Colorado’s Board of Parole granted early releases to 2,800 inmates last year, but nobody is tracking how well they do – or even if they succeed at all – once they are back on the streets, said a state audit reported by the Rocky Mountain News. Because the board does not collect data on the outcomes of its decisions, officials “cannot ensure that offender transitions back into the community are likely to be successful,” said Jennifer Harmon, a legislative auditor.
The number of inmates granted “discretionary parole” has grown in each of the last three fiscal years – up 40 percent since 2006. The audit was ordered after legislators raised questions about why discretionary paroles were increasing and whether parole figures were consistent and accurate. Mandatory paroles, which occur when an inmate has served his full sentence, still make up the majority of paroles – 65 percent since fiscal year 2004. When inmates request discretionary parole, they usually are denied. The prison population has increased 18 percent in four years. At the same time, a state law reduced sentences for the use of certain drugs from four years to two, making more offenders eligible for parole.