Structured Decision Making Framework (SDMF) Initiative


CEPP provided 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 (NIC). The SDMF is a standardized approach to parole decision making that provides paroling authorities with a structured roadmap for reaching evidence-based, consistent, and transparent release decisions. 

Our Approach

CEPP partnered with NIC to assist three states (Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio) with their implementation of the SDMF. The SDMF was designed to help parole boards apply risk-based considerations and increase consistency and transparency in their parole release decisions. CEPP has a substantial history of working with parole boards in participating states to tailor implementation activities to meet their individual needs.

CEPP’s work included:

  • Conducting readiness assessments, which consisted of interviews with all members of each paroling authority and leaders from correctional and supervision agencies to ensure jurisdictions were well prepared to move forward with implementation work
  • Working with paroling authorities to identify supports for and potential barriers to implementing the SDMF
  • Designing and delivering 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
  • Coaching participating sites on using the SDMF—providing guidance and quality assurance during the implementation

The Impact

One of the core functions of paroling authorities is to determine a person’s suitability for release on parole. Each year, parole boards across the country decide 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 SDMF can significantly contribute to high-quality and consistent parole decision making.

As a result of their participation in this project, parole boards in Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio increased 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 supported their efforts to improve the quality of their parole release decisions while also increasing the transparency of their actions. These beneficial outcomes significantly impact individual cases, the broader correctional landscape, and the community’s well-being.