Ken’s Comments:


I help people file motions to get off probation every week. READ Practical Tip: Saddled with a Long period of Probation? Get OUT of the System ASAP! Modify terms/conditions of Probation or Parole! Call me about how to change that!

Practical Tip: Saddled with a Long period of Probation? Get OUT of the System ASAP! Modify terms/conditions of Probation or Parole! Call me about how to change that!

Many ex offenders need not be on parole/probation at all! I have long realized that what this author says is true.

Excerpts from the Article:


Two-thirds of those released from prison are re-arrested within three years. This incarceration cycle hurts families and communities—and also costs a lot of money. Governments and nonprofits have tried many programs to reduce recidivism, but most are not successful. In a recent review of the literature on prisoner reentry, I summarized the best evidence on how to improve the lives of the formerly incarcerated. One of the most striking findings was that reducing the intensity of community supervision for those on probation or parole is a highly cost-effective strategy. Several studies of excellent quality and using a variety of interventions and methods all found that we could maintain public safety and possibly even improve it with less supervision—that is, fewer rules about how individuals must spend their time and less enforcement of those rules. Less supervision is less expensive, so we could achieve the same or better outcomes for less money.

For instance, Hennigan, et al. (2010), measured the effects of intensive supervision using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in Los Angeles. Juveniles sentenced to probation were randomly assigned to intensive supervision—in the form of a community-based after-school program—or standard probation. Five years later, there were no significant differences in outcomes between the treatment and control groups, with one exception: Low-risk boys (ages 15 or younger) who were randomized to intensive supervision were worse off. Intensive supervision for that group led to more incarceration and a higher likelihood of continued criminal justice involvement in the years ahead. That is, intensive supervision increased criminal activity by this group, without reducing criminal activity by other groups.

Barnes, et al. (2012) used an RCT to study supervision levels in Philadelphia. Low-risk probationers were randomized to probation as usual or low-intensity supervision by parole officers with high caseloads (which forced them to pay less attention to each individual case). Less supervision means probationers may be less likely to get caught for technical violations, such as using drugs or breaking curfew. But these requirements of probation are a means to an end: what really matters for public safety is the number of new offenses committed. Eighteen months after randomization, there were no significant differences between the treatment and control groups in the likelihood of being charged for a new offense. In other words, low-intensity supervision did not result in more recidivism.

The authors hypothesize that being required to spend weekdays with other recently-released offenders may impose negative peer effects that are actively counterproductive.

Georgiou confirmed that in this dataset, when an offender has a risk score just over a cutoff, this caused a big increase in the hours of supervision they received. If intensity of supervision matters, then this big difference in supervision levels should affect recidivism. However, those big increases in supervision did not have any effect on the likelihood of a new conviction during the three years after release, at any of the risk thresholds examined.

Finally, Hyatt and Barnes (2017) examined the effectiveness of intensive supervision using a particularly impressive RCT in Philadelphia. High-risk probationers were randomly assigned “moderate risk” or “high risk” labels that determined the actual level of supervision they received. That is, their label did not correspond at all to their actual risk level. Neither the probation officers or the offenders knew about this experiment; they interpreted the labels as valid. One year after assignment, there was no significant difference between the two groups in new charges or days incarcerated. Those assigned to intensive supervision did have more technical violations, evidence that that they were caught breaking rules that were supposed to keep them out of trouble. But those rules, and the intensive supervision to enforce them, produced no public safety benefit to community members.

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