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Low Risk Offenders Under Probation Supervision: Risk Management and the Risk-Needs-Responsivity Framework (2018)

Community supervision agencies commonly use resource allocation models to identify the amount of monitoring and treatment to provide individuals under supervision. The risk-needs-responsivity model guides these decisions, suggesting the level of supervision should align with one’s risk level, with fewer services provided to those at a lower risk of recidivism. However, probation officers often operate under a risk management model with perceptions of risk guiding decisions. Using qualitative data, the current study examined the implementation of a telephone monitoring system for low risk offenders. This research explored (a) probation staff perceptions of telephone monitoring, (b) probation staff adaptations of telephone monitoring, and (c) individual and external influences related to telephone supervision use. Findings suggest officer perceptions of risk and liability affect use of telephone supervision for low risk probationers. Results highlight challenges associated with implementing the risk principle given tendencies to oversupervise as a means to protect public safety.

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