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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.

Growing empirical research finds that a correctional system devoted to punishment is ineffective and can produce criminogenic effects. As a result, justice organizations, including probation, are encouraging managers and staff to adopt evidence-based practices (EBPs), supported by scientific evidence, such as validated risk and needs assessments and cognitive-behavioral therapies. Implementation of EBPs falls heavily on street-level workers, such as probation officers (POs) as they implement policy, yet little attention examines whether and how EBPs align within the traditionally authoritarian justice environment. Using over 1,000 hr of observation and interview data with probation staff, the present study examines how probation staff understand and use EBPs. Findings indicate that probation staff continue to make discretionary decisions regarding whom they can use EBPs with and situations in which EBP use is appropriate. Findings have significant implications for the acceptability, feasibility, and transportability of EBPs in criminal justice environments.

This program interviewed four directors of state parole and probation agencies who were attending a conference at the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) in Washington, DC. These directors share what works to achieve successful case completions while also protecting public safety.

Successful Parole and Probation Practices Cover

This is an excellent website for learning about this innovative approach to reducing recidivism. "About one-third of probationers and parolees fail the terms of their supervision. Over three-quarters of parolees are re-arrested within five years, and over half return to prison. High failure rates for people on probation and parole—whether for new offenses, revocations, or individuals who abscond from supervision—result in increased crime, crowded prisons and jails, and strained public budgets … Why Swift Certain and Fair? Because—if the conditions are right—a SCF program can take high-risk individuals in your jurisdiction and substantially reduce their drug use, revocation and re-arrest rates, and the subsequent reliance on incarceration." Points of entry contained on this website are: why SCF; current programs; ingredients for success; stakeholders' roles; and what's happening now.

Swift, Certain, & Fair Cover

The utilization of a web-based Reusable Case Management System (RCMS) by the New York City Department of Probation to send judges offender reports prior to sentencing hearings is described. Not only are considerable amounts of paper, ink, energy, etc. being saved, but the rate of on-time delivery of reports is at 100%.

The Greening of Probation Cover

“Probation is a long-standing feature of the criminal justice system and is found in every state. Unfortunately, however, probation has not been as successful as its original proponents hoped that it would be: Approximately one-third of offenders placed on probation wind up in prison or abscond. In 2004, a Hawaii state court judge developed a new way of managing probationers that has shown the promise of reforming offenders and reducing costs borne by the criminal justice system and the public. That project—known as Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, or HOPE—uses a fundamentally different approach to traditional probation supervision. The federal and state governments should look to this program as a potentially valuable criminal justice reform” (p. 1). HOPE uses a swift and certain consequence for a violation of a probationer’s conditions for release. This has been shown to promote a greater degree of deterrence in the offender. Sections that follow an abstract are: key points; traditional probation; the HOPE project; areas for reform; and conclusion.

The Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement Project: A Potentially Worthwhile Correctional Reform Cover

This study’s purpose was to “determine the extent to which people on probation and parole contribute to the demands on the resources of local law enforcement, and to identify what opportunities exist to use data to target their limited resources more effectively” (p. 3). Some of the findings show that: only one in five arrests are people on probation or parole; for these individuals one in six arrests were for violent crime, one in three for drug crime; and an assessment of a parolee for risk of rearrest was effective, while that for probation’s was not. Two of the recommendations made in this report are: promote the use of a validated risk assessment instrument; and provide evidence-based practices for those people at high risk for re-offending.

he Impact of Probation and Parole Populations on Arrests in Four California Cities Cover

This report explains why the current probation officer to supervisor ratio (7:1 span of control) should not be increased to a higher level due to significant impacts on the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based practices (EBPs) in the Community Based Correctional System in Iowa. Span of control is “the number of individuals, or resources, that a person can effectively supervise within a structured organizational, business of military setting” (p. i). Sections of this report following an executive summary are: the importance of a low span of control in effective implementation of EBPs for probation and parole; findings on the impact of this low span of control; probation officer competencies; application of theoretical span of control factors to an EBP probation and parole environment; and conclusions and considerations.

The Importance of a Low Span of Control in Effective Implementation of Evidence Based Probation and Parole Practices Cover

"Barriers that could impede the successful implementation of a supervision program (e.g., the responsivity principle) are frequently discussed under the risk, needs, and responsivity rubric, but have been historically under-researched. This paper describes an initial empirical investigation of the presence of responsivity factors among offenders under federal post-conviction supervision. From this analysis, we know that probation officers identified 28% of the nearly 20,000 offenders placed on federal supervision between November 2013 and March 2014 as having responsivity problems serious enough to constitute major barriers to supervision interventions. The most common responsivity factors identified are inadequate transportation and mental health. Offenders classified into the highest PCRA risk category were substantially more likely to have responsivity problems than their lower risk counterparts. These and other findings involving the presence of responsivity among federally supervised offenders will be further explored in this paper." Findings are presented for: presence of responsivity factors for offenders under federal supervision; relationship between responsivity factors and offender risk and supervision levels; investigating offenders identified with "other" responsivity factors; relationship between offender demographic characteristics and responsivity factors; and variation in the presence of responsivity across the federal judicial districts.

The Neglected "R" – Responsivity and the Federal Offender cover

This article evaluates the role of probation during the period in which the incarceration rate grew at an alarming rate. Sections discuss: the historic link between prison and probation; an explanation of the rise (and potential reversal) of mass incarceration; perspectives on probation—according to the policy arena and to critical academic scholarship; the paradox of probation—serving as both an alternative to prison and as a factor in the growth of incarceration; measuring the probation-prison link outcomes—national and state-level analysis; and the paradox of probation and recent downsizing. “The results suggest that probation was not the primary driver of mass incarceration in most states, nor is it likely to be a simple panacea to mass incarceration. Rather, probation serves both capacities, acting as an alternative and as a net-widener, to varying degrees across time and place … When combined with other key efforts, reforms to probation can be part of the movement to reverse mass incarceration” (p. 51).

The Paradox of Probation: Community Supervision in the Age of Mass Incarceration Cover


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