Parole Board Biases and Decision-Making

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Jennifer Witt Ebony Ruhland


By Jennifer Witt, Criminal Justice

Advisor: Ebony Ruhland

Presentation ID: PM_A30

Abstract: The Parole Board bears a tremendous responsibility with respect to "who" they decide to release into society. Although standardized risk assessment tools are readily available, not all parole boards utilize them to their fullest extent and their decisions are not bound by them. The concern is that there is inconsistencies among parole boards and that there may be bias demonstrated by individuals on the parole board. It is important to investigate the factors that contribute to parole board members' decision-making. The first aim of this research is to figure out which factors the parole board members use to determine if an offender should be released. The second aim is to discover if individual parole board members display any type of biases when coming to these decisions. Sixteen parole board members were interviewed in two different states. These participants represent the full parole board in these two states. Standardized, structured interviews lasted between 30 and 60 minutes, and data were analyzed for trends in themes across participant responses.

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PM Poster Session -- Great Hall -- A: Social Justice & Social Well-Being