan process, which includes the initial parole
plan development, our analysis found that the average time taken to complete the
process has increased in the last three years from 26 days in 2007 to 42 days in
2009.
Year
2007
2008
2009

Days to Complete
26
33
42

Most Offenders Are Released After Their Tentative Parole Date
About one month prior to release, all relevant information about the offender is
compiled into a release packet. This packet is the last major step of the parole
process and includes information on the parole plan, completed programming,
disciplinary offenses, and other conditions of parole required by the commission.
When the packet is complete, it is delivered to the commission for final review
and signature by the executive director. Once finalized and signed by the
offender, IDOC coordinates with the offender for his or her release. Commission
staff noted that increased coordination between the two entities has helped to
streamline the process of coordinating offender releases.
Despite these efforts, we found that 69 percent of offenders were released after
their tentative parole date. In addition to programming, numerous factors affect
when an offender is released into the community, including the behavior of the
33

Office of Performance Evaluations

offender while incarcerated and his or her willingness to change. As part of our
analysis, we also examined the role of disciplinary offenses and offender reading
level as a factor in release delays. With the exception of disciplinary offenses
that occurred after a parole hearing, we found no statistically significant
relationship between these two factors and release delays. Appendix D provides
demographic information related to offender release delays.
As shown in exhibit 4.2, when calculating the cost-per-day differences between
incarceration and community supervision, we estimate that if the offenders in
our analysis had been released on their tentative parole date, the state would
have saved approximately $6.8 million.

EXHIBIT 4.2 ESTIMATED COST DIFFERENCES BETWEEN INCARCERATION AND COMMUNITY
SUPERVISION BASED ON OFFENDERS WITH A RELEASE DELAY, JANUARY 2007–SEPTEMBER 2009

Year

Total
Offenders
with Delay

Total
Days
Delayed

Cost of
Incarceration ($)

Cost of
Community
Supervision ($)

Difference ($)

2007

585

62,622

3,444,210

313,110

3,131,100

2008

616

63,437

3,489,035

317,185

3,171,850

2009a

197

9,714

534,270

48,570

485,700

1,398

135,773

7,467,515

678,865

6,788,650b

Total

Source: Analysis of data from the Department of Correction and the Commission of Pardons and Parole.
Note: The number of offenders released includes those with a delay of three days or more and does not include
those with open parole dates. The cost of incarceration is estimated at $55 per day per inmate and the cost of
supervision is estimated at $5 per day per inmate.
a
b

34

Year 2009 is a partial data set and may not indicate improvement in reducing delays. The data set is only for
offenders who have been granted parole and had been released as of September 14, 2009.
Of the $7 million, approximately $790,000 was due to delays in transferring offenders who were either paroling to
another state or serving another sentence in an Idaho county, in another state, or for the federal government.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Recommendations
Intent: Providing hearing officers and commissioners with an Idaho-specific
checklist to aid in the decision-making process will ensure that decisions are
based on specific, standardized criteria but still allow for individual discretion.
Recommendation 4.1: The Commission of Pardons and Parole
should formally incorporate the use of assessments in both its
programming and parole release decisions through the use of an
Idaho-specific checklist. In addition to assessments, this checklist
could include the consideration of criteria currently listed in
Administrative Rule.
Intent: Providing current and future commissioners with additional training
tools, including an Idaho-specific parole training manual, will enhance their
ability to perform their job duties and ensure that all commissioners are
operating within similar parameters when making decisions.
Recommendation 4.2: The Commission of Pardons and Parole
should develop a formal training procedure, including a training
manual, to assist commissioners. The manual could include
language regarding the Commission of Pardons and Parole’s
commitment to public safety and offender management, the
Department of Correction’s approach to programming, the
assessments used to help determine programming decisions, and
the risk assessment tools commissioners could apply in making
parole decisions.
Intent: Tracking commissioner-required programming as Pathways for Success
continues to evolve will allow IDOC and the commission to identify deficiencies
in the new programming model that may have not otherwise been discovered
until an offender’s parole hearing.
Recommendation 4.3: The Department of Correction and the
Commission of Pardons and Parole should collaborate to track
the frequency, reasons, and outcome associated with the
assignment of additional programming at parole hearings. The
Department of Correction and the Commission of Pardons and
Parole should review this information quarterly to ensure both
parties have a clear understanding of the Department of
Correction’s objectives and the Commission of Pardons and
Parole’s pre-release requirements.

35

Office of Performance Evaluations

Intent: A closer alignment of commission release requirements and IDOC
programming requirements through joint training will help reduce the number of
offenders who begin programming after their parole hearing.
Recommendation 4.4: The Department of Correction and the
Commission of Pardons and Parole should formalize
programming-related training between case managers and
hearing officers. This training could include information about
Pathways for Success, assessments used to determine
programming, and the eligibility criteria for each program.7
Intent: Reciprocal communication between IDOC and commission staff
throughout an offender’s incarceration will help prepare offenders for parole
hearings and reentry into the community.
Recommendation 4.5: The Department of Correction and the
Commission of Pardons and Parole should develop
communication tools that outline the points throughout an
offender’s incarceration at which case managers, hearing
officers, and parole officers should collaborate in determining an
offender’s readiness for his or her parole hearing and eventual
release.
Intent: Ensuring that all parole plan investigations are conducted in a similar
manner will help streamline the investigation process throughout the state.
Recommendation 4.6: The Department of Correction should
evaluate parole plan investigations by conducting a study over
several months and evaluating the options for some
standardization of the process. Once complete, the Department of
Correction should then develop a policy to guide officers in
conducting investigations.
Intent: A better understanding of the factors related to the parole plan process
taking longer will allow IDOC to review those factors and look for ways to
increase efficiencies.
Recommendation 4.7: As the Department of Correction
implements it new computer system, it should further evaluate the
parole plan process by tracking the timeframes surrounding plan
development and submissions.
______________________________
7

36

In a memo dated February 3, 2010, the Commission of Pardons and Parole outlined its
proposed training schedule for 2010, which includes some training with IDOC.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Chapter 5

Community Supervision
Offender Release
Once released to parole, an offender remains under the supervision of IDOC and
is allowed to complete the remainder of his or her sentence in the community.
While in the community, the offender must abide by parole conditions
determined by either the commission or the parole officer. These conditions may
include housing restrictions, employment responsibilities, and community
treatment requirements.
Offenders are required to report to their assigned parole officer within 24 hours
of release from prison. At that time, the assigned parole officer thoroughly
reviews with the offender conditions of parole and provides a general overview
of community supervision expectations.

Parole Officer Workload Is Increasing Faster than Staffing
Allocations in Some Districts
The Division of Community Corrections is divided into seven districts. Each
district is staffed based on the needs of that district, including the number and
type of offenders in each community. In addition to supervising parolees,
officers must also supervise, manage, and monitor the activities of every
probationer assigned to them. Although probationers were not a focus of this
study, they account for over 80 percent of the total officer caseload.
According to Community Corrections staff, guidelines are in place for maximum
caseload distribution.1 The amount of overall workload is determined by the
district supervisor and is assigned to each parole officer based on the total
number of cases in that district, staff availability, and other required duties.
However, IDOC has little control over the number or type of offenders who
parole to each district. This unpredictability makes it difficult for IDOC to
accurately project staffing needs.
______________________________
1

General cases should not exceed 80 per officer and specialized cases, such as sex offenders,
should not exceed 55 per officer.

37

Office of Performance Evaluations

Based on the specific needs of each district, an individual parole officer’s
workload could include many different facets:
•
•
•
•

Determine parole violations and conduct preliminary hearings
General supervision of probationers and parolees
Investigate parole plans
Other administrative responsibilities

Caseload and 
staffing are not  
evenly 
distributed 
throughout  
the state. 

When looking at elements of an officer’s workload that may be
linked to the parole process, we found the parole plan process has
become longer to complete over the last few years. Part of this
time extension could be attributed to more offenders paroling and
caseload counts increasing faster than staffing allocations.

To better understand the relationship between the process and
caseload distribution, we analyzed the caseload distribution in
each of the seven districts from January 2007 to September 2009.
As displayed in exhibit 5.1, the average caseload for each parole officer in
district three has steadily increased while caseloads in districts six and seven
have continued to decrease. As shown in exhibit 5.2, when we reviewed the first

EXHIBIT 5.1 AVERAGE NUMBER OF PROBATION AND PAROLE CASES PER OFFICER BY DISTRICT,
FISCAL YEARS 2007–2009
80

Number of Cases

60

2007

40

2008
2009
20

0
1

2

3

4

5

District Number

6

7

Statewide
Average

Source: Analysis of data from the Department of Correction.
Note: Data in 2007 is based on a partial year to align with the beginning timeframe of our primary data analysis.

38

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Number of Cases

EXHIBIT 5.2 AVERAGE NUMBER OF PROBATION AND PAROLE CASES PER OFFICER
BY DISTRICT, FIRST QUARTER OF FISCAL YEAR 2010

74

69

73

73

57

1

2

3

4

5

55

61
61

6

7

Statewide
Average (69)

District Number
Source: Analysis of data from the Department of Correction.

quarter of fiscal year 2010 we found that the average number of officer cases per
district continues to be unequal. IDOC staff stated they have worked over the
last several years to more appropriately allocate new staff in each district.
However, the change in staff allocation for districts may not have resolved
inequities that existed prior to current department staffing efforts.

Violation Process
The parole violation process addresses offenders who have been accused of not
following the conditions of their parole. The commission relies on parole
officers to report parole violations and other parole-related issues. As shown in
exhibit 5.3, the process is complex and affects the workload of both IDOC and
commission staff. Commission rule allows commissioners to review or
reconsider any previous decision for any reason and take whatever action they
deem appropriate.2
Federal case law requires due process be upheld during the parole violation
process to protect offender rights in two specific steps.3 Idaho is unique in its
______________________________
2
3

IDAHO ADMIN. CODE, IDAPA 50.01.01.100.05.
The US Supreme Court, in Morrisey v. Brewer, 408 US 471 (1972), required two steps in the parole
revocation process: an initial hearing to establish whether the offender is guilty of a parole violation, and
if needed, a second hearing to determine whether his or her parole should be revoked.
Due process of law is the administration of justice according to established rules and principles, based on
the principle that a person cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property without appropriate legal
procedures and safeguards. In the parole revocation process, these safeguards include notice to the
offender of the charges against him and an opportunity to respond to those charges.

39

40
Offender's violations
are technical

Commission issues warrant and
schedules violation hearing

IDOC submits a violation report to the
commission’s executive director for review

Parole officer finds probable cause

Designated parole officer conducts
preliminary hearing to
determine probable cause

Offender's violations
are non-technical

IDOC staff issue warrant for arrest

Parole officer and parole supervisor
discuss and review allegations

IDOC parole officer suspects
offender is violating parole

EXHIBIT 5.3 GENERAL VIOLATION AND REVOCATION PROCESS

Commission issues
warning letter; offender is
released to parole

Parole officer finds no
probable cause; offender
is released to parole

Offender remains on
parole with possible
alternative sanctions

Office of Performance Evaluations

Offender is
scheduled for a
new hearing

Offender is
released on parole

Commissioners reinstate
offender’s parole

Offender is issued
a new tentative
parole date

Commissioners revoke
offender’s parole

Commission holds a revocation
hearing with offender

Offender is transported to prison

Commission management denies
reinstatement to parole

Offender is
discharged from
parole

Commission of Pardons
and Parole process

Department of Correction
process

Source: IDAHO CODE §20-229; IDAHO ADMIN. CODE, 2003, IDAPA 50.01.01; Department of Correction’s policy manual; and feedback provided by Department of
Correction staff and Commission of Pardons and Parole staff.

Offender is
required
to serve full term
of sentence

Offender is found guilty of one or more allegations

Commission management
agrees; offender is
released to parole

Violation hearing officer
dismisses all charges;
offender is released
on parole

Violation hearing officer recommends
reinstatement to parole

Offender is found not
guilty of ALL allegations
and released to parole

Commission violation hearing officer conducts
violation hearing and determines guilt or
innocence of each allegation

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

41

Office of Performance Evaluations

approach to applying due process for offenders and has expanded the two-step
process by adding a third step.4

IDOC Conducts Initial Investigation but Does Not Have
Authority to Make Final Violation Decision
When an offender violates the technical conditions of parole, his or her parole
officer follows certain protocols outlined in IDOC policy to address the
allegations.5 In 2008, IDOC created a violation matrix for parole officers to
uniformly respond to alleged parole violations using sanction guidelines. The
matrix ensures that sanctions are based on the offender risk level and the severity
of the current behavior.
After a parole officer determines that the violations merit an arrest, IDOC staff
follow three major steps:
1. The officer will discuss the allegations with a supervisor, if a supervisor
is available. As shown in step two of exhibit 5.3, the parole officer and
supervisor will determine whether an arrest or an alternative sanction is
best suited for the offender.
2. If they decide an arrest is necessary, the parole officer issues an agent’s
warrant for the offender’s arrest. If a supervisor is unavailable, the
district office may issue a warrant but must notify a supervisor and the
commission within one business day.
3. Once an offender is arrested on an agent’s warrant, a second parole
officer conducts a preliminary hearing with the offender in attendance to
determine whether probable cause exists to hold the offender pending a
fact-finding hearing.6 If probable cause is found, a violation report is
submitted to the commission for review and possible issuance of a
commission warrant.

______________________________
4

5

6

42

Idaho has separated out the required first fact-finding step into two steps: (1) a preliminary
hearing to determine whether probable cause exists to believe the offender violated the terms
of his or her parole and should remain in custody pending a hearing to determine whether a
violation actually occurred, and (2) a fact-finding violation hearing to determine guilt. The
third step in the violation process is the revocation hearing.
Technical violations include all violations except the conviction of a new crime, felony or
misdemeanor, and absconding from parole. Some examples are failure to abide by curfew,
failure to pay restitution, or missing an appointment with the parole officer.
According to the Idaho State Judiciary, “Probable cause is the amount of information needed
to justify the issuance of an arrest warrant or search warrant, or to allow an officer to make an
arrest without a warrant…. It is defined as facts and circumstances sufficient to allow a
prudent person to believe that a person committed a crime, or that contraband or evidence of a
crime is present at a particular location.”

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Final violation determinations are not a function of IDOC. Rather, IDOC relies
on the commission, and ultimately the authority of the commissioners, to
consider its findings and take the necessary steps toward a revocation hearing.

Violation Process Involves Multiple Reviews by Commission
Staff
The commission’s executive director, as shown in exhibit 5.3, has the
responsibility to review parole violation allegations and either issue a
commission warrant or release the offender back to parole.7 According to
commission staff, the hearing officer supervisor reviews the violation reports
submitted by IDOC and decides whether a commission warrant needs to be
issued.
If a commission warrant is issued, the commission proceeds through the
following process:
1. The executive director signs the commission warrant, the warrant is
served to the offender at the county jail, and a violation hearing is
scheduled. Upon the offender’s receipt of the warrant, the commission’s
violation hearing officer has thirty days to conduct the hearing.8 Once the
commission’s warrant is issued, the offender’s parole is suspended.
2. A violation hearing is conducted to determine the guilt or innocence of
the offender as to each allegation brought forth by the parole officer. The
violation hearing officer must provide the offender with his or her
findings within twenty days of the hearing.
3. If the offender is found not guilty of the allegations, the offender is
released back to parole.
4. If the violation hearing officer finds the offender guilty, the offender is
transported to prison to await a revocation hearing before the
commissioners.
Despite a guilty finding, a violation hearing officer may recommend that an
offender be reinstated to parole. Commission management then has the
discretion to agree with the officer and release the offender without a revocation
hearing, or may deny the reinstatement and recommend the offender be heard in
front of the commissioners.

______________________________
7
8

IDAHO ADMIN. CODE, IDAPA 50.01.01.400.02.b.
IDAHO CODE § 20-229.

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Office of Performance Evaluations

Not All Violations Result in Parole Revocation
During the revocation hearing, commissioners review and discuss the violations,
and the offender is provided an opportunity to explain why he or she should be
reinstated to parole.9 As shown in exhibit 5.3, commissioners can decide to
reinstate or revoke an offender’s parole. Commissioners also have full discretion
to give the offender credit for none, some, or all of the time served while
previously on parole.10
When considering recommendations from both IDOC and commission staff,
commissioners must use their authority to make final revocation determinations.
As a result of the revocation hearing, some offenders have their parole reinstated
and are released back into the community. Of the 1,645 offenders that had a
revocation hearing from January 2007 to September 2009:
•

67 percent had their parole revoked

•

28 percent had their parole revoked but were granted a new tentative
parole date

•

5 percent were reinstated or discharged from parole

For the 5 percent of offenders who went through the multiple steps of the
violation process and were found guilty of violating parole, but were ultimately
reinstated to or discharged from parole, the state spent more than $783,000 in
continued offender management. If commissioners had the opportunity to make
release decisions in a more timely manner, it would have reduced costs as well as
saved the time and resources of IDOC and commission staff involved.

Recommendations
Intent: Regularly reviewing the location of offenders under community
supervision throughout the state will allow IDOC to adjust staffing allocations
and better manage caseloads.
Recommendation 5.1: The Department of Correction should
formalize its efforts to regularly review staffing allocations and
trends in offender releases, including the districts that offenders
parole to and the level of supervision these offenders require. At
least annually, the Department of Correction should monitor
staffing allocations to identify any trends and consider
reallocating staff among its districts to better align with shifts in
community supervision demands.
______________________________
9
10

44

According to commission data, revocation hearings represented approximately 25 percent of
the commissioners’ caseload in 2008.
IDAHO ADMIN. CODE, IDAPA 50.01.01.400.10.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Intent: An updated review of the violation process will preserve the authority of
commissioners to make revocation determinations and may help to reduce the
incarceration costs for those offenders whose parole is ultimately reinstated.
Recommendation 5.2: The Department of Correction and the
Commission of Pardons and Parole should work with the Office
of the Attorney General to review the violation process by
evaluating each step of the process and to clarify the role of the
Department of Correction staff and the Commission of Pardons
and Parole staff in determining how violation decisions are made.
If necessary, the Commission of Pardons and Parole should then
amend its rules to more accurately reflect the process associated
with violations and revocations.

45

Office of Performance Evaluations

46

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Chapter 6

Commission Operations

Organizational Structure
Although statutorily attached to the Department of Correction (IDOC), the
Commission of Pardons and Parole functions as a separate, independent agency.
The current configuration provides the commission autonomy in its daily
operations similar to that of a state agency but does not require the commission
to comply with the same annual reporting requirements of other agencies. In
terms of its daily operations, the commission relies on IDOC for policies and
procedures and does not have its own set of measurable goals and performance
measures, an approach that contradicts its independent role.

Statutory Framework Does Not Provide Commission with
Complete Independence
According to IDOC and commission management, the working relationship
between the two entities has improved over the last several years, due in part to a
more clear separation of duties. However, the two entities continue to be linked
in statute. The commission operates independently of IDOC, but remains in the
section of code related to the Board of Correction.1
As shown in exhibit 6.1, state appropriated funds are distributed to the
commission through IDOC’s annual appropriations bill.2 Operationally, as
shown in exhibit 6.2, the commission functions separately from IDOC.3 The
commissioners and the executive director are appointed by the Governor. The
executive director is responsible for administering the daily business of the
commission.

______________________________
1
2

3

IDAHO CODE § 20-201.
To more closely align with the current operations, the Governor has recommended that the
commission be given its own agency code and own appropriation bill in fiscal year 2011. This
change, however, will not statutorily designate the commission as an independent agency.
The commission relies on IDOC for some services: payroll processing, human resources,
technology support, and other fiscal needs.

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Office of Performance Evaluations
EXHIBIT 6.1 BUDGET PROCESS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION AND THE
COMMISSION OF PARDONS AND PAROLE
Budget Requests

Budget Appropriations

Commission of
Pardons and Parole

Legislature

Department of
Correction

Department of
Correction

Governor

Commission of
Pardons and Parole

Sources: Legislative Services Office, Budget and Policy Analysis, Legislative Budget Book and
Legislative Fiscal Report, 2009; interviews with Commission of Pardons and Parole staff.

EXHIBIT 6.2 APPOINTMENT PROCESS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION AND
THE COMMISSION OF PARDONS AND PAROLE
Governor

Board of Correction
Board Members

Commission of Pardons and Parole
Commissioners and
Executive Director

Department of Correction
Director
Source: Legislative Services Office, Budget and Policy Analysis, Legislative Budget Book and
Legislative Fiscal Report, 2009; interviews with Commission of Pardons and Parole staff.

48

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Given this lack of clarity, the commission cannot function as a fully independent
state agency. Both IDOC and the commission agree that statute should be
changed to reflect the current operating structure. Such a change will make the
commission a fully independent agency and will provide more transparency of
its operations.

Reliance on IDOC Policies Contradicts Commission’s
Independent Role
Although the commission operates as an independent entity, it relies on IDOC’s
business administration and human resource policies, which were not written to
meet the specific needs of the commission. The commission operates without
any formal procedures for interacting with offenders, evaluating employee
performance, or making parole release recommendations, all of which are
critical elements of the commission’s work. As stated by the National Institute of
Corrections, evidence-based practices specific to paroling authorities emphasize
the importance of establishing a clear and comprehensive framework to guide
the efforts of all staff as well as the work of commissioners.
The institute also suggests that paroling authorities develop measurable
outcomes or goals that align with their mission statements. The commission has
a broad mission statement, but lacks measurable goals and has not drafted or
reported on specific performance measures for the past three years, a
requirement of all state agencies. The use of performance measures can help
guide agencies in the development of specific, measureable goals as well as
provide an internal mechanism to gauge how well they are meeting those goals.
IDOC has a strategic plan that reflects its mission and outlines key performance
goals, but these goals are specific to IDOC and do not address the commission.
By not developing a set of defined, measurable goals and accompanying policies
and procedures, the commission cannot function completely independent of
IDOC.

Hearing Officer Guidance
Although some officers received comprehensive training as new hires, officers in
general receive little ongoing training to strengthen or expand their skills when
completing assigned tasks. In addition to limited training, hearing officers
reported receiving limited feedback from supervisors about the quality of their
performance.

New Hearing Officers Are Pleased with Training, but More
Training Is Needed
Within the past two years, the commission has developed an internal training
procedure for new hearing officers. During our interviews with hearing officers,
we specifically questioned them about training. Officers who completed the new
49

Office of Performance Evaluations

training procedure were pleased with the quality of the training and guidance
provided by the training officer. Officers hired prior to the development of the
new procedure reported going through a less extensive, informal shadowing
process. To provide all staff with similar types of training, both new hires and
existing staff should participate in the commission’s updated training procedure.
Officers agreed that staff could benefit from additional ongoing training in
interviewing and writing skills. A number of officers reported they had received
minimal training since their initial new-hire training. The commission’s goal is
to provide 40 hours of training in a 12-month period. A review of all
commission staff training hours from June 2007 to October 2009 showed that
commission staff averaged 5.5 hours of training, which is only 14 percent of the
commission’s annual training goal.
The executive director stated that the commission would like to provide more
training opportunities to hearing officers but has not been able to because of
budget constraints. Although we recognize that training resources are currently
limited, our results from hearing officer interviews and review of staff training
hours indicate that hearing officers could benefit from additional ongoing
training. If outside training is not an option, the commission should consider inhouse training or training in conjunction with IDOC.

Hearing Officers Lack Ongoing Feedback and Performance
Appraisals
During interviews we asked hearing officers about the feedback they receive
from management. Of those asked, more than half stated they receive little or no
feedback. In addition, some officers reported that commission management does
not regularly provide staff with performance appraisals, which could be a
valuable source of staff feedback.4
We asked the hearing officer supervisor about how and when officer
performance is evaluated. The hearing officer supervisor stated that he generally
tries to provide feedback informally, providing formal feedback only when
issues arise. He also stated the performance appraisals are conducted annually, a
response that did not align with the concerns expressed by several officers.
This disconnect suggests that the hearing officer supervisor’s approach to
providing feedback may not be the most effective way to communicate with
staff. Without the use of formal policies and procedures to ensure the timely
completion and distribution of performance appraisals, the commission is unable
to provide officers with ongoing performance feedback or opportunities to
improve deficiencies.
______________________________
4

50

In a memo dated February 7, 2010, the Commission of Pardons and Parole indicated that most
employee appraisals had been conducted as of January 27, 2010.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Staff Workload
In response to recent budget holdbacks, the commission’s executive director has
left several staff positions unfilled. As a result, some commission staff have been
required to take on additional duties, increasing their workload. In the case of
hearing officers, the commission is not adequately measuring workload and
cannot accurately gauge the impact of additional duties on these staff.

Hearing Officer Workload Is Not Measured
In 2008, the commission contracted with an independent consultant to evaluate
the time it took staff to complete their job duties. The study found that officers
substantially over-reported the time it took to complete their monthly duties.5 As
a result, one of the recommendations in the study encouraged the commission to
further investigate the matter. However, the commission has not yet clarified the
discrepancies, nor finalized the study draft.
We asked hearing officers to report how long it took to complete their job duties
in a typical 40-hour work week. Most officers were unable to quantify how they
spent their time; our analysis of those interviews found that 50 percent of
officers thought report writing consumed most of their weekly workload.
The commission has been requiring hearing officers to submit individual
monthly caseload reports detailing the dates of officer interviews, parole
hearings, and report writing since 2007. However, the hearing officer supervisor
confirmed that caseload reports are not being used and have never been analyzed
or summarized to assess the workload for each hearing officer. During hearing
officer interviews, some officers stated that workload is unevenly distributed and
not all officers are held accountable for the completion of job duties. The
commission currently has no formal mechanism in place to evaluate workload,
the effect of additional duties on current workload, or a process to resolve officer
concerns that workload is not distributed equitably.
Considering the 2008 study findings have not been addressed and the
commission does not track hearing officer workload, we analyzed a sample of
the caseload reports from 2009. We found that these reports lacked certain
details that could be helpful in determining officer workload, such as time spent
on certain elements of the investigation process. In their current format,
preparing these reports may not be a good use of officer time.

______________________________
5

The 2008 study showed that, on average, officers were reporting more than 400 hours per
month (100 hours per week) working on hearing-related tasks.

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Office of Performance Evaluations

Administrative Staff Report Workload Increases Due to Budget
Constraints
The commission employs ten administrative staff to support its daily operations.
These employees provide services such as tracking and filing inmate
information, coordinating victim services, and processing legal appeals. With
two unfilled positions, administrative staff have been given additional job duties,
leaving them with less time to complete their original job duties. We interviewed
nine administrative staff to better understand their role in the parole process.
One-third of administrative staff said that efficiencies at the commission could
be improved with the addition of more administrative staff or better delegation
of tasks. A list of questions asked during the administrative staff interviews is
provided in appendix E.
During hearing officer interviews, some officers noted that administrative staff
are underappreciated and experience high turnover rates. Nearly half of the
officers mentioned that the working environment for administrative staff needed
improvement. These perceptions indicate the commission may need to further
investigate administrative staff workload and the distribution of additional
duties.

Staff Do Not Always Maximize Technology
Between 2001 and 2005, we released three reports on data management at the
commission, noting instances in which the commission was not using current
technology for its work and recommended the use of technology in the
commission’s daily operations. The commission has since started to incorporate
additional technology to improve the efficiencies of its operations. The executive
director has indicated that she would like to incorporate more technology in the
daily operations, but would need guidance on how to accomplish that.
Large Scale Needs
IDOC is replacing its old offender management system with a new web-based
computer system, called the Correctional Integrated System (CIS). IDOC and the
commission have held several meetings and have developed a requirements
document to help guide department technology staff in developing the
commission’s module.
Based on our observations of these meetings, as well as our interviews with
hearing officers, we found that commission management may not have obtained
sufficient input from staff for the development and the implementation of its
module. As a result, commission staff remain unclear of their needs as end-users.
Commission staff and IDOC staff continue to work to finalize the requirements
document and implement the commission’s module.

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Daily Needs
IDOC voluntarily provides technology support for the
commission’s large-scale needs; the commission must
provide its own support for daily technology needs.
Currently, the commission uses both spreadsheets and text
tables to track decisions for parole hearings, revocation
hearings, medical paroles, and early discharges—a
significant improvement over the approach the
commission was using several years ago.6

The commission 
lacks sufficient 
technology capacity 
to determine the 
most appropriate 
approaches for 
tracking and 
analyzing parole‐
related data. 

Although text tables can be useful for report writing and
other word processing needs, spreadsheet and database
programs specifically designed for data management
would more closely align with the commission’s data
needs. During our analysis, we observed several instances where data in the
commission’s text tables did not tally with its own annual statistics. Because the
commission is not consistently using data-oriented software, commission staff,
including the executive director, may be inefficiently using their time and
resources to analyze parole-related data.

Commission Management
Given the concerns raised about staff workload, we further examined the daily
operations of the commission to identify areas for improvement or additional
efficiencies. Personnel issues were initially outside our study objectives but were
brought to us by staff who expressed serious concerns about how staff are
treated. Therefore, as required by government auditing standards, it was our
responsibility to report on personnel issues as they significantly affected our
evaluation.

Attendance at Parole Hearings Requires the Executive Director
to Be Out of the Office for Significant Periods of Time
The executive director has served in her role for 25 years and possesses a wealth
of knowledge about the commission and Idaho’s parole process. The executive
director is responsible for the day-to-day management of the commission;
commission rule gives the executive director the authority to approve conditions
of parole, issue commission warrants, and issue parole release documents and all
other official documents pertaining to the commission. Commission rule also
gives both the Governor and commissioners the authority to delegate tasks to the
executive director.7
______________________________
6
7

The commission uses Microsoft Office, which includes Word and Excel.
IDAHO ADMIN. CODE, IDAPA 50.01.01.150.02.a.ii.

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Office of Performance Evaluations

At the request of the commissioners, the executive director generally attends
every parole hearing to read commissioner decisions to offenders and advise the
commissioners on rules and laws. The commission has implemented the use of
tele-video conferencing for some hearings to reduce travel time and costs, but
attendance at parole hearings requires the executive director to be out of the
office one to two weeks each month.
The executive director has delegated some of the commission’s daily operations,
including budget and human resource management responsibilities, to the
hearing officer supervisor. Despite this delegation of duties, several commission
staff commented that the executive director is sometimes too busy with other
tasks when asked to provide staff with necessary feedback. Throughout our
study, the executive director also noted that her workload was very demanding
and often resulted in her working long hours.
Given the daily demands of the executive director, as well as the concerns
expressed by staff, commissioners should consider exploring options to allow
the executive director to spend more time managing the daily operations of the
commission.

Commission Does Not Have an Effective Communication and
Grievance Process to Ensure Staff Are Treated Fairly
As part of our interview process, we asked staff to identify areas for additional
efficiencies. In response to that question, concerns were raised about the
commission’s working environment. Through subsequent interviews,
commission staff revealed that commission management does not provide staff
with a formal, confidential process to raise concerns, make complaints, or offer
suggestions. Instead, staff have two informal options:
•
•

They may approach their supervisor directly
They may voice their opinions or raise concerns during staff meetings

Staff interviews provided varied responses about the commission’s informal
communication and grievance processes. Management stated that it is
approachable and that staff are comfortable voicing opinions through the
informal processes. Although some staff commented they feel comfortable
discussing concerns with management, other staff reported that management is
often unapproachable.
These contradictory responses indicate a discrepancy between management and
staff perceptions about the commission’s informal communication and grievance
processes. Without a formal process for staff to raise issues, the commission may
be limiting staff’s ability to engage in effective problem solving or to contribute
ideas that may enhance the overall success of the commission.

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Through the course of our interviews, several staff were reluctant to participate,
citing concerns about retaliation from their immediate supervisor or the
executive director. Although some staff noted having positive experiences with
their supervisor and the executive director, over 40 percent of staff expressed
concerns ranging from frustration with management to being fearful of
retaliation by the executive director.
The working environment of any agency has a significant impact on its overall
efficiency and effectiveness. Because the commission does not have formal
policies and procedures specific to the commission or an effective process to
confidentially raise concerns or make suggestions, there is currently no
mechanism to ensure staff are provided with a fair, internal process to resolve
conflicts, raise complaints, and receive guidance on how to complete job duties.8

Recommendations
Intent: The creation of the commission as a state agency will help ensure
accountability and transparency of operations.
Recommendation 6.1: The Legislature should review the current
statutory framework of the commission and evaluate whether the
commission should be designated as a fully independent state
agency.
Intent: A commission-specific policy and procedure manual will ensure all staff
have a clear understanding of the commission’s requirements and expectations.
Recommendation 6.2: The Commission of Pardons and Parole
should develop its own policy and procedure manual. The
commission should also ensure that all existing and future staff
have a clear understanding of the office policies and procedures
by providing an orientation of the new material.

______________________________
8

Commission staff can formally pursue grievances through external entities, such as IDOC
Human Resources, the Division of Human Resources, and the Office of the Attorney General.
However, these options may seem to be a last resort for staff and do not offer an ongoing
mechanism for providing feedback and resolving conflicts.

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Office of Performance Evaluations

Intent: Well-defined, measurable goals will allow both staff and the
commissioners to work within a common framework and provide the
commission with transparency and accountability in its operations.
Recommendation 6.3: The Commission of Pardons and Parole
should develop clearly defined goals. As part of this development
process, the commission should review its mission statement and
ensure its goals can provide measureable outcomes in a
reasonable timeframe. The commission should review its goals
annually to ensure they align with the commission’s desired
outcomes.
Intent: Understanding the workload issues of staff will allow commission
management to make adjustments as necessary and find specific opportunities to
increase efficiencies.
Recommendation 6.4: The Commission of Pardons and Parole
should follow up on the findings of the 2008 consultant study to
better understand the length of time associated with various
components of the hearing officer investigation process.
Recommendation 6.5: The hearing officer supervisor should
evaluate and expand the types of information officers are
required to submit to more accurately reflect workload issues, to
regularly review the monthly reports that officers submit, to
summarize those findings, and to analyze the information to
identify trends in caseload or time management.
Recommendation 6.6: In partnership with hearing officers, the
hearing officer supervisor should identify ways to assist officers
in streamlining the investigation process.
Recommendation 6.7: Given the increase of duties to existing
staff, the executive director should review the distribution of new
duties to minimize the impact on staff’s ability to complete their
previously assigned duties.

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Intent: Maximizing technology will allow the commission to improve processes
and reduce staff workload.
Recommendation 6.8: The Commission of Pardons and Parole
should develop its internal technology capacity, providing staff a
better understanding of how additional technology could
streamline processes, reduce duplication of efforts, and increase
efficiencies. This development may include basic training in word
processing and data management for all staff and targeted
training for those staff with additional technology-related duties.
As part of this training, the commission should also consider
whether more elements of its data should be maintained through
its CIS module.
Intent: Dedicating sufficient time to managing the daily operations of the
commission will provide the executive director with opportunities to create
policies and procedures, formalize training opportunities, and effectively lead
commission staff.
Recommendation 6.9: The commissioners should consider
options to allow the executive director more time to manage the
daily operations of the commission, including developing policies
and procedures, creating training guidelines for commissioners,
and building on the capacity of existing commission staff.
Intent: Providing staff with a formal mechanism to raise concerns, make
suggestions, and provide feedback will improve management practices and
improve the working relationship between staff and management.
Recommendation 6.10: As the appointing authority, the Office of
the Governor should ensure that the executive director of the
Commission of Pardons and Parole establish a formal,
commission-specific communication and grievance process to
improve the working relationship between management and staff
and ensure all staff are treated fairly.

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Appendix A

IDOC Primary Intake Assessments
According to IDOC staff, evidence-based assessments are used to determine all
offender pathways and custody levels. Assessments are typically administered at
an offender’s arrival at the Reception and Diagnostic Unit (RDU).
Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) is
primarily administered by Community Corrections staff
as part of the pre-sentence investigation; the score is also
reviewed by RDU staff during the intake process. The
individualized domain score is used to determine
treatment needs. The aggregate score is used to
determine community supervision custody level.
Static 99 is a ten-item scale used to estimate the
probability of sexual or violent recidivism in adult male
offenders with at least one sexual offense against a child
or non-consenting adult.1

Some IDOC 
assessments 
complement one 
another and can be 
used in conjunction 
with other 
assessments to 
determine education 
and treatment 
programming needs. 

Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) measures basic
reading, math, and language skills.2
Texas Christian University Drug Screen II (TCU-DS II) is a self-reported
questionnaire that must be verified by a trained employee to measure underlying
substance abuse needs.

______________________________
1
2

Static 99 is not applicable to females, minors, or some sexual offenses.
Offenders must demonstrate a minimum 6th grade reading level to enroll in most
programming. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of IDOC staff.

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Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Appendix B

Case Manager Survey

We surveyed Idaho’s institutional case managers about their perceived
communication with hearing officers and parole officers. We received responses
from 32 of the 49 case managers surveyed. The results of the survey are
presented below.

Communication Between IDOC Case Managers and
Commission Hearing Officers
1. Please estimate the percentage of cases where hearing officers initiate
communication with you about offenders who are nearing their hearing officer
interview. (Select one of the following.)
N

Percent

0 percent of all cases

13

40.6

1–25 percent of all cases

10

31.3

26–50 percent of all cases

1

3.1

51–75 percent of all cases

3

9.4

76–100 percent of all cases

5

15.6

32

100

Total

2. Please estimate the percentage of cases where you initiate communication with
hearing officers about offenders who are nearing their hearing officer interview.
(Select one of the following.)
N

Percent

0 percent of all cases

16

50.0

1–25 percent of all cases

10

31.3

26–50 percent of all cases

2

6.3

51–75 percent of all cases

2

6.3

76–100 percent of all cases

2

6.3

32

100

Total

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3. When communicating with hearing officers, what types of information do you
primarily discuss with each other? (Please select the top three.)
Number of
Times
Selected

Percent

Offender’s parole plan (housing, employment,
aftercare)

17

23.9

Completion of Pathways for Success or other required
programming as outlined in the case plan

13

18.3

Offender’s behavior while incarcerated

13

18.3

Personal impression of offender

7

9.9

IDOC assessments

3

4.2

Other

6

8.5

12

16.9

71

100

Not applicable
Total

4. When communicating with hearing officers, how likely do you think they are to
consider your input in their decision making? (Select one of the following.)
N

Percent

5

15.6

13

40.6

Very likely

5

15.6

Not applicable

9

28.1

32

100

Not at all likely
Somewhat likely

Total

Communication Between IDOC Case Managers and
IDOC Parole Officers
1. Please estimate the percentage of cases where parole officers initiate
communication with you about offenders who have been granted a tentative
parole date. (Select one of the following.)
N

Percent

0 percent of all cases

14

43.8

1–25 percent of all cases

17

53.1

26–50 percent of all cases

1

3.1

51–75 percent of all cases

0

0.0

76–100 percent of all cases

0

0.0

32

100

Total

62

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process
2. Please estimate the percentage of cases where you initiate communication with
parole officers about offenders who have been granted a tentative parole date.
(Select one of the following.)
N

Percent

0 percent of all cases

11

34.4

1–25 percent of all cases

14

43.8

26–50 percent of all cases

1

3.1

51–75 percent of all cases

4

12.5

76–100 percent of all cases

2

6.3

32

100

Total

3. When communicating with parole officers, what types of information do you
primarily discuss with each other? (Please select the top three.)
Number of
Times
Selected

Percent

Offender’s parole plan (housing, employment,
aftercare)

21

28.4

Offender’s behavior while incarcerated

14

18.9

Completion of Pathways for Success or other required
programming as outlined in the case plan

12

16.2

Personal impression of offender

6

8.1

IDOC assessments

2

2.7

Other

7

9.5

12

16.2

74

100

Not applicable
Total

4. When communicating with parole officers, how likely do you think they are to
consider your input in their decision making? (Select one of the following.)
N
Not at all likely

Percent

3

9.4

15

46.9

Very likely

7

21.9

Not applicable

7

21.9

32

100

Somewhat likely

Total

Source: Survey of Department of Correction case managers, October 2009.
Note: For the purposes of this survey, we defined communication as any dialogue between the
case managers and both hearing officers and parole officers, either in-person, via telephone,
via e-mail, or through the Correctional Integrated System (CIS).

63

Office of Performance Evaluations

64

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Appendix C

Parole Plan Investigation
Workload Study
We surveyed Idaho’s parole officers about the time they spend conducting
parole plan investigations. Our one-month study asked officers about their time
spent conducting field and office work, their time communicating with case
managers, and the reasons parole plans were rejected. We received responses
from 28 of 82 officers for 78 different parole plan submissions. The results of
the study are presented below.

Responses by District (N=78)
N

Percent

District 1
District 2
District 3

11
10
9

14.1
12.8
11.5

District 4

7

9.0

District 5

15

19.2

District 6

5

6.4

District 7

21

26.9

Total

78

100

IDOC refers to  
its parole plan 
investigation process 
as a request for 
investigation or RFI. 

Reported Time Spent on an RFI (N=78)
N

Percent

Average
Hours

Minimum
Hours

Maximum
Hours

Time spent on fieldwork
(e.g., drive time, home visits)

54

69.2

1.1

0.5

3

Time spent in the office
(e.g., phone calls, data entry)

75

96.2

0.7

0.1

3

Case Manager Contact and Parole Plan Modification (N=78)
Yes

No

Did you contact the case manager?

N
24

Percent
30.8

N
54

Percent
69.2

If yes, was the parole plan modified?

8

33.3

16

66.7

65

Office of Performance Evaluations
RFI Completion (N=78)
Yes
Did you complete the RFI this week?

N
67

No
Percent
85.9

N
11

Percent
14.1

If no, please indicate a reason that the RFI was not completed. (Check all that apply.)
(N=11)
Number of
Times
Selected

Percent

Had other offender supervision responsibilities

6

35.3

Was unable to contact the case manager

3

17.6

Housing

3

17.6

Aftercare

0

0.0

Employment

0

0.0

Had fewer than 10 days to investigate the RFI

0

0.0

Other

5

29.4

17

100

Total

Accepted

Rejected

(N=65)

N

Percent

N

Percent

If the RFI was completed this week, was it
accepted or rejected?

51

78.5

14

21.5

If the RFI was rejected, select the reasons for its rejection. (Check all that apply.)
(N=14)
Number of
Times
Selected
Housing

12

60.0

Employment

2

10.0

Aftercare

1

5.0

Had fewer than 10 days to investigate the RFI

0

0.0

Was unable to contact the case manager

0

0.0

Had other offender supervision responsibilities

0

0.0

Other

5

25.0

20

100

Total
Source: Survey of Department of Correction parole officers, fall 2009.

66

Percent

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Appendix D

Demographic Data of Paroled
Offenders
Of the 2,017 offenders granted a tentative parole date between January 2007 and
September 2009, several demographic factors were analyzed and found to be
statistically significant but individually were not strong predictors of parole
release delays. Demographic factors analyzed were gender, associated crime
group, age, and ethnic group.
We also analyzed the relationship between an offender’s reading level and
release as well as the relationship between disciplinary write up and release. Our
analysis found that while these factors may affect some offenders, there were no
statistically significant findings overall associated with these two factors.1

Gender
On average, women spent 55 days in prison beyond their tentative parole date
while male offenders spent an average of 21 days. When broken out by district,
women had longer delays in four of the seven districts.

Male Offenders

Female Offenders

District

N

Average
Delay (Days)

N

Average
Delay (Days)

1

171

80

19

77

2

32

61

3

17

3

237

58

34

84

4

493

71

89

96

5

181

63

19

55

6

73

60

28

71

7

149

65

21

98

Note: Analysis was only for those offenders who paroled within Idaho.

______________________________
1

Offender reading levels were analyzed using the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE)
reading scores for both the first recorded score and highest recorded score while incarcerated.

67

Office of Performance Evaluations

Crime Group
Of the cases with a specified crime, release delays were longest for alcohol
crimes and shortest for murder and manslaughter crimes.
Crime Group

Number of

Average
Delay (Days)

Alcohol

134

50

Assault

437

24

Drug

741

18

Murder and Manslaughter

23

0

Property

521

48

Sex

161

27

Age
Overall we found that the youngest offenders had release delays more than twice
as long as the oldest offenders.

Age Group

Number of
Offenders

Average
Delay (Days)

23 or younger

100

33

24–31

692

30

32–38

468

26

39–50

593

19

51 or older

164

14

Ethnic Group
Of the cases with identified ethnicities, delays were longest for American Indian
offenders and shortest for Black offenders.

Ethnicity

68

Number of
Offenders

Average
Delay (Days)

Black

37

15

Hispanic

342

17

American Indian

63

39

White

1,538

27

Other

37

48

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Appendix E

Interview Questions for
Commission Staff
Background and Methodology
To gain an understanding of perceived communication between case managers
and hearing officers, we drafted two comparable surveys. We provided these
draft surveys to IDOC and commission management for their review and
comment prior to distribution. Following feedback from IDOC management, we
distributed the questions to IDOC staff using a web-based survey (See appendix
B).
Rather than review the draft and provide us with comments or concerns,
commission management directly distributed the draft survey to all hearing
officers without instructions or a guarantee of confidentiality. Further, the
commission management instructed hearing officers to submit their survey
responses directly to commission management, who would then forward those
responses to us.
The premature distribution of the draft survey compromised the integrity of the
survey to the extent we could no longer use the survey approach to collect data
from hearing officers. We notified the commission that a web-based survey was
no longer feasible and that an alternative would be needed to gain meaningful
feedback from hearing officers. We modified our methodology and arranged for
individual interviews with each of the officers. We created new questions that
were reviewed for tone and content by our independent consultant. This time we
did not share the draft questions with commission management.
During the first round of interviews, the independent consultant interviewed
officers while one of our evaluators took notes. While providing responses,
officers identified additional issues such as training, workload, working
environment, and the treatment of administrative staff to such an extent that we,
in consultation with our consultant, determined additional follow-up was needed.
We then conducted additional interviews with six hearing officers, all
administrative staff, the hearing officer supervisor, and the hearings manager.

69

Office of Performance Evaluations

Interview questions, as well as the draft survey that was terminated, are
presented on the following pages. Because the interviews were confidential and
answers included indentifying information, we did not provide those responses.

Draft Parole Hearing Officer Survey Questions
Sent for review to the commission’s executive director on October 21, 20091
1. For each case you handle, how many hours do you generally spend on each
of the following tasks? (in increments of 0.5 or greater):
a. Investigation _____
b. Travel _____
c. Conducting interview _____
d. Writing report _____
2. In what percentage of cases do you contact case managers? (Please select
one of the following.)
a. 0% of all cases
b. 1% to 25% of all cases
c. 26% to 50% of all cases
d. 51% to 75% of all cases
e. 76% to 100% of all cases
3. During your investigation, how far in advance of the hearing officer
interview do you generally contact the case manager? (Please select one of
the following.)
a. Less than 1 week
b. 1 week to 1 month
c. 1–3 months
d. 4–6 months
e. I generally do not contact case managers
4. When making recommendations to the commissioners, what criteria do you
primarily rely on? (Please select the top three.)
a. Completion of Pathways or other required programming
b. Personal impression of offender (your gut feeling)
c. Offender’s behavior while incarcerated
d. Education and treatment assessments
e. Case manager’s suggestions or input
f. Additional criteria not listed above (please specify)
______________________________
1

70

As explained on the previous page, the survey was never conducted. Instead, individual
interviews were conducted with each commission staff.

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Parole Hearing Officer Interview Questions
Conducted November 13 and 19, 2009; number of individuals interviewed: 18
1. In what percentage of cases do you contact case managers as part of your
investigation?
2. If yes, at what point in the investigation (before or after interview)?
3. In what percentage of cases do case managers contact you as part of your
investigation?
4. When communicating with case managers, what types of information do you
primarily discuss with each other?
5. Within a 40-hour work week, how many hours do you spend on each of the
following tasks: investigation, travel, conducting interviews, and report
writing?
6. In addition to the information you provide to your supervisor, do you track
your workload, case completion, or the results of parole hearings?
7. Are there features you would like to see as part of the new CIS commission
module that could make your investigations more efficient?
8. When making recommendations to the commissioners, what criteria do you
primarily rely on?
9. In your opinion, what changes, either at the department or the commission,
could make the parole process more efficient?

Parole Hearing Officer Follow-up Interview Questions
Conducted December 2 and 9, 2009; number of individuals interviewed: 6
1. Could you benefit from more assistance from the administrative staff? If yes,
in what way?
2. What training did you receive as a new hearing officer? Could you benefit
from additional training in interviewing skills, writing skills, or defense
training?
3. Do you have a copy of the Hearing Officer’s Desk Manual? If yes, is it
useful to you?
4. Do you think the timeline for report completion versus parole hearing dates
works well? If no, how could the current timeline be changed?
71

Office of Performance Evaluations

5. Please describe the support, guidance, or feedback you receive from your
supervisor(s)? Is there a process in place for you to raise concerns, make
complaints, or offer suggestions?
6. During our first round of interviews many people indicated that the
investigation and report writing process were the most time consuming tasks.
With that in mind, what suggestions do you have for increasing efficiencies
in the investigation and report writing process?

Administrative Staff Interview Questions
Conducted December 4, 2009; number of individuals interviewed: 9
1. Please describe your daily duties.
2. In what capacity do you assist parole hearing and revocation officers?
3. Has your workload increased as a result of losing administrative staff? If so,
how?
4. Do you have any suggestions for increasing efficiencies in the parole
process?
5. Is there a process in place for you to raise concerns, make complaints, or
offer suggestions?
6. How receptive do you feel management is to your concerns, complaints, or
suggestions?

Hearing Officer Supervisor Interview Questions
Conducted December 15, 2009; number of individuals interviewed: 1
1. Please describe your duties as the hearing officer supervisor. Do you have a
position description?
2. In a 40-hour work week, how do you generally divide your time (based on
responses to question 1)?
3. How do you monitor hearing officer workload?
4. Do you evaluate the performance of your staff? If so, what performance
measures do you use? How often are these evaluations conducted?

72

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

5. How do you summarize and report information about your staff to the
executive director?
6. What are your perceptions about the level of communication that generally
occurs between hearing officers and case managers?
7. How far in advance of parole hearings do you think officers should submit
their reports (less than one week, exactly one week, more than one week,
etc.)?
8. Do you, the executive director, or other commission staff review reports
before they are sent to the commissioners? If yes, who?
9. In addition to the training Rickey Forbus organizes, is there other training
that you or your staff could benefit from? If so, what?
10. Are there features you would like to see as part of the new CIS commission
module that could make the hearing officers’ investigations more efficient?
11. Is there a process in place for staff to raise concerns, make complaints, or
offer suggestions?
12. Is there a process in place for you to raise concerns, make complaints, or
offer suggestions?
13. In your opinion, what changes, either at the department or the commission,
could make the parole process more efficient?

Hearings Manager Interview Questions
Conducted December 15, 2009; number of individuals interviewed: 1
1. In a 40-hour work week, how do you generally divide your time?
2. Has your workload increased as a result of losing administrative staff
positions? If so, how?
3. Do you supervise staff (if no, skip to question 7)?
4. How do you monitor their workload?
5. Do you evaluate the performance of your staff? If so, what performance
measures do you use? How often are these evaluations conducted?
6. How do you summarize and report information about your staff to the
executive director?
73

Office of Performance Evaluations

7. Are there features you would like to see as part of the new CIS commission
module that could make the parole process more efficient?
8. How did the commission develop its requirements for CIS?
9. How involved were staff in the development of the commission’s
requirements?
10. What type of formalized training do you receive? What additional training
could you or your staff benefit from?
11. Is there a process in place for staff to raise concerns, make complaints, or
offer suggestions?
12. Is there a process in place for you to raise concerns, make complaints, or
offer suggestions?
13. In your opinion, what changes, either at the department or the commission,
could make the parole process more efficient?

74

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho’s Parole Process

Responses to the Evaluation

75

Office of Performance Evaluations

76

C. L. "BUTCH"

OTTER

GOVERNOR

February 17, 2010

Mr. Rakesh Mohan, Director
Office ofPerfonnance Evaluations
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ill 83720-0055
Dear Director Mohan,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Office ofPerfonnance Evaluations report entitled Increasing
Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process.
I appreciate acknowledgment ofthe hard-working staff at the Parole Commission and the Idaho Department of
Correction. Their efforts to evaluate risk, prepare inmates for release, and supervise offenders in the
community are essential to safeguarding the public against recidivist behavior.
It also is important to recognize that the parole commissioners spend countless hours reviewing and deliberating
pardon, commutation, parole release and revocation decisions. Every parole release decision carries the
potential for immediately impacting public safety. The gravity of their job is matched by the professional,
thorough and judicious manner in which their decisions are made.
As gubernatorial appointees, the commissioners are entrusted with making wise and just decisions. I therefore
reject the report's findings that seek to direct how infonnation is presented to them or the role ofthe director in
that process. They were not appointed because of a deficiency in decision-making ability, and they have my
full confidence to decide the best and most appropriate fonnat in which infonnation is presented to guide their
decisions.
Community Supervision represents the front lines of reintegrating offenders to the community. Idaho probation
and parole officers find themselves supervising ever-growing caseloads, and are meeting the challenge with
innovative leadership and management. The report's recommendations will be reviewed and considered while
the Department undertakes Zero Base Budgeting in the coming year.
This report has many recommendations to expedite the release of inmates as close to their parole eligibility date
as possible. While the timely release of inmates eligible for parole is important, using it as the only indicator of
. success of the parole process misrepresents the spirit and letter of the governing statutory directives.
Numerous factors contribute to inmates being incarcerated past their parole eligibility date. The amount of
available programming beds and the number of inmates arriving in the Department's custody after their parole
eligibility date are two of the many variables directly contributing to release delays. It also should be noted that
some inmates refuse programming and others, quite frankly, pose too great a risk to release.
STATE CAPITOL • BOISE, IDAHO

83720 • (208) 334-2100

Mr. Rakesh Mohan, Director
February 18, 2010

While these factors seemingly were mentioned in passing, the 33-percent increase in parole releases over the
past several years was largely overlooked. The significant increase in inmate releases is especially
commendable since the Commission has received no significant increase in resources and has been subjected to
holdbacks during that same period.
Increased communication between the Department and Commission is paying noticeable dividends in increased
release rates. Director Reinke and Director Craven worked hard to foster a better environment for
communication, and the product of that work can be seen in the success of Pathways and the Parole Violations
Matrix. Both tools, while still in their infancy, have produced tangible benefits. Still, both the Department and
Commission will work to continue improving communication and cooperation to further streamline the parole
process.
The report also looks to management for improved efficiencies in the parole process. It should be noted that my
budget recommendation breaks out the Commission's budget from the Department's to increase transparency.
At the same time, the Parole Commission will participate in a review by the Division of Human Resources and
undergo Zero Base Budgeting in the future. These exercises are designed to ensure limited staff resources are
allocated to match the priorities of the Commission.
I believe the report makes an unprecedented and troubling departure from evaluating the parole process to
passing judgment on management and staff personalities at the Commission. In my view, the unfortunate
deviation from the process undermines the findings of a report otherwise conducted in an objective and
professional manner.
Too often, we measure the successes or shortcomings of our parole process in dollars and cents. Parole in Idaho
is not a right, and parole decisions made because of potential fiscal impacts ignore the very real costs to Idaho's
communities from increased crime. In fact, the parole process utilized today was designed, in large measure, to
ensure release decisions are made free of any undue pressure and to ensure public safety.
The success of the process is measured not by the dollars saved or spent, but by the safety of the communities in
which we live. Staffs at the Department of Correction and Parole Commission dutifully perform their jobs with
little thanks or recognition. With a parole release rate among the highest in the nation and a recidivism rate
among the lowest, these dedicated professionals deserve our public praise now more than ever.

As Always - Idaho, "Esto Perpetua"

Cfd~~
CLO/jt

Page 2

C.L. "Butch" Otter
Governor of Idaho

IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION
"Protecting Idaho through Safety, Accountability, Partnerships,
and Opportunities for Offender Change"
C. L. "BUTCH" OTTER
Governor

BRENT D. REINKE
Director

February 17,2010

Mr. Rakesh Mohan, Director
Office of Performance Evaluations
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0055

Dear Director Mohan:
RE: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole
Process evaluation. The Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) Leadership Team has reviewed
the evaluation and recommendations. The report provides a broad overview of the parole process
in Idaho.
The IDOC response will focus on key areas where the combined efforts of IDOC and
Commission of Pardons and Parole (Commission) have reduced Idaho's inmate population,
created a better system, and key areas where OPE recommendations may assist in that next phase
of ongoing efforts to improve the parole process. We are not done refining the system, but
significant efforts have been made the past four years to improve the process and keep Idaho safe
while at the same time increasing paroles significantly.

COMMUNICATION
The IDOC appreciates the acknowledgement that communication between IDOC and the
Commission has improved significantly. The IDOC and the Commission have worked hard to
improve communication and streamline processes involving parole releases.
Two major efforts should be noted in joint efforts to increase paroles and improve the system.
The first is the Idaho Criminal Justice Commission (ICJC), established in 2005. The ICJC
continues to focus on system issues and has been one realm in which the Commission and the
IDOC have worked together to create a more developed systems approach through shared goals
and monthly meetings focused on the broader criminal justice system.
The other effort of note is the convening of the Innovator Workgroup on Offender Management
(IWOM) in August 2006. IWOM opened a healthy dialogue between the IDOC and the
Commission and served as a problem-solving group to address lingering issues delaying and
inhibiting parole. This group identified key process steps shared by the two agencies that could
be improved, resulting in increased paroles.

Mr. Rakesh Mohan
Page 2
February 17,2010
Improvements established as a result of IWOM:
• Enhanced the release function, increasing parole releases from an average 93 per month
in 2005 to the current average of 121 per month;
• Enhanced reentry services that are still in effect today;
o In fact, as this letter is drafted, one of the partnerships with Easter Seals opens a
new reentry center for co-occurring (mental health and substance abuse issues)
offenders with federal grant dollars to continue assisting with inmate releases.
• Provided direct training on issues where the IDOC and the Commission identified gaps in
knowledge; and,
• Prepared parole packets by the IDOC put all relevant information in one place to assist
with safe and timely parole releases.
The bottom line is more communication, more paroles, and better safety for the community.
TRAINING
The IDOC routinely attends Commission meetings and shares training opportunities. Education
and Treatment Chief Dr. Mary Perrien or Deputy Chief Shane Evans attends Commission
business meetings quarterly. In addition to providing updates to the Commission, Education and
Treatment leadership used this time to work with commissioners to develop and refine the new
treatment pathways approach to managing offender's assessed needs in anticipation of a timely
parole opportunity.
The agencies have shared joint trainings including the Education and Treatment Annual
Conference (ETAC). This year's ETAC Training was cancelled because of budget constraints
but will be reconvened as soon as funding is again available. Other recent trainings included sex
offender and mental health issues training. If any concern is raised regarding ongoing issues in
which an IDOC staff member has expertise, trainings are arranged at the Commission's
convemence.
As with any relationship, constant communication and updating of skills and processes is
required. The IDOC and Commission are planning a joint spring strategic planning session to
review progress on pathways and identify areas where further efficiencies in the process can
occur. The OPE evaluation recommendations will help guide some of the discussion areas.
DATA IMPROVEMENTS
The IDOC is currently in the process of implementing a new offender management system. The
Correctional Integrated System (CIS) . will provide more data tracking capabilities, assisting with
recommendations in chapter three of the report.
,

Once Phase 1 of CIS is implemented later this year, the IDOC will return to a structure in which
an end-user steering committee determines what further enhancements to the system are
required. While some of the OPE recommendations (such as Recommendation 3.7) are sound,
they would require extra personnel to review narratives and create a new tracking menu. Though
a sound suggestion, added staffing for this function is not currently feasible.

Mr. Rakesh Mohan
Page 3
February 17,2010
Data provided for this report was prior to the implementation of Pathways for Success. This
newly implemented offender treatment management structure provides the standardized entry
information suggested and is very beneficial to the process. As part of the Pathways for Success
implementation, IDOC will strive to enhance its' management analysis process to identify
continued systemic improvements.
HEARINGS AND PREPARING FOR PAROLE
The report suggests a staffing analysis and reallocation in Community Corrections Division
(CCD). Reallocation of resources is a routine business practice undertaken yearly in this
division. The CCD is also currently engaged in the zero-based budgeting process required by the
Division of Financial Management. We hope to coordinate, rather than duplicate the work of
reviewing staffing needs based on statutory requirements.

The IDOC worked with the Commission and courts to identify a violation matrix. This matrix
uses all resources available in the community to keep a probationer or parolee on track in the
community. Through the end of FY09, 231 probationers had been diverted from prison,
representing a cost avoidance of $5 million annually over the previous process.
The violation matrix is the first in several steps in refining processes to improve parole and
probation in Idaho. In partnership with the Commission, we are committed to a spring meeting to
continue this ongoing systems development.
.
THE ROLE OF PAROLE
Idaho's sentencing structure doesn't provide for release at the end of a determinate (fixed)
sentence; it provides for the possibility of parole for those deemed ready for safe release from
prison. The parole eligibility date is a time to check if an inmate is ready for release. The
inmate's actions help determine the results.

On its surface, sending inmates to parole on time seems easy, but when violators enter the system
past their eligibility date this is very difficult. About 15% of offenders entering prison are already
past their parole eligibility date.
The Correctional Alternative Placement Program is designed to catch these parole violators,
provide 90 days of treatment and put them back in the community after a treatment tune-up.
Short-cutting their prison stay will save money, and focused treatment will enhance community
safety.
The many recommendations in the OPE report are about continuing to improve a system that has
been evolving for years to higher efficiencie~. The system isn't standing still, we are committed
to continued improvements into the future.
CLOSING
In closing, I must again thank you and the entire staff in the Office of Performance Evaluations
for your professionalism throughout this process.

Mr. Rakesh Mohan
Page 4
February 17,2010
Parole is in many ways a very complex process, but in simplest terms, we rely on the
Commission to make the right and safe decision for Idaho, and for the IDOC parole officers in
communities to support parolees in adjusting to life in communities, and to send them back to
prison if they, in any way, endanger community safety.
Idaho's recidivism numbers are among the lowest in the nation. Idaho's continued parole success
indicates that the IDOC and the Commission are making safe and sound choices.
Sincerely,

BDR:tj

STATE OF IDAHO
COMMISSION OF PARDONS AND PAROLE

C.L. "BUTCH" OTTER
Governor

Olivia Craven
Executive Director

February 18,2010

Rakesh Mohan, Director
Office of Performance Evaluations
954 W. Jefferson Street
Boise, Idaho 83720-0055
RE:

Commission Response to Draft Report: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process

Dear Director Mohan:
Attached is the Commission's response to the Report: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process.
The Commissioners and management appreciate the time that your staff spent with our agency. We are
hopeful that our comments will assist in a good understanding to continue this process.

3125 SO. SHOSHONE ST. SUITE A P.O. BOX 83720 STATEHOUSE MAIL BOISE, IDAHO 83720-1807 (208)334-2520 FAX (208)334-3501

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER

Commission of Pardons and Parole

Response to Office of Performance Evaluations:
Prepared:
Prepared by:

I.

Increasing Efficiencies in
Idaho's Parole Process

February 17,2010
Executive Director and the Commissioners

Executive Summary:

The Unified Sentencing Act truly brought order to a sentencing system that few people understood. The
statute definitely allowed the offender who is sentenced, supporters of the offender, and victims a better
understanding of the time frame to be prepared for the initial parole hearing. This Act also made it possible
for the Commission to schedule the initial parole hearing to allow for preparation.
As noted in the report, the Commission attempts to schedule newly committed offenders for a parole
hearing six (6) months prior to their eligibility date. This was determined to be an appropriate time frame
so the offender could get into programming to address the issues that brought him to prison.
Of concern, is the dollar figure presented by OPE that indicates that " .... nearly $7 million in continued
offender management... " has been spent by offenders being incarcerated beyond the tentative parole date.
That is a very difficult number to quantify without explanation and understanding. The Commission
follows the research-based "What Works" process. Research shows us that if an offender has no
programming to gain tools to change during the incarceration period, there will be no change in the
offender - or the offender may learn even more criminality. Research shows us that evidence-based
assessments must be utilized to determine the risk factors. As noted in the report, assessments must be
quality-controlled and audited to make certain the assessment includes holistic factors regarding the
offender. Assessments are "tools" and do not provide the complete story about any offender. The
assessments must include the evaluation by persons who understand the assessments and look at the entire
case.
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If an offender is assigned to programming that is appropriate to his case, research tells us that
the offender must complete that program in its entirety. By the time the offender gets into the
programming, his program completion date could go beyond the tentative parole date or
parole eligibility date. The offender should not be taken out of his programming prior to
completion, merely to meet a "date". The Commission cannot control when an offender is
able to begin appropriate programming.
Information regarding "delays" in the offender being released will be listed later in this
response.
As OPE points out, it is critical that the Department of Correction and the Commission of
Pardons and Parole communicate and work together. The Commission meets quarterly (or
more often as needed) with mac's director and division chiefs, particularly the chief of
programs and community corrections. Commission management meets regularly with these
same administrators, including wardens and district managers. Staff meets with mac as
needed and will continue to do so. Both the staff of mac and the Commission communicate
continually as they are all dealing with the same population.
The Commission has long advocated that a staff member representing the Commission should
be at the Reception Diagnostic process and be part of the RDUlPathways to Success team in
setting appropriate programming. This link is currently missing. However, this will be a very
critical component to the Pathway treatment matrix process and success. The assessments
would be reviewed by mac and Commission staff; ifthere are any problems with the

Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010

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assessments, decisions can be dealt with at the initial process - not later when the offender is
already on a program path.
It is dangerous to put a dollar value to public safety. The Commission meets annually with
District Judges. The Judges always inquire ifthey are giving a sufficient fixed portion of the
sentence to allow for programming. The Commission has always assured the Judiciary that
offenders will not be released until their programming has been completed. The Commission
always looks at the commitment orders; the Judge's recommendations are made a part of the
hearing officer report.
+ Measuring the number of days an offender spends in prison past their tentative parole
date is a noteworthy measurement for financial purposes, and to constantly seek
improving organizational efficiency. It should never be a measurement of success in a
parole process. Other more appropriate measurements for parole success should be
considered, including, most importantly, public safety. Programming does not eliminate
the risk ofre-offending - it will only REDUCE the risk. The Commission deals with the
lives of people living in our own communities, including the offender, victims, and even
potential future victims.
+ Both moc and the Commission are constantly seeking the greatest level of efficiency
attainable within the human and fiscal resources provided.
The Commission grants parole to 65% of the offenders they hear, and are only bringing back
40% of the parolees on violations. They reinstate offenders and re-parole many others. There
is great savings in all ofthis and that was over-looked in this report.

The "outcomes" of our system were not significantly addressed: the Commission has a high parole grant
rate and a low return rate of parole violators. This cannot be ignored. Additionally, the report makes note
that hearings are conducted in a timely manner, and has not shown that releases to parole have been held up
due to any inefficiency in carrying out those tasks at the Commission.
The report describes moc as maximizing efficiencies and providing staff with tools to perform their duties
successfully, while stating that the Commission ".... is lacking policies andprocedures, sufficient guidance
for hearing officers and commissioners, and does not have an effective process in place to ensure
commission staffare treatedfairly." The Commission makes note that, while it is true the Commission
does not currently have its own personnel policies, the staff have been "in" moC's department and have
always utilized the personnel polices and grievance procedure outlined in those policies. The Commission
administration has made it clear that if problems cannot be resolved at the supervisor's level, the executive
director is available to review the issue. Staff has always known the Human Resource division ofIDOC is
our Human Resource division. Could there be improvements by having Commission specific policies and
procedures: ABSOLUTELYI However, staffing needs must be addressed to accomplish this.
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Communication between moc and Commission:

+ Pathways to Success Program:

As the report explains, this is a process designed to
provide a guide for offender programming. This Commission supports this concept; as
also noted in the report, this requires that assessments are quality-controlled and audited,
along with the person conducting the assessment being trained. Over twenty (20) years
ago, the Commission and IDOC created a "program track process", which was the same
type of process as Pathways, only truly simple in nature as we did not have good risk
assessments. This is mentioned here so the reader understands that the Commission has
always been a proponent of appropriate programming being provided to the offender.
However, until the current IDOC leadership, the "program tracking system" was not
implemented. The one component missing in the current Pathways to Success is the lack
of Commission involvement at the development phase in setting the programs for each
offender.
• The Pathways to Success treatment matrix will be reviewed in 7/2010 - the
Commission, staff, and moc management and staff will be involved.

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Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010
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The Commission believes that over time, studying this program and the criteria for
each matrix, will validate the matrix or show that modifications are necessary. With
any new process, all criteria to qualify for treatment and the treatment to be delivered
needs to be validated.
•
The Commissioners note they are pleased to follow the Pathways to Success
treatment matrix when they are convinced that each offender has a timely and
accurate assessment. There needs to be clear evidence that the offender's complete
history has been studied before assigning a Pathway treatment plan.
•
The Commission notes that they have wanted this type of process for a long time. It
is a new policy. It is not the end - it is a good means to an end point that is not
stationary. The right assessment, delivered and reviewed by a trained professional,
at the right time, is the key to making the treatment and parole preparation process
successful.
The Commission does not add "additional programming" that is not appropriate to the
individual case. The report indicates the Commission adds programming that is outside
of the programming ordered by moc. This certainly needs explanation.
• A Commission staff person at RDU when the initial program pathway is assigned,
would certainly add the current missing component. This is the point where
exceptions need to be made if the appropriate staff agree. Without the Commission's
perspective, which is based upon the offender's complete history, critical
programming needs may be missed. The Commissioners make release decisions that
no one else has to make. They take the responsibility of releasing an offender back
into the community and want to make certain the offender has all of the tools
available to address the problems that brought the offender to prison. No other entity
can give this perspective. As noted in the report, the Commission is committed to
public safety as their number one duty. Research shows that appropriate
programming reduces the risk of re-offending.
•
During the follow-up process of this OPE evaluation, the purported additional
programming should be studied. Without good documentation at this point, there is
no information to show how much "additional" programming is ordered by the
Commission at a parole hearing, nor are the reasons noted for this. The Commission
will begin this study so that good statistical information will be available for the next
Pathway's review.
•
The Commissioners noted that if they have ordered "additional" programming, their
decision has been based on information moc staff may not have had, such as
criminal history, mental health needs, etc. Other reasons include out-dated
assessments. The Commission is merely asking for the appropriate pathway
treatment program.
As previously noted, communication between moc and the Commission has improved
immensely. The Commission believes that a Commission staff member at the
RDUlPathways process will help in the communication equation.
At almost every hearing, the Commission discusses programming: past, completed,
current, and proposed. Most of this comes from the hearing officer report. The hearing
officer report has a lot of detailed information about the offender and the history,
including current information. The report was created with the Commissioners and
hearing officers. This is the Commission's "checklist" and part of the decision-making
process.

Commission Provide More Tools to Guide Parole Decisions
•

The Commission hearing officers do have a training manual, and it is currently being
updated. It should be noted that all positions within the Commission have a desk manual
assigned to the particular job title. Updating the manuals is a constant process.

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Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010
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Hearing officers are provided training and the 2010 training module has been completed,
to include interviewing techniques.
Hearing officers have been provided training in the main assessments utilized by moc:
LSI, TCD, Stat 99, etc. However, it appears from the report that staffhave indicated they
have not been adequately trained. This will be added to the training process for CY 2010.
Additionally, Commission staff has been provided training about programs within the
prison system; however, the report indicates Commission staff believe this has not been
adequate and will be addressed this calendar year.
The Commission does not disagree that staff needs to have "comprehensive, ongoing
guidance in completing their work".
Historically there has been annual training with case managers, hearing officers, and
parole officers. This training was not conducted last year, and the Commission
administration will work with moc to re-evaluate this type of process. There is no
doubt that case managers and parole officers need to understand what the hearing officers
do, and vice versa.
While it would be beneficial to have a training manual for the Commissioners, this has
not been done, due solely to staffing issues. When a Commissioner is appointed, he/she
is provided a packet of statutes that address the Commission's responsibilities. They are
also provided the Rules of the Commission; along with programming information
provided by moc, and copies of reports by the hearing officer so they will know what
they will be getting. The executive director spends time with a new Commissioner to
explain the history and processes. A new Commissioner is assigned to a Commissioner
with experience, and, if time allows, sits in as many hearings as possible before having to
give votes on cases. Could this be improved: absolutely! However, staffing is an issue
at the Commission. The Commissioners do not believe they are lacking in being
provided information and that the Commission has a high parole grant rate and a low
return rate of parole violators. The Commissioners work closely with the moc
Programs Chief and are provided training on all assessments and programs. Quarterly
meetings are usually conducted between these two entities.
•
The Commissioners take their charge as the releasing agent very seriously. They
spend numerous hours reading and studying the cases, so that they can make the
most informed decision possible. The Commissioners and executive director have
been involved with the Association of Paroling Authorities, International (APAI)
since 1985. There is no method to guarantee that offenders will be successful. The
Commission utilizes all available resources and have created the hearing officer
report to include the information they need to make decisions.
•
Commissioner Janie Dressen served on the Board of APAI for many years. The
executive director served on the Board in many positions, including as President.
This is noted solely for the reader to understand that the Idaho Commission of
Pardons and Parole has been involved with the best minds regarding national
standards on decision-making.

Technology:
•

The Commission has long been involved in working with moc regarding the CIS,
offender management system. In October, 2004, the Commission staff began working on
the Commission's module. Initially, nine (9) staff representing each area were involved.
Staff put in many hours, days, and weeks into this work - the Commission's module was
one of the fIrst completed. However, when the Project Manager left moc, all of the
work was lost. A one-day meeting on 5/29/09 was conducted with IT and Commission
staff: seven (7) key staff ofthe Commission were involved; the "key staff' were
individuals who must enter information, as they are the system users knowledgeable
about what information is captured and how it is processed. Other staff were not
involved at this stage, as they do not have the expertise that was needed at that meeting.

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Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010

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Pertinent Commission staff and managers continue to work with IT regarding the
Commission module. It is unfortunate that the initial information was lost and had to be
re-created. However, staff has done this, with the most time being spent by the hearings
manager, as she is the person most involved with entering data. Other staff will be
provided training once it is available. Management has to utilize available resources
without waste.
It is noted in the report that Commission staff need additional training in basic work
processing and data management. Since the draft report, Commission management has
discussed these issues with individual staff. No one has indicated they need additional
training, but this will be made mandatory to make certain staff maximize the use of the
data that is available. Commission maintains some important spreadsheets that will be
converted to allow reports to be produced.
It must not be excluded from the discussion that to incorporate more technology into the
Commission's work may include additional hardware, software, maintenance, and
coordination with IDOC and the Department of Administration. Most likely, the
Commission needs an IT person to enhance the use of technology and to improve the
integration ofIDOC's CIS module. Management must be mindful of current duties of
the staff and if additional duties can be assigned and still maintain a working level of
efficiency.

Working Environment
•

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•

The report recommends that the Commission not require the executive director to attend
parole hearings, as is the current practice. The Commissioners feel very strongly that this
report does not accurately represent the executive director's involvement with the
Commission and what she provides during the hearing process. The Commissioners note
that the only reason the executive director gives the decisions to the offender is to provide
consistency in the delivery, and that it is a very minor aspect of what she does at
hearings. Commissioners note that she is there to deal with questions that arise regarding
due process, special conditions of parole, administrative issues, and as a resource. The
Commissioners need to be spending their time on the parole hearings and decisions - not
dealing with administrative and legal issues. It should be noted that the Commission of
Pardons and Parole is no different than any board or commission who need their director
present at their meetings - the big difference is that parole hearings take up a lot of time.
The Commission needs administrative staff at the office to take care of issues in the
director's absence.
As previously explained, the Commission staff do have a formal grievance procedure and
are to follow IDOC personnel policies. However, management is working to bring the
additional informal process as a policy.
•
The Commission will be working with the Department of Human Resources to
conduct a full study of the Commission management and staff. It should also be
noted that the Commission has brought in Respectful Workforce training and has set
up quarterly training with Human Resources along this line.
OPE makes recommendations that the Commission develop its own policies and
procedures, but makes no recommendation as to providing staff to accomplish this. In
most organizations, there are specific staff assigned to oversee all rules and policies and
procedures, including the production of training manuals for staff and the Commission.
An additional staff member could be in charge of all staff training.
There are limits on what a small staff can accomplish. It is easy to make
recommendations if the individuals making those recommendations do not have to
provide the resources to accomplish them. The Commissioners believe strongly that they
can identify four (4) additional staff members to accomplish all of the recommendations
made in this report. It is frustrating to note that there were no recommendations for
additional staffing - only that the executive director should not attend hearings.

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Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010

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Rehabilitation Definition:
The Commission wants to recommend caution regarding
defming rehabilitation in statute. The Attorney General should certainly review any
recommendations in this area to avoid legal issues.

In reference to Exhibit E, the Commission did not understand why the years 2005 and 2007 were not
utilized. Additionally, while release issues should be studied, and are looked at by the Commission, the
reasons for delays were not included in this report - the reasons are many, and include:
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2.

Offenders refusing to program; they may refuse for a time and then decide to program later.
Offenders refusing to parole; they may refuse for a time and then decide to petition the
Commission to consider parole in their case.
Parole plan issues.
Parole violators who have had numerous hearings. They may return to prison with new
felony convictions.
Detainers filed by other jurisdictions; transportation issues with the detaining jurisdiction.
Program completion. Some offenders fail a program and have to wait a certain period of time
to start the program again.
Offender may have the program extended to completion date for various reasons.
Behavior issues after a parole grant.
Transportation issues.
Coming into the prison system eligible for parole.
Changes to the sentence calculation - being granted additional jail credits or a sentence being
modified, by the Courts.
Delays in receiving release information.
Waiting on additional information.
ICE deportation problems.
Delays due to problems with offender and funding for housing.
Some offenders have fixed sentences to complete aside from the commitment that parole can
be considered on. The computer will reflect that the release is "past" the PED, but the
offender could not be paroled before that time.
Delays in receiving requested mental health evaluations.
Parole plans change due to various reasons - home offer is pulled.
Not receiving Interstate bond timely.
New charges filed which impact the release.
Delay in receiving sex offender risk assessments or mental health evaluations that were
ordered by the Commission but not received for the hearing.

Chapter 1 - Introduction

The OPE staff observed hearings with the Commission at the minimum custody facility (SICI) for about
four (4) to six (6) hours; and observed hearings at the maximum security facility (IMSI) for a couple of
hours. The OPE staff did have lunch with the Commissioners at SICI. They also observed about seven (7)
hearings conducted by two (2) different hearing officers. The OPE Director and some staff attended the
Commission Business meeting in July 2009. No violation or revocation hearings were observed. OPE
staff could not be present during the deliberation process on each case, so it is understandable that they may
not have seen the vital discussions that are held by the Commissioners.

3.

Chapter 2 - Understanding the Parole Process
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Presentence Investigations for the Courts:
The Presentence Investigation report is a
report completed for District Judges once an offender has been convicted of a felony. The OPE

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Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010

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4.

report outlines what a Presentence Investigator (PSI) does, but did not give specifics about
caseloads, etc. In Ada County, each PSI does an average of 11.3 reports per month. There is no
manual for PSI's. The training is usually on-the-job training, supplemented by the new hires
attending 32 hours of the parole officer academy. If available, the new PSI's attend motivational
interviewing and verbal judo. OPE explains that the report is being revised. All standardized
reports, such as hearing officer reports, need to be looked at on a continuing basis and modified as
determined by the authority utilizing the report. Commission staff, with guidance from the
Commissioners, have been working on revisions to the manual.
Reception Diagnostic Unit (RDU):
OPE advises that moc's goal is to have all offenders
complete or at least have started 50% of assigned programming prior to a scheduled parole hearing
- this is a good goal to have, but one that is not always feasible. There are many things that may
have an influence on this not being done: behavior, not enough room in the program, moves,
medical or mental health concerns. The Commission does hear that offenders are often told they
should wait for the parole hearing and determine what programs the Commission orders. The
Commission is hopeful that the Pathways to Success will help resolve this issue. AND, if a
Commission staff member were at the RDU process, doubt would be removed regarding what
programs are appropriate for the offender. The team approach certainly would enhance the
Pathways process.
Parole Plan Issues:
The parole plan is a very important process and one that
should be initiated - or at least discussed - at the RDU process. Offenders should be planning for
their release upon commitment. Some offenders have very long sentences to serve, but planning
for a positive re-entry remains a key element to success. Currently, offenders may advise their
case manager of a parole plan; that parole plan changes when they meet with the hearing officer;
that plan changes at the Commission hearing stage; and there may be an entirely different parole
plan that is investigated before their release. There are offenders who do not have families or
friends to help them - transitional housing plays a very key role in these cases.
Staffing of the Commission:
Due to economic restraints and the holdbacks, the
Commission has left three (3) staff positions vacant; current staffis 28 with one (1) part-time
position.
• In FY 2009, the Commission did not fill the management assistant position.
• In FY 2010, a hearings tech and office specialist staffieft the Commission; the positions were
not filled initially. The hearings tech position was filled in 112010, but the office specialist
position remains vacant. (Both staffieft the Commission for jobs with moc for increased
salary.)
• A hearing officer retired 12/31109, and that position will remain vacant for the time being.
Commission Decision-Making:
Decisions are made on the individual merits of each
case. The Commission has established criteria for parole consideration, as the OPE report points
out, and such criteria is included in the hearing officer report template. The Commissioners utilize
all assessments used by moc, and supports research-based programming as providing tools for
change. Checklists and a cookie-cutter approach to public safety is not a good option - one size
does not fit all. The Commissioners spend a tremendous amount of preparation time before a
hearing session, so they have a good understanding of each case.

Chapter 3 - Preparing for the Parole Hearing

As noted in OPE's report, programming is key to getting offenders out who have parole release dates. The
Pathways to Success process, along with the Commission as part of the "team approach", will be a key
element for the future.
The Commission suggests absolute caution to adding a definition for rehabilitation. Our Deputy Attorney
General supports this caution. There is no current need to make modifications to a statute that has been
working well. The state needs to be careful in creating a right. While other states may have adopted such
definition, Idaho should proceed with due caution. The Attorney General may want to look at those other
state definitions.

7

Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010
The Commission maintains a different statistic than OPE used regarding offenders who enter the prison
system eligible for parole. By Commission hearing data, 21 - 25% of all new commitments are eligible for
parole at the time they reach RDU or within six (6) months of reaching RDU. The Commission's statistical
data includes offenders who were heard by the Commission and were either granted parole or were denied
parole. It is noted that OPE did not consider the offenders who were denied parole. However, those have
to be part of the equation. The parole denial might be based, in part, on not having been involved in
programming due to the time the offender actually reached RDU. At one point in the report, it is noted that
OPE staff used seven (7) months, rather than the six (6) months utilized by the Commission. The
Commission uses the six (6) month time frame, as offenders who enter the prison system eligible for
parole, will be heard by the Commission six (6) months from the date of their commitment, which
maintains consistency.
Regarding assessments utilized by mac, specifically the TCU (substance abuse assessment) and the LSI
(Level of Service Inventory), the executive director and Commissioners have noted inconsistency and
reliability problems with these assessments. The executive director reports this information monthly to the
mac staff person assigned to coordinate with the Commission, along with an explanation as to why the
assessment is in question. (These documents can be made available at any time.) The Commission does
believe having a representative at the RDU process would be cost effective as the assessments could be
adjusted if necessary and the team approach to setting the program plan would bring long-term benefits.
This person could also collaborate to develop offender plans with Commission expectations in mind. As
noted previously, Commission staff and mac staff do communicate while performing their duties.
The Commission supports the Pathways for Success process - acknowledging that the Commission and
It is hoped that offenders can complete their assigned
programming prior to the parole eligibility date if they are granted parole, which has always been a goal of
the Commission. The Commission has long supported programming efforts of mac. The Commission
has increased their parole grant rate, due, in large part, to the common efforts to place cognitive and
substance abuse programming in the prison system.

mac need to continually evaluate the process.

As previously noted, the hearing officer manual is being worked on. The closest comparison to a hearing
officer's job is a Presentence Investigator. There is no manual for PSI's, but hearing officers do have a
manual, as does every staff position at the Commission. These desk manuals are constantly being revised.
Due to staffmg issues, updates have to be done by the staff utilizing the manuals. Commission
management will continue working with staffto update the manuals so that they are user-friendly and
provide the support staff needs. Commission management researched the training records to determine
needs as noted in OPE's report: most hearing officers have received good training in interview techniques;
however, management has set a goal to have all hearing officers go through current interview techniques
training, verbal judo, etc. over the next year.
The hearing officers have a template which they should be using for their reports. According to the OPE
report, the interviews with hearing officers indicated that different hearing officers looked at different items
when making a recommendation to the Commission. Based upon information from OPE, Commission
management will be conducting training and going over the report and all of its various categories to make
certain hearing officers are addressing important issues for each case. It should be noted that the
Commission is very aware that no two offenders are the same - even if they are convicted of the same
crime. Therefore, management wants to make certain that hearing officers understand the importance of all
of the categories included in the report.
IDOC case managers and Commission hearing officers do need to communicate. Historically, the
Commission requested case managers to provide a summary of the offender's conduct while incarcerated.
With the computer system, the case managers receive notice of the offender's hearing with the hearing
officer; this is usually sent out approximately three (3) weeks before the scheduled hearing. At that time,
the case manager is to complete an entry into CIS about the offender. Case managers can attend any
hearing with the hearing officer or with the Commission. However, the Commission and staff are
conducting hearings almost daily, and the Commission has tried not to impose on the case manager's time.

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Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010
As a result, the computer entry was agreed upon by the Commission and mac. The Commission staff has
not been given the green light to ask IDOC case managers to change assessments.
The prisons' chief recently attended a training meeting with hearing officers to address problems. Specific
goals were set by both entities to make the process as smooth as possible for all concerned.

Recommendation 3.1
This recommendation was to include a defmition for rehabilitation in
statute. As previously noted, caution should be the key to this consideration, with the Attorney General
reviewing this to consider if it creates a right.
Recommendation 3.2:
This recommendation would require mac to amend their criteria to
move inmates from county jails, utilizing the parole eligibility date.
Recommendation 3.3:
This recommendation would direct mac to track exceptions to
Pathways. The Commission agrees that this should be done and be a joint effort with both entities.
Recommendation 3.4:
This recommendation is for the Commission to update hearing officer
manuals and use assessments in making their recommendations to the Commissioners. Commission
management is working on the updates to the manuals, will be updating training, and do already utilize the
assessments in the recommendation process. However, management will be evaluating the entire hearing
process.
Recommendation 3.5:
This recommendation is for the Commission to standardize the hearing
officer reports to provide the Commissioners with the most consistent information about each offender.
There is a template that should be utilized by hearing officers. It appears this may relate to some training
issues. The Commissioners have been involved in the past in creating the report template and management
will continue to work on this process.
Recommendation 3.6:
No Comment.
Recommendation 3.7:
No Comment.

5.

Chapter 4 - Conducting Hearings and Preparing for Release

The Commissioners order programming that is appropriate for the individual case. The Commissioners do
understand the assessments and are supportive of the Pathways to Success treatment matrix. It is key to
place a Commission staff at RDU so mac and the Commission agree on the appropriate program track.
The Commissioners look at all history of the offender, the institutional history, and the information from
victims. The Commission's perspective will be different from simply placing an offender into
programming. There has been a collaborative effort over the years with mac and the Commission to
bring evidence-based programming into the prison system.
The Commission is aware of guidelines utilized by other states, and has reviewed some of these
instruments. As noted, the hearing officer report encompasses the important categories research has
shown should be a part of the decision-making process. There are no risk assessments that are specific to
parole decision making.
The Commissioners are very aware that they can tour prisons, the RDU process, visit probation and parole
offices, ride with parole officers, etc. The Commissioners merely need to advise the executive director or
mac what they would like and they will be accommodated. However, due to the current fiscal crisis,
there are no resources to pay expenses for the Commissioners outside of the hearing process. Individual
Commissioners have visited programming and parole offices without compensation.
The National Institute of Corrections has provided New Parole Board training. Some of the
Commissioners have attended this. Some Commissioners have attended the APAI conferences. Again,
resources have not been available for two (2) years, and the Commission must perform the functions
required by law. The Commission has a high parole grant rate and a low return rate for violators. It seems
apparent that the Commission processes have not inhibited this trend.

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Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010

moc and the Commission did create a Miscellaneous File Review process to reconcile program
discrepancies. The moc contact meets with the Commission annually and is scheduled to meet with
Commission management monthly. Issues can usually be resolved quickly and do not always require the
three (3) month review time indicated in the report.

Most offenders are Released After Their Tentative Parole Date
As noted in the Executive Summary, there are many reasons for an offender being released after the
tentative parole date. Once the parole plan has been accepted, the process is a bit more complicated than
shown in the report:
~
The Commission maintains a tentative parole date log, which assists Commission staff in
monitoring offenders with parole release dates.
~ moc staff submits a packet of material required for parole release. Commission staff
reviews this packet of material:
+ Court commitment orders for the crimes the offender is to be paroled on are key
documents. The commitment orders are reviewed as a check to confIrm that the sentence
calculation is consistent with the order. It would eliminate a lot ofcopying if the
commitment orders could be scanned into the computer system.
+ Commission staff checks for any DOR's the offender might have received. This is not
submitted by moc staff with the packet.
+ Commission staff verifIes that the computer system has been updated to reflect program
completion. This is truly a joint effort between the Commission staff and moc staff:
there has been a great increase in cooperation, which has made for fewer delays in
releases.
+ Commission staff checks for any detainers by other jurisdictions that might have been
fIled since the parole decision was made. Ifthere are additional detainers fIled that the
Commission was not aware of at the time ofthe parole grant, the executive director will
review. If the detainer is for a felony, the information will be referred to the Commission
for review. If the detainer is for a misdemeanor crime, the executive director will
determine if it needs to be reviewed by the Commission.
+ Commission staff must check that victims have been notifIed of a release in a timely
manner.
+ Commission staff reviews the parole plan acceptance report to determine ifthe parole
officer made any directives that must be addressed before the release.
+ Commission staff has to check that funding is available for transitional housing.
~
Once all of the above is done, the Commission staff sets a release date within two (2) weeks.
(The above checks are completed upon receipt of the packet with no delays.)
~ The parole contract is prepared by Commission staff to include special conditions of parole
ordered by the Commission.
~
The parole contract is reviewed and signed by executive director.
~
Commission staff prepares the contracts for distribution.
As previously noted in the Executive Summary, it is very difficult to short-circuit practices that have been
established to prevent mistakes. moc staff and the Commission staff work together to address issues that
can cause delays in processing the offender back into the community. At least one-quarter ofthe offenders
are eligible for parole within six (6) months of their commitment. The Commission is very aware of the
costs of incarceration, and the two entities work toward meeting targeted release date. Many variables are
involved, including program space. Should "days beyond a tentative parole date" be a measurement of
success? Or should the low return rate due to good planning and programming be the measurement? The
Commission does seek the greatest level of effIciency attainable within the human and fIscal resources
provided.

Recommendation 4.1:
This recommendation is for a checklist to ensure that decisions are
based on specifIc, standardized criteria. With all due respect, the Commission has formally incorporated
the use of assessments into every hearing report. One of the problem areas is the sex offender risk

10

Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010
assessments. Due to IDOC staffing issues, the sex offender risk assessments are not usually available to the
hearing officer to incorporate into the hearing report. However, the Commission receives the assessments
and reports and utilizes those reports at the hearing. The Commissioners utilize established criteria which
is incorporated into the hearing officer reports.
Recommendation 4.2:
This recommendation is to provide a training manual and formal
training procedure for the Commissioners. While the Commission may not have a good manual to utilize,
much of the information that would be incorporated into such a manual is made available to the
Commissioners. The Commission management agrees that a manual would be beneficial. The lack of a
specific manual and training for the Commissioners is completely related to staff resources.
Recommendation 4.3:
This recommendation is for collaboration between the Commission and
moc to track the Pathways programming and any other programming ordered by the Commission. This is
a good recommendation and will be done. The Pathways for Success treatment matrix is new and will be
jointly reviewed.
Recommendation 4.4:
This recommendation is for program-related training between case
managers and hearing officers. As previously noted, there was annual training with case managers,
hearing officers, and parole officers. As resources are available, including training dollars, this will be
resumed.
Recommendation 4.5:
This recommendation can be combined with Recommendation 4.4.
Recommendation 4.6:
No comment is made other than parole planning should start at the
beginning while the offender is in RDU. While the parole plan may change, the concept that the offender
should be planning for a stable release should be the goal.
Recommendation 4.7:
No comment.

6.

Chapter 5 - Community Supervision

Offenders may not always be able to meet with the assigned parole officer within 24 hours oftheir release.
The offender is directed to check in with the office, but the assigned parole officer may not be available due
to their workloads. The offenders are given contact information at the time of the release and they are
aware of conditions of parole.
Case managers, hearing officers, and parole officers have no control over their assigned caseloads. The
system has to accept offenders that are in the system - this unpredictability makes it difficult to accurately
project staffing needs for everyone.
~ Parole officers conduct preliminary hearings only when the alleged parole violator is charged
with a technical violation. Alleged parole violators can waive their preliminary hearing and
most do. (In December 2009, 114 revocation hearings were scheduled; ofthose hearings,
only four (4) had Preliminary Hearings, or .04%) The Commission has added preliminary
hearing information to the monthly statistical information to be maintained.
~ The Commission's parole grant rate is 65%. Placing offenders on parole in the community
costs tax payers fewer dollars that would otherwise go to costs of incarceration. As a result of
more releases to parole, there has been an increase in violation hearings. It is difficult to
predict violation hearing caseloads. The Commission hearing officers must deal with the
reports of violation filed by parole officers.
The Violation Process
Idaho has established a violation process that has served the State well. To make certain that due process is
followed, the Commission, with advise from the Attorney General's office, created the current process.
While it might appear that Idaho has added additional steps, it does not mean that it costs more money to
maintain - in fact, it most likely saves tax-payer money by making certain the offender has hislher rights
protected. The following supplements the OPE report:
~

A report of violation is submitted by the parole officer.

11

Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010
~

~

~

~
~
~

If the violation is technical with no new felony or misdemeanor convictions, nor an accusation
that the alleged parole violator absconded supervision, a preliminary hearing must be
conducted within 48 hours, unless the hearing is waived. The alleged parole violator may
waive hislher right to such hearing and elect to proceed on with a violation hearing. The
preliminary hearing is conducted by a parole officer not involved with supervising the case,
and these hearings determine if there is probable cause to establish if the violations could have
occurred.
If a Commission Warrant is issued, a Commission hearing officer schedules a violation
hearing. The hearing officer travels to the area where the alleged parole violator is in custody
to allow the offender to have hislher witnesses or attorney present; it also allows for the parole
officer to be present. The hearing officer sits as an administrative judge and makes a finding
of guilt or innocence on each charged violation. This is an open hearing and witnesses and
victims may appear and testify.
The hearing officer prepares a report of findings, which describes the violations charged and
the fmdings on each violation. The hearing officer usually gives the decision at the end of the
hearing. However, statute allows for a decision to be given within twenty (20) days ofthe
hearing.
At any point in this process, the alleged parole violator may be considered for reinstatement placed back on parole.
Simply because an offender is arrested, does not mean that offender will go back to prison for
a long period of time.
Ifthe offender is referred to the Commission for a revocation hearing, the Commission's
decision is to determine if parole will be revoked, and if another parole will be granted. The
Commission simply could not conduct fact-fmding hearings required by due process in the
time they have available.

The Deputy Attorney General assigned to the Commission and moc has explained that this process is
consistent with existing federal and Idaho case law and statutes. It is not recommended that this process be
changed. To change the process could mean the alleged parole violator and parole officer may not have
time to prepare for the hearing.
moc created a violation matrix for probation violators, and the Commission requested that moc
community corrections create a matrix for parole violations. Both entities reviewed and agreed upon the
process. This matrix allows the parole officer to utilize sanctions before a final report of violation, and has
most likely saved additional parolees from going into custody.
Final revocation determination should not be a function ofmOC. Determinations to revoke probation or
parole have to be determined by the releasing authority. The executive director does not issue every
warrant. By rule, this function can be delegated to her designee. However, the executive director does
review the reports of violations that are submitted.
Credit for Parole Time:
Prior to 1998, if the Commission revoked the parole of an offender, all
of the parole time had to be added back onto the sentence. This is similar to probation revocations - if
probation is revoked, the offender is re-sentenced, in essence, "losing" the time on probation. The
Commission requested a change to this law, which was granted. The statute states: "Such person so
recommitted must serve out the sentence, and the time during which such prisoner was out on parole shall
not be deemed a part thereof; unless the commission, in its discretion, shall determine otherwise.... " In
2009, at a conservative rate of$35/day for incarceration costs, the Commission saved moc $5 million by
granting credit for those days on parole.

OPE reports that if reinstatement decisions had been made earlier in the violation process, this would have
saved $783,00 in continued offender management. This is a very dangerous statement to make. These
decisions are made appropriate to each case and the time frames involved. Making the decision to reinstate
a parolee is not merely a quick decision. Once violations have occurred, the Commission and staff have an
obligation to carefully review each case rather than simply making a quick decision. Often times, the

12

Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010
Commission decides to reinstate an offender as they have had time off drugs and alcohol that are usually
part of a violation. Reinstatement decisions and early discharges require the decision-makers to study each
case. The evaluators could have decided to study the costs saved by such a decision that did not involve
additional incarceration time, rather than the criticism that it should have been made earlier. What were the
dollars saved by no longer having to supervise the offender or by releasing the offender back to parole?

Recommendation 5.1:
Recommendation 5.2:

No comment.
This is a recommendation for the Attorney General to evaluate the
violation process. The Commission welcomes a review of these processes.

7.

Chapter 6 - Commission Operations

OPE staff point out that the Commission:
~
May be acting as an independent agency but is not "required" to comply with the same annual
reporting requirements of other agencies;
~
Relies on moc for policies and procedures; and
~
Does not have its own measurable goals - an approach that contradicts its independent role.
As the executive director pointed out to the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (IFAC) during the
Commission budget hearing, there are things that have been left undone - strategic planning and
measurable goals are just two (2) of these tasks. During the first hold-back, the management assistant
position had to be left vacant - this position was the position responsible for strategic planning, submitting
measurable goals, working on rules and policies. While it would be beneficial to have specific personnel
policies relating to the Commission, these truly have not inhibited the business of the Commission from
being conducted. Commission staff follows moc human resource policies and procedures; the
Commission has not been brought into the process of adopting policies with moc. This Committee needs
to be aware of the number ofstaffIDOC has and the number of staff the Commission has. With
appropriate staffmg, the Commission would be able to address each of the problem areas outlined in the
report.
As noted previously in this response, hearing officers and all staff will be directed to specific training that
addresses their needs for their specific job. Truly, there is no argument that all staff needs to be trained
appropriately. It has been determined that most training this year can be provided by moc. The training
plan for 2010 has been submitted to OPE, and there has been additional training added. Management has
submitted the dates of evaluations that have been conducted on each employee. Over the next year, the
critique as outlined in OPE's report will be addressed.
While it is correct that some staff positions have been left vacant due to the economy, this was done to
support staff, not hurt them. Commission management did everything possible to avoid furloughs for staff
- until now, Commission staff did not have to take days off without pay. Management decisions will
always be criticized, but not one decision was made without a lot of deliberation of the affects on staff and
the Commissioners. Management has compiled a list of each "additional tasks" assigned to staff, and will
continue to review these tasks and staff's ability to perform them. As the economy has not shown a
recovery, management will continue to review tasks that might be eliminated or changed to reduce the
effect on staff. Every director has had to deal with how to maintain services while supporting employees.
Caseload Study
The Commission commissioned a caseload study for hearing officers. The
Voorhis Report did not complete this process, and the evaluator wanted to conduct additional studies. The
Commission does not have the money for additional evaluation and will most likely ask one of our
universities to conduct this study, hopefully at no cost! The reason the study was commissioned was to
determine what a caseload for a hearing officer should be, taking into account vacation and sick leave;
violation cases vs. regular parole hearings; different types of crimes; etc. The report did not give the

13

Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010
information that the Commission required - the report indicates that some time frames reported were
somewhat inflated. There are current processes in place to distribute the caseloads:
~
Hearing officers are assigned to a particular institution and work centers, and this is looked at
annually to make changes as needed;
~ Hearing officers conduct hearings on all types of crimes; this evens itself out over time, as all
hearing officers do hearings and reports on all crimes.
Hearing officers maintain statistics on their workloads which management utilizes to review the
distribution. OPE recommended a desk audit be completed, which the Commission was hopeful they
would get in the above noted study. It is important to management that hearing officers' caseloads are
distributed evenly and fairly. Management does not disagree that it is important to study hearing officer
caseloads - the study was requested for this very purpose.
Staff Workloads:
The Commission cannot cancel or postpone hearings or releases - management
had to make decisions that may not be popular ones. Management is conducting meetings with all staff in
order to manage the workloads with vacant positions that may not be filled for some time. Additionally,
staff will be taking furlough days. It has been a "shell game" to maintain services. If staff is out on
furloughs, the work cannot be done. However, management will be reviewing each task with the
employees.
Staff Concerns:
The Commission will be working with the Department of Human Resources to
conduct a full study ofthe Commission management and staff.
Technolol!V:
As explained in the Executive Summary, pertinent Commission staff has been involved
with moc's IT division regarding the CIS system. Staff does have access to all current modules in the
offender and CIS system. As previously noted, there is no data in the Commission module to be able to
show staff nor to train them. Staff has been notified of this information. A statement in this report
"During our analysis, we observed several instances where data in the commission's text tables did not
tally with its own annual statistics." As there is nothing specific noted, it is unknown what this refers to.
It would be helpful to receive the specifics so that this could be addressed. Management asked for
specifics regarding the technological shortcomings OPE brought forth in November, but the information
was never provided.

Recommendation 6.1:
This recommendation is to study making the Commission a state
agency to ensure its independence in making parole decisions. The Commission does not disagree with the
recommendation.
Recommendation 6.2:
This recommendation is to adopt Commission specific policies and
procedures. The Commission does not disagree with the recommendation. However, current staffmg does
not support this.
Recommendation 6.3
This recommendation is for the Commission to provide measurable
goals. The Commission does not disagree with the recommendation. However, current staffmg does not
support this.
Recommendation 6.4:
This recommendation is to follow up on the 2008 consultant study to
review workload issues. The hearing officer supervisor has been working on this information.
Recommendation 6.5:
This recommendation is for the hearing officer supervisor to review
workloads of hearing officers and to analyze the information maintained by hearing officers. The
Commission currently maintains the information it has determined is important. However, there can
always be improvements and the Commission management will be reviewing the information currently
maintained and determine any additional critiques.
Recommendation 6.6:
This recommendation is for the hearing officer supervisor to identify
ways to assist the hearing officers. The hearing supervisor will be able to spend additional time with the
hearing officer process once the budget duties have been re-assigned.
Recommendation 6.7:
This recommendation is to review distribution of new duties. This has
been an on-going process through the hold-backs. As the economy is not rebounding, management is
evaluating every task.

14

Commission of Pardons and Parole
Response: Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process
Prepared: February 17,2010
Recommendation 6.8:
This recommendation is for the Commission to maximize technology.
The Commission management will continue to work with moc's IT division to provide the most up-todate training regarding the computer system and use of data management.
Recommendation 6.9
This recommendation is for the Commissioners to not require the
executive director to spend so much time at parole hearings. The Commissioners disagree with this
recommendation. Boards and Commissions must be able to make decisions of the duties of their director,
as well as the Governor.
Recommendation 6.10: This recommendation is to provide staff with a formal mechanism to
raise concerns, improving the working relationship between staff and management. While Commission
staff does have the formal policies and procedures of moc, the Commission has always had an informal
process in addition to the problem-solving and grievance process through Human Resources. A new policy
has been drafted to specifically address the additional informal process. The new policy will be given to
staff and training provided once it has been approved by Human Resources.

The Commission and management appreciate the time that the Office of Performance Evaluations spent
with the agency. All information in this report will be utilized and studied. It is not easy for an outside
agency to quickly study another agency. We are hopeful that our comments will assist in a good
understanding to continue this process.

15

Office of Performance Evaluations Reports, 2008–Present
Publication numbers ending with “F” are follow-up reports of previous evaluations. Publication numbers ending with
three letters are federal mandate reviews—the letters indicate the legislative committee that requested the report.

Pub. #

Report Title

Date Released

08-01

Governance of Information Technology and Public Safety
Communications

March 2008

08-02F

State Substance Abuse Treatment Efforts

March 2008

08-03F

Virtual School Operations

March 2008

09-01

Public Education Funding in Idaho

January 2009

09-02F

Higher Education Residency Requirements

January 2009

09-03

Idaho Transportation Department Performance Audit

January 2009

09-04

Feasibility of School District Services Consolidation

February 2009

09-05F

School District Administration and Oversight

February 2009

09-06F

Use of Average Daily Attendance in Public Education Funding

February 2009

09-07F

Child Welfare Caseload Management

February 2009

09-08F

Public Education Technology Initiatives

February 2009

09-09F

Management in the Department of Health and Welfare

09-10F

Governance of Information Technology and Public Safety
Communications

10-01

Operational Efficiencies in Idaho’s Prison System

January 2010

10-02

Increasing Efficiencies in Idaho's Parole Process

February 2010

March 2009
April 2009

Reports are available from the OPE Web site at www.idaho.gov/ope/
Office of Performance Evaluations • P.O. Box 83720 • Boise, ID 83720-0055
Phone: (208) 332-1470 • Fax: (208) 332-1471

 

 

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