Federal Parole Practices

Better Management and Legislative Changes Are Needed Gao ID: GGD-82-1 July 16, 1982

GAO reviewed the operations of the U.S. Parole Commission, an independent agency with parole jurisdiction over all eligible federal prisoners and paroled offenders.

Although some progress has been made in the parole decisionmaking process since 1976 when legislation establishing the Parole Commission was passed, major improvements are still needed. GAO found that the guidelines used by hearing examiners are not clear enough and that the Commission has no program for training the examiners in their use. The lack of clarity in the guidelines was a factor in numerous inaccurate parole decisions. GAO believes that, although the Commission can take some action on its own to improve its operations, other improvements require legislative action. For example, there is a need to eliminate several legislative requirements for certain activities that are not productive, such as the regional appeals process and interim hearings on the parole status of offenders. In formulating parole decisions, the Commission is very dependent upon information provided by others, including U.S. Attorneys, judges, probation officers, and prison staff. The completeness and accuracy of this information is critical if the Commission is to make equitable parole decisions; however, the Commission often does not get sufficient information to properly apply its parole release guidelines. GAO found that major changes need to be made to the procedures followed in supervising paroled offenders.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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