California Probation Failures Drop Under Incentive Plan for Counties


California’s probation failure rate declined 23 percent in 2010 after a state law provided an incentive for counties to reduce such failures, says the Pew Public Safety Performance Project. The 2009 law awards counties that reduce the rate at which they send probationers to state prison by sharing 40–45 percent of the savings to the state from not housing revoked offenders. County probation departments are required to reinvest their share of the
savings into evidence-based probation, defined as programs and practices that have been scientifically proved to reduce recidivism.

Among changes being made by counties are use of risk and needs assessments to determine supervision levels and case plans, cognitive behavioral therapy for offenders, and the use of graduated sanctions and rewards to hold offenders accountable and encourage compliance with the terms of supervision, The California Department of Finance estimated that because of the reduction in revocations, 6,182 fewer probationers entered state prison in 2010, generating state savings of $179 million.

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