Friday, February 12, 2010

SBX3 18: Parole Reform

A recent CDCR press release reports that the implementation of SBX3 18, the compromised, watered-down version of Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal for population reduction, is well under way. As you may recall, the original plan was approved by the Senate but gutted by the Assembly. For your reference, here is the full text of the bill. The press release focuses on implementing changes in parole, focusing on the following reforms:

Reforms required by SBX3 18
  • Two-tier parole system, with less parole supervision on parolees deemed as low risks.
  • Drug and mental health reentry courts for parole violators.
  • Usage of the PVDMI risk-assessment instrument (the pilot precedes the bill). Here' s some history about the instrument's origins. Apparently, it was developed for CDCR and tested by Susan Turner and other researchers at UC Irvine. Replicating work done in Washington State, it is an actuarial tool examining recidivism, and its predictive qualities are based on recidivism information in 103,000 cases from 2002/2003. The database predicts reoffending based on information about arrests, case disposition, demographics, and other risk factors.
In addition, the press release specifies caseload reduction for parole officers, by hiring new officers and changing some job definitions. It also explicitly states the intention to supervise parolees focusing "on a parolees successful transition into the community rather than how many times they are revoked."

Given the recent discussion in Valdivia, I'm unclear on whether these improvements would apply retroactively to people who are already on parole. My sense is that they would. After all, it doesn't make much sense to keep low risk parolees under close supervision when the idea is to eliminate costs. Plus, supposedly parolees (as well as the system as a whole) would be benefiting from these changes.

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