Offenders Under Supervision In The Community Criminology Essay

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Placing a convicted offender under supervision in the community as a substitute for incarceration has its roots in colonial times per Barken and Bryjak, (2004) who further cite Walker (1998) in reporting colonial jails held debtors during a period of time when punishments could be such things as flogging, being held in stocks (shaming), or, at times, execution. The courts did allow offenders to post a cash bail or peace bond wherein the person would have to report to the court regularly. This form of judicial reprieve allowed the postponement of punishment as long as the offender obeyed the law (2004).

The more formal system of probation developed during the mid 1800s when John Augustus, a wealthy Boston shoemaker posted bail for almost 2000 offenders, most were first time offenders charged with vice or drinking violations. He supervised their behaviors, assisted them in finding employment, education, and adequate living arrangements. Augustus' strategies helped to formulate the nation's first formal probation system (Petersilia, 1997; Walker, 1998 as cited by Barken and Bryjak, 2004).

Abadinsky (2009) suggests results in the measure of the degree of success or failure of probation or parole are largely contradictory and in order to determine such successes or failures, two issues are of primary significance: a solid definition of the terms "success" and "adequate supervision" (382). Citing Maltz (1984), Abadinsky asserts success of probation or parole is generally measured in terms of recidivism, the failure to follow specific guidelines and rules of behavior or committing new crimes by the probationer/parolee.

For the purpose of this paper, recidivism is the measuring factor used in a fairly new and innovative approach to probation supervision in the state of Hawai'i as conceived by Judge Steven Alm, a First Circuit Court judge assigned to the felony Criminal Division. Judge Alm currently chairs the Corrections Population Management Commission, appointed by the governor to establish maximum inmate population limits for each correctional facility and to formulate policies and procedures to prevent the inmate population from exceeding the capacity of each correctional facility. He is also co-chair of the Interagency Council on Intermediate Sanctions, whose vision is the reduction of recidivism and prevention of future victimization by adult offenders. Prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Alm served as the United States Attorney for the District of Hawai'i from November 1994 until April 2001. From 1985 to 1994, Judge Alm served as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu. During that time he served as a Felony Team Supervisor and as Director of the District and Family Court division and personally handled complex homicide cases. Judge Alm worked as a Westlaw Editor for West Publishing Company from 1983-1985 and received his law degree from the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law in 1983 and his Masters' degree in Education from the University of Oregon (Smart Strategies Panelist biography). Before getting into the specifics of the paper a brief outlook at crime rates, prison data, and budgetary concerns is warranted.

An analysis conducted and released in 2009 by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) based on data from the 2008 FBI Uniform Crime Report revealed that violent crime fell by 1.9 percent and property crimes by 0.8 percent and yet the prison and jail populations continue to grow (Justice Policy Institute, 2009).

According to the Pew Center on the States, 1 in 31 U. S. adults are in prison or jail, or on probation or parole with the vast majority of these offenders living in the community. However, data revealed nearly 90 percent of state correction dollars are spent on prisons. Probation and parole has had the largest growth in population. State general fund correctional spending increased by more than 300 percent imposing a national taxpayer burden of $68 billion per year on U.S. taxpayers and yet, recidivism rates remain largely unchanged (Pew, 2009).

While probation and parole are the dominant correction programs (with 1 in 45 adults in the United States under some sort of corrections management) available to off-set an even larger prison inmate growth, these programs receive a minority of budgeting dollars. Data suggests that of "several states who were able to provide long-term spending figures" in the Pew study, "seven times as many dollars went to probation and parole" and while "one out of three offenders are in jail, almost nine out of ten correctional dollars are spent on prisons (Pew, 2009)."

The Pew Center reports in fiscal 2008, the daily cost of supervising a probationer was $3.42 and the average cost to house a prison inmate, $78.95, more than 20 times higher than the cost of probationers. Huge caseloads and new laws mandating lifetime supervision of some offenders as well as expanded roles in law enforcement such as cyber-crime detection have stressed an already slim budget (Pew, 2009). In spite of these overwhelming odds, there have been significant advances in community supervision and among those advances is HOPE probation, Hawai'i's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement.

Judge Steven Alm brought together probation officers, judges, attorneys-prosecution and defense, and police agencies to design and implement a high-intensity supervision designed to reduce probation violations by drug offenders and others at high risk for recidivism (Hawken and Kleiman, 2008). Faced with the overwhelming cases on his dockets and the glaring fact most of these individuals were convicted offenders with drug problems sentenced to probation rather than prison who then missed appointments, tested positive for drugs or repeatedly violated the other terms of probation, decided to try something different (Rosen, 2010; Kleiman, 2009;).

In the mid-1990s, while a U.S. attorney in Hawai'i, Judge Alm attended a presentation by David M. Kennedy on a new concept of deterrence. Kennedy and his colleagues Anne M. Piehl and Anthony Braga worked with the head of the Youth Violence Strike Force division in Boston. Supported by recent research suggesting people are more likely to obey the law if law enforcement is viewed as legitimate and since traditional deterrence wasn't working, he began to persuade gangs to behave by issuing a credible threat: when a gang attracted attention with acts of violence, the entire gang-all members with outstanding warrants, traffic violations, or probation/parole violations would be rounded up. "Legitimacy is the core element of law enforcement" according to Kennedy and one of the best ways to increase that legitimacy is to enlist the "community's moral voice"… "through persuading their friends and neighbors to pressure them to obey the law". Within two years, city homicide rates fell by almost half and a two-thirds reduction in youth violence was realized (Rosen, 2010).

In an October 17, 2009 forum (Unlocking Justice: Community Protection and Smart Spending) conducted at Chaminade University of Honolulu , Judge Alm explained his journey of realization that something had to be "fixed" in regards to the revolving door many probationers found themselves stuck in. While he said he could appreciate the difficulties probation officers face with overwhelming caseloads, he was dismayed by the numerous violations of probation terms many of the offenders had accumulated before they appeared before him with recommendations to serve out the sentences originally sentenced to. According to Judge Alm, this did not make sense in terms of changing behaviors. The analogy he used in relation to this situation was one of raising a child. When teaching a child right and wrong behaviors, Judge Alms asserts the most effective method is "sure and swift" consequences for behaviors expressed. If a child were to throw a fit, in example, removing him/her from the present situation (go to your room) may be appropriate. The sanctions or rewards would be appropriate for the age of the child and the behaviors needing modification as suggested by Judge Alm. If the child is ignored for violations of rules of behavior, they do not learn that this behavior is unacceptable and continue on with the behavior. With a swift and sure response, the child will quickly learn which behaviors are acceptable and thus, Judge Alm insists, probationers should warrant the same treatment for their behaviors (Unlocking Justice, 2009; Kleiman, 2009).

The program, developed and initiated with the cooperation of probation officers, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and police agencies, streamlined the process of enforcing probation requirements, introduced random rather than scheduled drug testing, and immediate rather than delayed hearings. The threat of short jails stays for the first violation and increasing in severity and escalating to periods of months in residential treatment are used as compliance measures. Treatment is mandated only for those who repeatedly violate probation rules; for other probationers with drug problems it is available but not required.

In the initial implementation of the program, probation officers were asked to select a group of seemingly incorrigible probationers who were "one-failure-to-comply" away from a possible revocation hearing. HOPE started with thirty-four chronic violators and, on advice from a public defender, brought them to court for a hearing in which Judge Alm explained the changes in their probations. There would be "no more warnings, if you fail a drug test, if you fail to meet with your probation officer when you are supposed to, or you fail with other terms of your probation…you will go to jail" was Alm's final warning. Random drug testing was added later where the probationer has to call the hotline daily to see if they must appear for drug testing. If they are called, they had a certain amount of time to report to the probation office for drug testing.

Doubts about the effectiveness of the program disappeared as anticipated inundation of probation violators failed to appear as projected by the doubtful. Surprisingly to many, within the first two weeks of implementation of HOPE, only five of the thirty-four offenders broke the rules and an 80% overall rate reduction was seen in failed or missed drug tests. The program seeming was reversing the high levels of non-compliance of offenders previously experienced making for a more manageable workload for all involved and Judge Alm was able to expand HOPE to 135 probationers without hiring more people (Kleiman, 2009; Hawkins and Kleiman, 2008).

Possibly the strongest advocate of the effectiveness of HOPE is the results of a 2008 report by Angela Hawkins, Ph.D. and Mark Kleiman, Ph.D. submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2009 entitled: Managing Drug Involved Probationers with Swift and Sure Sanctions: Evaluating Hawai'i's HOPE. The report cites HOPES stated goals (reduction in drug use, new crimes, and incarceration) have been achieved both in the initial pilot program and in the randomized control program among general-population probationers.

(Hawkins, Kleiman, 2008).

Robert DuPont, M.D., President of the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. cites Hawkins and Kleiman (2008) emphasizing comparisons between HOPE probationers and routine probationers which has shown a reduction in drug use by more than 90% and new crimes by 50% all the while reducing the average number of days spent behind bars for HOPE probationers. This comparison also showed probationers assigned to HOPE averaged approximately the same amount of days in jail for probation violations, serving more but shorter terms but showed they were "significantly less likely to be arrested during follow-up at 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months (2008)." For non-HOPE probationers there was an increase in violations with 37% eventually having their probation revoked, in comparison to fewer than 5% for HOPE participants. Also noted was fewer than ¼ of the group needed residential substance abuse treatment and fewer than 10% faced revocation hearings (DuPont).

Part of the Hawkins and Kleiman research analysis of HOPE included a report on the outcome of drug testing of HOPE probationers and the comparison group. The drug testing protocol between the two groups is vastly different. Comparison group participants were not randomly tested but had scheduled UAs as a part of their regular office visits whereas HOPE probationers were subjected to routine testing as well as randomized testing (at least six times per month during their first 2 months and less frequently after that). Three months prior to being selected for HOPE probation, in drug tests conducted showed those who were selected for HOPE tested positive for drugs in more than 53% of their baseline drug tests compared to 22% for the comparison group (2008).

According to Hawkins and Kleiman (2008), positive rates of drug tests for HOPE probationers "fell 83% (from 53% to 9%) compared to comparison group probationers who showed a positive-test rate increase by half, (from 22% to 33%)" (18). One of the interesting aspects of the program comparison was evidenced by observations from probation officers who noted improvement in behavior from their non-HOPE caseloads after HOPE was implemented which they attributed to a "spillover effect" of HOPE. HOPE probationers and comparison probationers would sit together in the same waiting room where comparison group members would witness the immediate "arrest" of HOPE probationers who tested "dirty." Probation officers surmised by witnessing such actions, comparison probationers improved their behavior so as not to be assigned or transferred to HOPE or were fearful of receiving the same type of treatment (19).

Other key outcomes at the six month analysis from the program are that arrest rates for comparison probationers were three times higher than HOPE probationers and probation revocation rates were higher in the comparison group (31%) than the HOPE group (9%); for missed PO appointments, HOPE probationers reduced missed PO appointments by 85% while the comparison group increased in missed PO appointments by 23%; drug testing showed a reduction of 91% in positive UAs among HOPE probationers with no changes in rates of positive UAs for the control group; arrest rates for comparison probationers were three times higher than HOPE probationers; and probation revocation rates were higher in the comparison group (31%) than the HOPE group (9%) (Hawkins and Kleiman, 2008).

Hawkins and Kleiman state:

None of the principles of the HOPE project is new. The basic idea is more than thirty years old, yet Honolulu is the first jurisdiction to make it work. While local conditions were in some ways favorable to the project, the key to success seems to have been public-sector entrepreneurship and solid delivery. The fragmented nature of the criminal justice process creates many opportunities for failures of public management; good ideas, even proven ideas, are more common than good execution. Thus the HOPE story has potential lessons not only for other attempts to enforce the conditions of community corrections but for many different kinds of innovations in crime control (28).

HOPE-style programs are being explored in such locations as California-not a duplicate program rather a program adapted and scaled to the local conditions of the area to be served. If these programs work, they could foreseeable pay for themselves through reducing the numbers in prison. The biggest obstacle to a successful expansion of HOPE-type programs, according to Kleiman is impatience. Judge Alm suggests starting small. By managing smaller numbers, errors and inconsistencies can be more easily addressed and the potential for lost credibility greatly reduced (Kleiman, 2009).

Works Cite

Abadinsky, H. (2009). Probation and parole: theory and practice. 10th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Barken, S.E. and Bryjak, G. J. (2004). Fundamentals of criminal justice. Boston, Massechusetts: Allen and Bacon, Inc.

Buntin, J. (2009). Swift and certain: Hawaii's probation experiment. A maverick judge stresses mild but immediate punishment. October 31, 2009.

DuPont, R. ( ). HOPE probation: A model than can be implemented at every level of government. Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.

Hawken, A. and Kleiman, M. (2008). Managing drug involved probationers with swift and certain sanctions: Evaluation of HOPE probation. Research report for the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Justice Policy Institute, (2009). Crime report shows violent crime fell in 2008 as incarceration rates continue to decrease.

Kleiman, M.A.R. (2009). Jail break. Washington Monthly. September 2009

Petersilia, J. (1997). Probation in the United States. Crime and justice: A review of research. 22:149-200. From: Barken, S.E. and Bryjak, G. J. (2004). Fundamentals of criminal justice. Boston, Massechusetts: Allen and Bacon, Inc.

Pew Center on the States, (2009). One in 31: The long reach of American corrections. Washington, D.C.

Rosen, J. (2010). Prisoners of parole. January 10, 2010. New York Times.

Walker, Samuel (1998). Popular justice: A history of American Criminal Justice, 2nd Edition. New York: Oxford University Press. From: Barken, S.E. and Bryjak, G. J. (2004). Fundamentals of criminal justice. Boston, Massachusetts: Allen and Bacon, Inc.