The agency responsible for keeping the public safe, the Division of Probation and Parole: Offender Supervision has some flaws according to an audit released Monday by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
"Of the 71,000 offenders that we have, is our Probation and Parole Office properly supervising these individuals," asked state auditor Daryl Purpera.
The audit found there are no updated recidivism rates for Probation and Parole. The audit says recidivism is the main indicator of whether an offender supervision program is working, but when it comes to Louisiana, the last recorded numbers date back to 2006. In a three-year period, Purpera said they found 14% of offenders were circling back to crime and within a five-year period, 21% had returned.
"So then the question becomes, is that good numbers or bad numbers, and we simply found the department does not have those benchmarks to determine, or to be able to prove that they are effectively managing these offenders," said Purpera.
Once any offender is placed in Probation and Parole, officers are required to conduct a risk assessment within 60-90 days. It's basically an evaluation to determine the best plan for rehabilitation or supervision. In the case of sex offenders (22%) and non-sex offenders (48%), those assessments were delayed. So were personal meetings between the officer and offender.
"One of their primary ways that they supervise is through personal contacts, and they're supposed to conduct those in accordance with the prepared plans that they have. What we found was that they're not conducting all those contacts," said Purpera.
The audit also found officers failed to write up comprehensive summaries after visiting their offenders and regional administrators not auditing their district offices twice a year like required.
"Basically, all levels of supervision weren't carrying out their functions properly to ensure this program was being operated to the best of its ability," said Purpera.
No one from the Department of Probation and Parole was available for an on-camera interview. Instead, they issued WAFB a statement: "A majority of the recommendations in the audit relate to issues that the Department is already working on solutions for and that largely involves a new offender management system."