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August 28, 2019

Highlighting the need for community supervision to focus on rewarding success

Marc Levin has this new Hill commentary under the headline "Our justice system must reward success."  Here are excerpts:

Given that 4.5 million Americans are on community supervision, the question of how many of them no longer require government control has far-reaching implications, both from a government fiscal standpoint and societally.  Fortunately, policymakers are increasingly focused on creating standards for whether continued supervision is needed that focus not on the past, but on the future.  Since 2007, 18 states have implemented policies allowing individuals on probation to earn time for exemplary performance.

Robust earned time and early termination policies for community supervision have proven effective for both public safety and taxpayers who fund probation and parole agencies. In 2008, Arizona enacted a law giving people on probation 20 days credit for each month they make progress on their treatment plan and avoid new arrests.  In the subsequent two years, the number of people on probation convicted of new crimes substantially declined.

This is not surprising given that research reveals that most recidivism occurs during the initial part of the supervision period.  Multiple studies show that people are most likely to recidivate right after being released than at the end of their supervision.  Similarly, after New York City early terminated low-risk people on probation, they were less likely to be re-arrested for a new felony during their first year off supervision than similar individuals who had remained on supervision.

Moreover, removing people for whom monitoring isn’t likely to improve public safety from the supervision rolls frees up probation and parole officers to supervise those who are at greater risk of committing a new crime.  This means these officers can do more than shuffle the files of 100 people on their caseload and instead provide interventions such as motivational interviewing that addresses the attitudes and behaviors of those most at risk to recidivate.

Despite the progress some jurisdictions have made in providing incentives for success and focusing supervision on those who need it, many others do not allow earned time or early termination.  Additionally, excessive supervision periods remain, ranging from up to 40 years on probation for some in Minnesota to lifetime parole sentences in Nebraska.

When it comes to community supervision, we must focus on how well the system achieves rehabilitation, not on maximizing its duration.  Let’s reward success by allowing people to demonstrate they are not a threat and earn their way off supervision.  Intensive supervision has a place for those most at risk of going back to their old ways, but in many cases, government can accomplish more by doing less.

August 28, 2019 at 07:27 PM | Permalink


Here is an example, I would like to discuss: A young father (a bachelor) who had custody of his daughter met a young woman who became part of his and his daughters life. The daughter was visiting her mother (with supervision) out of state on Holidays and summers. The young woman and the young father had a boy. During this time the young woman was dissatisfied with the choices she had made in life but afraid the young father would have custody of their son. The daughter was used to commit a rift between the father & daughter and the daughter was unhappy. The daughter wanted to live with her mother, out of state.

The young woman conspired to set the young father up for child sexual assault with the help of her family. The mother of the young woman (we will call C) was working as a police dispatcher out of state, the brother (we will call E) was constantly in trouble, so much that C was told to get him out of town, that they were tired of dealing with him. E went to Texas where he visited with sister & mother while an arrest warrant was issued from C's place of employment. The young woman (we will call D) was not sure who the father of the boy child was and had & paid for a paternity test. D set up with E's girlfriend to stay with D until E was released - then D moved out and E's girlfriend was left in young father's home with no money, no transportation and a sob story. E's girlfriend was used as a witness against young father. Young father served 5 years in prison, would not take parole because he would have to admit guilt when he was innocent. The biased DA made him a lifetime sex offender and put 10 year probation on a young man who was innocent. This bias Court did no investigation and did not care to, was influenced by a corrupt police employee, and a friend of the court former Judge. He had no due process, lost his home, lost his ability to provide for his needs and causing him to be indigent, his children were taken from a caring and loving father. Today 14 years later, the children (now adults) have been ruined and mislead and the young father is still being harassed when he had never been in trouble before these accusations.

Posted by: LC in Texas | Aug 29, 2019 2:49:16 PM

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