Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CDCR Investigation Finds that District Parole Administrator Inappropriately Altered Parolee Discharge Recommendations

Takes corrective action immediately
SACRAMENTO – An internal investigation by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has found that a district parole administrator inappropriately altered reports made by agents and unit supervisors to recommend the discharge of parolees from state supervision. This action was a violation of CDCR protocol and possibly state law.

“We launched an internal audit and took preliminary corrective action as soon as suspicion was raised over whether parole protocols were being followed. The audit identified a problem in one of the department’s 25 districts,” said Scott Kernan, Chief Deputy Secretary of Adult Operations for CDCR. “We are now taking steps to determine if this incident is isolated.”

CDCR reassigned the district parole administrator under review and removed his authority over unit discharge recommendations while CDCR’s Office of Internal Affairs conducts an investigation. The administrator oversaw a district covering six parole units in Northern California.

The preliminary audit revealed a number of instances where unit supervisors’ decision boxes on parole activity reports were altered with whiteout by the district parole administrator. In some cases a parolee’s agent and unit supervisor filed recommendations to “retain” the parolee, though the district parole administrator under review altered the activity report to change their recommendations to “discharge.”

While district administrators have the authority to make decisions to retain or discharge parolees, altering recommendations by subordinate staff is inconsistent with departmental protocols and may be a violation of state law.

“We take public safety extremely seriously, and expect our district administrators to use sound public safety judgment in thousands of parole decisions each month,” said Kernan. “We will continue this investigation to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Using district administrators to evaluate subordinate staff discharge recommendations is a critical element that helps ensure consistent decision making throughout the corrections and rehabilitation system. Review by supervisors is consistent with law enforcement practices throughout the nation. CDCR also has a review process in place to allow the four regional parole administrators to sample a percentage of cases from each the 25 district offices to ensure that consistent decisions are made.

All of the cases included in the audit were immediately reevaluated by parole administrators following the district parole administrator’s breach of protocol. In some instances parole administrators recommended different decisions, resulting in parolees being recommended to be retained on parole. Those cases were referred to the Board of Parole Hearings for retain consideration. In instances where offenders have been legally discharged from parole, modifications to previous decisions cannot be made.