A little discretion can be a good thing, especially when it comes in making decisions involving human beings. But it appears from a recent audit that New Hampshire’s Adult Parole Board is letting too much “personal preference” take the place of fact-based criteria in some of its actions. That is not a good thing for the health and safety of our citizens.
The Legislative Budget audit’s assessment was candid and concerning. “We found the board did not always have complete information necessary to consider each criteria ... required by its rules, and could not make a determination of the reasonable probability the inmate would not violate the law while on parole.”
It is precisely the “reasonable probability’’ that an inmate will or will not violate the law that must be the overriding concern for the parole board. The audit showed instances and issues when that hasn’t been the case.
One inmate with a violent past was paroled without the board discussing the details of that past. He had been convicted of kidnapping (and accused of rape and torture) and had done so while ON PAROLE.
But the parole board let him out again, whereupon he was charged with killing an ex-fiancee.
The audit said that time and again the parole board had failed to review a parolee’s full record, including disciplinary history while in prison, or whether an assessment of the chances of returning to prison had been done.
Once out on parole, the treatment was also less than equal. One sex offender, required to check in with his parole officer monthly, had gone a full year without doing so. Do citizens and lawmakers really want to allow sex offenders and rapists back on the streets without so much as a standard plan of checking up on them?
Parole Board chair Donna Sytek said some of the problems are a lack of adequate staffing.
Having all the criteria needed for the board to make the best-informed decisions takes resources, she said.
In that case, Sytek needs to make her case to the governor and legislature. Mistakes here can cost lives.