WA Considering Statewide “Swift and Certain” Parolee System


In an experiment, 35 Seattle parolees, were put under a new kind of supervision. Every time they failed a drug test or blew off a meeting with a corrections officer, they'd quickly be jailed, reports the Associated Press. After no more than three days, they'd be released. More serious offenses would result in up to 30 days in jail. Another 35 ex-cons were the control group. Their would be dealt with less consistently, with offenses resulting in anything from a verbal reprimand to 60 days behind bars.

After six months, the parolees subject to the experimental “swift and certain” system of punishment showed dramatically lower rates of drug use. They also were less likely to be sent back to prison. “I went into it with some skepticism. How could something so simple work?” said corrections administrator Donta Harper. “But it worked.” The pilot project is being proposed for a statewide remaking of probation and parole – collectively known as community custody – that would put Washington at the forefront of a nationwide push to change how they function. The system is modeled on a program started 8 years ago in Hawaii and called HOPE–Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement.

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