fbpx

PUBLICATIONS

Adult Probation

THE ISSUE.When spending taxpayer money on criminal justice, it is counterproductive and wasteful to enact policies that create more criminals, rather than enacting policies that reduce the incidence of crime. Communities do not benefit from locking up low-risk offenders. In prison, the offender is surrounded by hardened criminals and removed from his family and community. Because the offender is unable to work and earn income, he may be unable to pay adequate restitution to the victim of the crime. Moreover, when he is released, he will face a tough transition back to life outside of prison due to regulatory barriers to reentry. If he does not transition effectively, the state may have facilitated the development of a low-risk nonviolent offender into a career criminal.  In effect, taxpayers will have spent more money to make their communities less safe.

As Mark Earley and Newt Gingrich have noted, “[j]ust as a student’s success isn’t measured by his entry into high school but by his graduation…celebrating taking criminals off the street with little thought to their imminent return to society is foolhardy.”

THE IMPACT. Probation presents an alternative to incarceration for certain low-risk offenders, and it carries three advantages when implemented appropriately. First, instead of sending low-risk offenders to prison, probation allows a chance to remain in the community, which keeps family structures together, workers available to the workforce, and allows offenders to be rehabilitated.

Secondly, because probation allows offenders to keep jobs and earn income, it increases the likelihood that they will be able to pay proper restitution to victims.

Third, because probation is significantly cheaper than incarceration, it can be a cost-effective form of rehabilitation. In Missouri, for example, incarceration is five times as expensive as probation, and the state has begun notifying judges of the costs of the sentences they administer. Lengthy and expensive sentences are necessary and unavoidable for serious offenders – but not necessarily for low-level, non-violent offenders.  For these individuals, probation may be offered, and it may be conditioned on the offender receiving important services, like regular attendance at drug or psychiatric counseling, which can reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Thus, in some cases, society’s public safety goals may be achieved without the costs of incarcerating, facilitating reentry, or tracking down and re-incarcerating offenders who have become career criminals.

Probation can be made particularly efficient through the use of risk assessments, which are inventories containing questions designed to predict whether the individual will recidivate. The risk factors inquired about may include age, criminal record, employment status, history of substance use, and age of first offense. A risk assessment instrument can be administered when an offender begins probation to determine the appropriate level of supervision.

THE CONSERVATIVE SOLUTION.

– Consider probation in lieu of incarceration for low-level, nonviolent offenders.

– Research and utilize evidence-based practices, such as risk assessments, to determine which offenders are low-risk for recidivism and thus better served by conditional probation.

– Enhance the use of problem-solving courts that address underlying issues such as substance abuse and mental illness. These courts can provide specialized oversight and victim-offender mediation that present a low-cost alternative to incarceration.

– Institute performance-based funding for probation departments. Local probation departments that are successful should receive additional funds in order to further develop their methods. Other departments will adopt proven successful methods in order to qualify for enhanced funding.

Colson Task Force Releases Report Detailing Recommendations For Federal Corrections Reform

Michael Haugen | January 26, 2016
In a press conference today, members of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections released a report detailing the findings of their year-long effort to identify the main…

Gelb and Prins: A “Prison Composition Index” Is A More Holistic Approach For Gauging Reform Success

Michael Haugen | June 24, 2015
In a new column published yesterday in the Washington Times, Adam Gelb and Craig Prins, of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project, state that with 40 years’ worth of evidence…

Alabama’s Sweeping Justice Reinvestment Act Confronts Stubborn Prison Overpopulation, Recidivism

Michael Haugen | May 8, 2015
In an effort to confront a spiraling prison population that is believed to be twice its original maximum capacity, the Alabama legislature on Thursday passed Senate Bill 67–the Justice…

Mike Klein: Next Move for Georgia Justice Reform Belongs to Legislators

Right on Crime | February 11, 2015
Mike Klein, criminal justice commentator, writes: Georgia legislators will soon have the opportunity to reconfigure the state’s troubled adult misdemeanor private probation industry, redesign juvenile justice technology information tools…

Washington Looks Into Conservative Criminal Justice Reforms

Right on Crime | January 23, 2015
Winds of change in criminal justice aren’t completely leaving liberal states behind. Washington is also showing interest in Justice Reinvestment. This movement was begun by the Council of State…

AG Holder Hesitant on Assessments

Derek M. Cohen | August 4, 2014
In an exclusive interview granted to Time Magazine, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed strong concerns about the equity of empirical risk assessments used to determine how a sentence will…

Ken Blackwell: “When Father’s Day cards go to jail”

Right on Crime | June 15, 2014
Right on Crime signatory and senior fellow for family empowerment at the Family Research Council Ken Blackwell writes in USA Today: “Given the heavy toll incarcerating a parent takes…

Right on Crime signatories applaud findings of report “Max Out: The Rise in Prison Inmates Released Without Supervision”

Right on Crime | June 4, 2014
Right on Crime signatories applaud findings of report “Max Out: The Rise in Prison Inmates Released Without Supervision” Austin, TX — Responding to a new national report showing high…

Louisiana looks to Texas to get right on crime

Right on Crime | April 18, 2014
“The Pelican Institute points out that Louisiana is out of step, even with conservative states like Texas and Georgia, which have moved away from prison terms for nonviolent offenders…

Mississippi HB 585: Recommendations of the Corrections and Criminal Justice Task Force

Right on Crime | April 8, 2014
Why does Mississippi need HB585? Mississippi’s prison population has grown by 17 percent in the last decade, topping 22,600 inmates last year. The state now has the second-highest imprisonment…

New poll shows that American support for drug treatment vs. incarceration is on the rise

Right on Crime | April 3, 2014
A survey by Pew Research Center shows that the public is skeptical of sending non-violent drug offenders to prison — and finds that the majority prefer offenders be treated…
Connect With Right on Crime
STAY Informed:
www.scriptsell.net