Back to top

Probation

The issue of “offender-funded” probation services is an under-reported and often unknown element of the criminal justice system in the United States. This report is essential reading for anyone interested in the current state of corrections. “Every year US courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation and place them under the supervision of private, for-profit probation companies. These companies charge courts nothing for their services. Instead, they charge those they supervise a range of fees that sometimes become exorbitant—often with minimal judicial or government supervision of how they treat probationers or how much money they collect from them in fees … [This publication] details widespread patterns of abuse and economic hardship that flow directly from the probation industry’s “offender-funded” business model. It describes how many courts let probation companies act as heavy-handed debt collectors while forcing the poorest offenders to pay steep costs for their services. Many of those affected are guilty only of minor traffic offenses and would not be on probation at all if they had the money to pay their fines immediately” (xxx). Seven sections follow and executive summary including recommendations to state governments, courts and local governments, and probation companies: background—why privatizing probation services; overview of the private probation industry—the ‘offender-funded” business model, scale and economics of the industry, and the major players (i.e., Judicial Correction Services and Sentinel Offender Services); probation fees, financial hardship, and the poor—supervision fees, the crushing costs of other probation company fees and services, drug testing, and “moral recognition therapy” and other services; ignoring offenders’ inability to pay; “I hope you have money”—abusive collection tactics—threats of incarceration, jailing offenders to induce payment, and hidden costs to the public; where responsibility lies—companies, courts, and governments—little oversight and unfettered company discretion; and human rights norms and “offender-funded” probation.

Profiting from Probation: America’s “Offender-Funded” Probation Industry Cover

Access to eight fact sheets “on topics related to crime victims and victims’ needs throughout the community corrections process” is provided. Topics covered are: The Role of Community Corrections in Victim Services; Collaboration and Partnership for Victim Services in Community Corrections; Family Violence; Restitution and Other Legal Financial Obligations; Seeking Victim Input; Victim Information and Notification; Victim/Offender Programs; and Workplace Violence.

Promising Victim Related Practices in Probation and Parole Fact Sheet Series Cover

In order to ensure that limited jail and prison beds are maintained for high-risk offenders while lower-risk offenders are placed in more effective and cheaper options, the Louisiana legislature passed a law that limits the incarceration time of first-time probation or parole violators to 90 days. "Louisiana’s 90-day revocation limit has: Reduced the average length of incarceration for first-time technical revocations in Louisiana by 281 days, or 9.2 months; Maintained public safety, with returns to custody for new crimes declining from 7.9 percent to 6.2 percent, a 22 percent decrease; Resulted in a net savings of approximately 2,034 jail and prison beds a year; Saved taxpayers an average of $17.6 million in annual corrections costs" (p. 1)

Reducing Incarceration for Technical Violations in Louisiana: Evaluation of Revocation Cap Shows Cost Savings, Less Crime Cover

"This policy brief offers fodder for the state’s Justice Reinvestment leaders as they contemplate the changes necessary to increase the system’s focus on recidivism reduction and achieve results" (p. 2). Sections of this brief cover: key findings; the high cost of recidivism in Massachusetts-- incentive to reform, post-release supervision, step downs, and sentence length; evidence-based reentry strategies—post-release supervision, transitional housing, employment services, substance abuse and mental health, and multiservice reentry; collateral sanctions and criminal records in Massachusetts; how much reentry programs can reduce recidivism; conditions of confinement and recidivism risk; state reentry efforts—comprehensive reentry models (in Minnesota, Michigan, and Maryland), and funding reentry initiatives (justice reinvestment in Arkansas, Hawaii, South Dakota, and pay-for-success financing—California, Massachusetts, New York, and Oklahoma); justice reinvestment and effective supervision; and a five-part reentry plan for reducing recidivism in Massachusetts.

Reducing Recidivism in Massachusetts with a Comprehensive Strategy Cover

“This article is about the relationship between recidivism rates and supervision skills used by probation officers (or others who supervise offenders on community-based orders or parole). It focuses on routine day-to-day supervision rather than on intensive supervision programs or other specialized programs or interventions.” Issues discussed include: the impact of probation officer skills; and skills or practices that are consistently related to reduced recidivism—pro-social modeling and reinforcement, problem solving, the use of cognitive techniques, work-client relationship, and risk level of clients.

Reducing Recidivism Through Probation Supervision: What We Know and Don’t Know From Four Decades of Research Cover

“When Judge Steven Alm wanted to change the behavior of drug-using probationers, he instituted a program that used strict "swift and certain" principles. A rigorous NIJ-funded evaluation in 2009 proved him right. Probationers in Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program were significantly less likely to fail drug tests or miss probation appointments. They also were sentenced to less time in prison because of probation revocations than were probationers who did not participate in the program. Now, as jurisdictions around the country try to copy Hawaii's HOPE program, one central question arises: Can Hawaii's success be duplicated? To find out, NIJ and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) are replicating and evaluating the HOPE model in four jurisdictions that vary widely in population density and geographic location: Clackamas County, Ore.; Essex County, Mass.; Saline County, Ark.; and Tarrant County, Texas. To see whether the replications work as well as they did in Hawaii, researchers are conducting process and outcome evaluations and cost assessments. NIJ asked Angela Hawken, who evaluated Hawaii's HOPE program, to discuss some of the challenges that jurisdictions might face — as well as several keys to success — when implementing a HOPE-style program.”

Replicating HOPE: Can Others Do It As Well As Hawaii? Cover

This handbook discusses policy responses to probation and parole violations that enhance the effectiveness of supervision while also improving community safety. Chapters include: Critical issues in violations -- an overview; The importance of vision, mission, goals, and core values; Collaboration -- a central ingredient for success; Developing baseline information; Supervision; Developing tools to make the policy work; Increasing available choices to violation response; Outcome-based interventions; Monitoring the impact of the policy; And tangible outcomes.

Responding to Parole and Probation Violations: A Handbook to Guide Local Policy Development Cover

This is a great article explaining how and why community corrections officers experience traumatic stress on the job and related efforts to address this problem. Sections cover: stress—it comes with the job; number of primary traumatic incidents for officers—28% experience four or more incidents; secondary (indirect ) traumatic stress (STS) or compassion fatigue--symptoms and number experienced—44% of 3-4 symptoms; vicarious traumatization (VT) due to empathetic encounters with victimized individuals and number of incidents experienced—56% of 4 or more; corrections fatigue—symptoms and number experienced—67% of 5 or more; unintended negative consequences of evidence-based practices (EBPs) on trauma exposure; managing stress in the workplace; Maricopa County Adult Probation Department (MCAPD) pilot program to address the impact of trauma exposure; employee stress management model—pre-incident prevention strategies (i.e., Officer Specific Training, and Administration Specific Training), post-incident interventions (i.e., Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team, Individual Crisis Intervention (ICI), and stress assessments), and the evaluation of pre/post measures; and author observations.

Secondary Trauma Cover

These presentation slides show the efficacy of using quick dips, 2-3 day confinement in jail, a swift and certain response to non-compliance, for those probationers who violate probation conditions for the first time. Topics discussed include: quick dips overview; analytical framework; sample; matching—variables likely to predict non-compliance or selection for a quick dip; propensity score matching (PSM); intermediate outcomes; supervision outcomes; and conclusions. "Offenders that received a quick dip [77.2%] had greater supervision compliance than offenders in the comparison group [45.9%]."

Short-Term Jail Confinement Cover

<p>This is the first "thorough systematic scan of the U.S. to determine the extent to which these [risk assessment] tools have been adopted across the country" (p. 1). Sections of this report address" statewide uniform assessment; layered/regional assessment; locally administered assessment; and design variation in assessment tools. An excellent chart shows the use of these tools by state with information supplied according to: state; probation administration; authority—state statute, probation agency policy, state agency recommended, or local policy; risk assessment tool used; and statewide implementation.</p>

Statewide Risk Assessment in Juvenile Probation Cover

Pages

Subscribe to Probation