Frontloading Probation, Parole Work To Cut Crime


“Frontloading” probation and parole resources is “likely the first step toward shorter, more intensive supervision terms” for convicts, says a new report from the Pew Center on the States. The center’s Public Safety Performance Project identified Arizona, Maryland, Nevada, and Pennsylvania among states that are experimenting with a focus on higher-risk offenders in order to lower the rates of repeat crime. Maryland has been able to reduce arrest rates of parolees by 31 percent by honing its strategies, the report said. Overall, only 44 percent of the parolees discharged in 2006 fulfilled the conditions of supervision.

The report cites research showing that the likelihood of an offender’s re-arrest is about twice as high in the first month of supervision as in the 15th month. It suggests assigning the highest-risk cases to probation and parole officers with the smallest caseloads. On average, probation officers are responsible for 100 offenders and parole officers 60 offenders. The American Probation and Parole Association recommends a caseload of only 20 for officers handling “intensive” cases. Another suggestion is for probation and parole agencies to create maps showing where serious offenders are located in the community and concentrate resources there “rather than supervising a randomly scattered group of offenders.” The report was written by criminologist James Byrne of the University of Massaschusetts at Lowell.

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