Structured Decision Making Framework (SDMF) Initiative


CEPP is providing training and technical assistance to three paroling authorities to support the implementation of the Structured Decision Making Framework (SDMF), developed on behalf of the National Institute of Corrections. The SDMF provides paroling authorities with a structured roadmap for reaching evidence-based, consistent, and transparent release decisions. 

Our Approach

CEPP is partnering with three states (Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio) to implement the SDMF. The SDMF was designed to help parole boards increase the accuracy, consistency, and transparency of their parole release decisions. While all boards share similarities in terms of their function, individual circumstances (staff support, available information, statutory and regulatory considerations) can vary widely. CEPP is working with participating states to tailor implementation activities to meet their individual needs.  

The project will be conducted in four phases over the course of 2021. 

  • During Phase I, CEPP will conduct a readiness assessment, which will consist of interviews with all members of each paroling authority and leaders from correctional and supervision agencies to ensure that the jurisdiction is well prepared to move forward with implementation work. 
  • In Phase 2, CEPP will work with paroling authorities to identify supports for and potential barriers to implementing the SDMF.  
  • During Phase 3, CEPP will design and deliver site-specific training for parole board members, corrections staff, and other key stakeholders on the research supporting the SDMF, the benefits that can accrue from its use, and strategies for implementation and measuring performance. 
  • In the final phase of the project, CEPP will actively coach the participating sites on the use of the SDMF to provide guidance and quality assurance during the initial implementation.  

CEPP will lead the three paroling authorities participating in this effort to implement the SDMF by the end of 2021.

The Impact

One of the core functions of paroling authorities is to determine the suitability of a person for release on parole. Each year, parole boards across the country make the decision to grant or deny parole for hundreds of thousands of people. Determinations about whether to grant or deny parole comes with considerable pressure. Parole boards are not only responsible for making decisions that protect the safety of their communities but are also subject to substantial public and government scrutiny about how those decisions are reached. The Structured Decision-Making Framework (SDMF)—a standardized approach to parole decision-making grounded in evidence-based practice—will likely contribute significantly to high-quality and consistent parole decision-making.

As a result of their participation in this project, parole boards in Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio will increase their ability to consistently focus their release decision-making efforts on key risk-related factors, improve their decision-making outcomes, and measure the impact of their practices. Taken together, these changes will support the states’ efforts to improve the quality of their parole release decisions while also increasing the transparency of their actions. All of these beneficial outcomes can have a significant impact on individual cases, the broader correctional landscape, and the well-being of the community.