A Colorado audit looking at a jump in early paroles found record-keeping problems that make it nearly impossible to track how well Parole Board members make decisions on discretionary releases, reports the Denver Post. An all-paper system has left authorities guessing at how good their judgment is, how consistent they are in granting parole, and why the rate at which inmates receive early release has inched upward since 2005. Members rarely get feedback on whether the few thousand prisoners released early each year reoffend.
The three agencies involved in the parole process pledged to install by July an electronic system to produce those statistics. “We’ll get accurate data on each individual who’s doing hearings,” said chairman David Michaud. “If somebody begins seeing a high number of repeat offenders, the question is ‘What am I missing?’ ” The tracking deficits came to light during an audit prompted by Republican lawmakers concerned about a 35 percent increase in the number of early releases between 2006 and 2007. Auditors said policy changes – such as lessening the seriousness of some drug crimes – may have led to the rise.