Audit Finds Parole Board Not Properly Administering Collection of Supervision Fees

BOSTON, MA —State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released the results of an audit of the Massachusetts Parole Board, which found that the board did not properly administer and collect parole supervision fees, and did not perform supervision-level reassessments in required timeframes.

“Parole offers individuals convicted of a crime the opportunity to reenter and become productive members of society. When fees are collected inconsistently, as was found by this audit, it creates confusion and ultimately is a disservice to those seeking to reenter society,” Bump said. “If the agency finds that a required manner of collecting fees is not realistic for the situation, the answer is not to ignore the regulations in place, but rather to make improvements to those regulations to support successful reentry.”

Parole supervision fees are assessed on parolees to offset the costs of their supervision. The audit sampled parolee’s records and found that 63 percent of the sampled individuals did not pay their total required supervision fees, and the majority of these individuals paid no fees at all. In total, 24 percent of supervision fees were uncollected in fiscal year 2015. These fees can be waived if undue financial hardship can be documented.

The Board noted that they will work with supervisory staff to emphasize the collection of fees and encourage them to submit a waiver or reduction request as early in the parolee’s term as possible. In addition, they will examine if it is appropriate to waive fees for an initial period of time for all new parolees.

An audit released by Bump’s office earlier this year found similar problems in the administration of probation supervision fees by Massachusetts courts. Parole supervision fees are assessed to individuals conditionally released from prison to serve the remaining portion of their sentence in the community, while probation supervision fees are assessed to individuals supervised in the community, generally in lieu of incarceration.

The audit also found that field parole officers do not perform supervision-level reassessments within required timeframes. Parolees are reassessed periodically to determine if changes to their current supervision levels are needed. The audit recommends that the Board implement protocols to remind officers of reassessments that are needed in order to ensure compliance with time requirements. The Board indicated they are taking steps to address this finding.

Finally, the audit found the Board properly administered polygraph tests to all Sex Offender Registry Board offenders every six months, and conducts follow-up drug tests within required timeframes for parolees who have tested positive previously.

The Massachusetts Parole Board, which is an agency within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, supervises parolees and makes recommendation to the Governor regarding pardons and commutations of sentences. The audit examined the period of July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015.

The audit is attached.