Texas County Tests Hawaii Idea of Swift Probation Sanctions


Tarrant County, Tx., is testing out a probation idea called Supervision With Intensive enForcemenT, or SWIFT, which uses swift and certain punishment to motivate noncompliant probationers to follow the rules, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The concept is simple: Every time selected probationers mess up, they go to the county jail for a short stay. Lie or hide and their stay will be longer.

Judge Mollee Westfall said she believes the program, which is modeled after a Hawaii’s successful HOPE program, could eventually transform the way Tarrant County probationers are supervised and sanctioned. “It will require more jail space in the short run, but in the long run — if it works the way we expect it to and the way it did in Hawaii — it will require less prison space, it will lead to less revocations, and it will pay us back tenfold any money that we put into it,” she said. Because Texas gives additional funding to probation departments that use “progressive sanctions” — verbal reprimands, increased reporting, community service — probationers often get more chances before they’re revoked.

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