California Research Bureau, California State Library

Community Correction Punishments: An Alternative To Incarceration for Nonviolent Offenders

By Marcus Nieto

May 1996


DIGEST
  1. COMMUNITY CORRECTION PROGRAMS
    1. Comprehensive Community Correction Programs
      1. Sentencing
      2. Funding
    2. Limited Community Correction Programs
    3. State Community Corrections Evaluations
    4. Community Corrections In California
  2. ALTERNATIVE SANCTION PROGRAM EVALUATIONS
    1. Intensive Supervision Programs (ISP)
    2. Day Reporting Centers
      1. Privatization of Day Reporting Centers
    3. House Arrest and Home Confinement
    4. Shock Incarceration/Boot Camp Programs
    5. Electronic Monitoring
    6. Community Residential/Restitution Centers
    7. Residential Treatment Centers
ENDNOTES


COMMUNITY CORRECTION PUNISHMENTS: AN ALTERNATIVE TO INCARCERATION FOR NONVIOLENT OFFENDERS


DIGEST

This paper presents a comparative review of community corrections programs in the United States and California. Community corrections programs provide alternative punishment sanctions for most nonviolent offenders.

The key topics discussed in this report include:

Related California Research Bureau reports include: Boot Camps: An Alternative Punishment Option For The Criminal Justice System; The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act Today. Copies of these reports may be requested from the California Research Bureau at (916) 653-7843.


COMMUNITY CORRECTION PROGRAMS


Community corrections is a range of alternative punishments for nonviolent offenders. There are two basic community corrections models in the United States. In the first model, integrated community corrections programs combine sentencing guidelines and judicial discretion ("front-end") with a variety of alternative sanctions and parole and probation options. In the second model, some states (including California) have instituted programs in which correctional officials may direct already sentenced offenders into alternative sanction programs and parole and probation options ("back-end"). Both models are designed to help reduce prison overcrowding and are less expensive alternatives to prison.

Widespread development of community correction programs in the United States began in the late 1970's as a way to offer offenders, especially those leaving jail or prison, residential services in halfway houses. The first state community correction programs began in Oregon, Colorado, and Minnesota as pilot projects with very little government-funded support. They diverted nonviolent offenders in selected pilot project areas from jails and state prisons into local alternative punishment programs. The programs were referred to as "front-end" sentencing because they allowed judges to sentence offenders to a community-based punishment rather than jail or prison. Rehabilitation programs were the preferred punishment option.

In the late 1980's, prison systems across the country began experiencing serious overcrowding of facilities. The overcrowding served as a catalyst for lawmakers to develop new options for sentencing criminal offenders. Nineteen states have now enacted various community correction programs.

Community correction programs provide many communities with local punishment options as an alternative to prison or jail. These sanction programs are lower cost alternatives to increased prison and jail construction, based on the cost per offender. They provide local courts, state departments of corrections, and state parole boards with a broad range of correctional options for offenders under their jurisdiction. The goal is to match the appropriate punishment with the crime.

Community corrections programs are integrated sanctioning strategies which seek to achieve the following goals:

Comprehensive Community Correction Programs

Eight states have adopted comprehensive Community Correction Acts which create a network of correctional programs for specific types of offenders. The acts create mechanisms by which state funds are granted to local governments and community agencies to encourage local sanctions in lieu of prison or jail. While no two state programs are alike, a comprehensive community corrections program generally includes the following elements:

Community corrections sanctions may include:

There are several key elements to an integrated community-based correctional program:

Sentencing

One of the goals of sentencing guidelines is to match the community sanction with the offender. The types of offenders which are considered for community sanctions include the following:

The goal of sentencing guidelines is to match target offender groups with the appropriate community sanction. While there are some variations among state sentencing guidelines, most establish punishment by the severity, frequency, and nature of the crime committed. For example, in Michigan, if an offender is arrested for burglary (class 'C' felony) and has a previous drug arrest (also class C), state sentencing guideline ratings provide a range of sentencing options from alternative community corrections to up to a 24 month prison sentence. The community correction option allows the judge to sentence the offender to a secured community-based substance abuse treatment program for six months, followed by a short probation period. The judge has the discretion to chose from an array of options. On the other hand, if an offender is convicted of a serious felony (class F) and has previous non-violent felony convictions, sentencing guidelines provide that alternative community corrections is not an option, and require a minimum 24 month prison sentence.

While offenders sometimes violate the terms of a community correction sentence, so far there is no evidence that the offenders currently entering these programs are a danger to communities. Evaluation studies are currently randomly tracking offenders who participate in community correction programs to determine the success or failure of the programs. Funding

The eight states which have enacted comprehensive community correction laws require a well-defined local implementation strategy that targets specific offender populations, and seeks to match their needs with the correct community sanction and service, before state funds are dispersed. Several states have also enacted on-going performance evaluation reviews to identify problem areas and fine-tune sentencing options. The other four states do not offer financial incentives or disincentives, although local implementation strategies are closely monitored by state legislatures.

Four of the 8 states also offer formula-based incentives which require community agencies to develop comprehensive, integrated long-range community correctional plans. The greater local resources and services available under the plan, the higher the state funding. Most local plans are coordinated at the county level and identify all available community treatment programs, including prevention and intervention programs, training programs, and diversion programs. Local plans must include data detailing how the community correction programs are expected to reduce commitments to prison. The formula grants include a disincentive for sending certain kinds of felons to state prison, in the form of a per-diem fee which is deducted from the local grant. Grantees are also required to monitor offenders for possible parole violations after they complete the community corrections program.

Limited Community Correction Programs

Eleven states have enacted limited community correctional programs, including California. Most are "back-end" efforts designed to either help prison-based offender transition back into society, medically treat parole violators in drug rehabilitation programs, or boot camps. They are usually followed by intensive parole or electronic monitoring supervision. The distinguishing feature of these programs is that they are centralized under the administration of state correctional or parole officials and do not include sentencing guidelines. The majority of the programs are funded and administered by the state, not local government. In most instances the state departments of parole, probation, or corrections are the responsible administrative agencies. Several states, including California, also administer "back-end" community correction programs at the local level, generally by contracting-out.

Some correctional advocates believe that state-administered community correction models which offer options such as parole, probation, or "back-end" alternative sentencing programs such as boot camps, are more effective. They contend that "net widening" (people who are in prison but could be on probation) occurs more readily when judges, not correctional officials, make community correction placement decisions. The rationale for this hypothesis is that judges appear to prefer intermediate community correction alternatives such as drug or alcohol treatment, day reporting, or counseling and restitution programs rather than probation. Some offenders fail these programs and end up in jail, thereby "widening the net." On the other hand, if alternative punishment decisions are made by departments of corrections, offenders are already be prison bound and, theoretically, their time in prison will be reduced if they complete the program (such as boot camp). Several states allow for both judicial sentencing discretion and "back-end" correctional alternatives.

State Community Corrections Evaluations

The eight "Community Correction Act" states with front-end sentencing programs have not developed sufficient data yet to determine their program effectiveness in reducing the prison population. Neither have states with more limited community correction programs. The National Institute of Justice has contracted for an independent national study of community correction programs which is supposed to be available by the end of 1996.

State legislatures have begun to require more data collection and program evaluation information to justify continued funding. The data allows continuous improvement in sentencing and program options, and has resulted in some financial benefit according to administrative officials:

The following chart compares the per-day cost in two state community correction programs with the cost of prison:

Chart 1
Cost Per Day Chart

State correctional officials from Michigan and South Carolina contend that identifying an appropriate target offender population for community correction programs and developing effective implementation strategies are important to reducing the prison population. Offenders in need of drug or alcohol treatment, and those suitable for diversion programs, were the major target in South Carolina and Michigan. For example:

Community Corrections In California

In 1965, California enacted the Probation Subsidy Act. Previously counties operated and financed their own local probation systems, without statewide standards. The Act provided counties up to $4,000 for each adult or juvenile offender not committed to state prison (above historical commitment levels). The Probation Subsidy Act was responsible for the diversion of more than 45,000 offenders from state institutions to local probation and rehabilitation-oriented programs. Essentially, California was operating a "front-end" community corrections program. This allowed local judges to sentence or place eligible offenders into local alternative punishment programs, based upon availability.

The state's county probation subsidy program operated successfully through the early 1970s. However determinate sentencing policies and increasing drug-related crime, and the related growth in numbers of offenders, made the subsidy increasingly expensive for the state. In addition, much of what was expected at the county-level in terms of offender services never materialized. For example, halfway houses and day services centers for adults were not created nor were jail service programs jointly operated by county sheriffs and probation departments, except in a few instances.1 In 1978, the Legislature replaced the Probation Subsidy Act with the County Justice System Subvention Program. This program provided counties with grants to cover a variety of local justice programs and funded a fraction (about 7.5 percent) of county probation expenditures statewide.

In 1987, the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Inmate Population Management was established by the Legislature to "reexamine traditional correctional housing approaches and to study other possible methods of housing the state's prison population." The commission released its final report containing 38 recommendations on January 29, 1990. The predominate conclusion was that the "criminal justice system of California is out of balance and will remain so unless the entire state and local criminal justice system is addressed from prevention through discharge of jurisdiction." The Commission recommended that the Legislature adopt a "Community Corrections Act" to provide state funds to localities through grants and contracts for significant expansion of public or community-based intermediate sanctions or punishment programs.

During the past five years, the state has made modest progress toward implementing the reforms advocated by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Inmate Population Management. The following is a summary of the key actions taken by the state to implement the commission's community corrections-related recommendations.

Community Corrections Act: This Act was enacted in 1994 to create a framework for community corrections in California (Penal Code Section 8050 et seq.). However implementation was contingent upon funding. Currently $2 million in state grants is available to counties for developing community-based sanction plans. Grants are administered by the Board of Corrections.

Expanded intermediate sanctions for parole violators: The California Department of Corrections has expanded its community-based treatment opportunities for parolees (including drug treatment, homeless programs, literacy labs, and employment counseling). According to state correctional officials, this has helped to reduce the number of parole violators. However, the rate of recidivism among California parolees remains higher than the national average.2

Guidelines establishing clear criteria for parole violators: The California Department of Corrections and the Board of Prison Terms have implemented procedures to standardize the criteria used by parole agents in placing parole violators in appropriate drug and alcohol treatment or detoxification programs rather than returning them to prison. This improved parole decision-making which, along with other efforts, have generally contributed to reduced parole revocation rates.

State-local coordinating: An ad-hoc organization comprised of top state and local management correctional officials has been established by the Department of Corrections. It has made only modest progress towards the specific goals outlined by the Blue Ribbon Commission, which envisioned a correctional coordinating council comprised of state and local correctional agency representatives which would develop strategies for inmate population management and facility construction.


ALTERNATIVE SANCTION PROGRAM EVALUATIONS


Until recently, both state and federal correctional agencies have focused on ensuring compliance with the regulations that accompany program funding. However, as the need increases for more jail and prison beds, especially in California, evaluating the effectiveness of alternative sanction programs for offenders becomes increasingly important. The managers of community corrections and alternative sanction programs across the country must now define, monitor, and report on program effectiveness.

The following sections describes the most frequently used alternative sanction programs, costs, and evaluation research study findings.

Intensive Supervision Programs (ISP)

Intensive Supervision (ISP) is a method of surveillance which requires a high level of offender contact with correctional officers and members of the community. Its goal is to increase control over offenders in the community and thereby reduce risk. According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Planning, the basic elements of ISP are increased supervision, surveillance and control, more contacts between correctional officers and offenders per month and a range of mandated activities including, work or vocational training, work, community service, drug testing and/or treatment and, in some cases, curfew.3

The target ISP offender populations vary from state to state. Violent offenders are excluded in some states, while in others they comprise the principal group. At least 24 states include repeat offenders and at least six include drug offenders. A 1990 survey estimated that there were over 25,000 offenders under ISP surveillance nationwide, including 3 percent of all probationers. 4

Specialized ISP caseloads allow close supervision of offenders by highly trained officers and individualized counseling including for alcohol and drug abuse, mental impairments, family violence, anger and aggression control and/or sex offender treatment and supervision. Generally, the per officer caseload varies from 30 to 40 offenders.

Most programs have the following elements in common:

Georgia's ISP program requires up to 5 face-to-face contacts per week, 132 hours of mandatory community service, a mandatory curfew, mandatory employment, a weekly check of local arrest records, automatic notification of arrest elsewhere via the State Crime Information Network, and routine and unannounced drug and alcohol testing.

In California, specialized ISP caseloads are usually composed of alcohol and drug offenders, sex offenders, domestic violence offenders, and or violent gang offenders. Offenders are usually seen at least four times per month at a residence or correctional facility and are subject to random searches and urinalysis. Many of the offenders are awaiting trial for felony offenses. Some jurisdictions combine ISP with electronic monitoring to enhance supervision.

New Jersey's ISP program differs in that offenders are released into ISP from prison. Established in 1983, the program is designed to handle up to 500 offenders who have normally served three to four months in prison before entering the program. New Jersey has 7 separate eligibility reviews to ensure that only low risk prisoners are admitted to the program, with final selection made by panels of superior court judges. The 18-month program is divided into three phases with unconditional release upon successful completion. The program operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is staffed by specially-trained probation officers who regularly work evenings and weekends, with caseloads limited to 25. In the first phase, offenders must have a minimum of 20 contacts a month with the probation officer. There is a mandatory curfew with late night curfew checks. Employment or vocational training is required, and non-compliance is cause for revocation and return to prison. Sixteen hours of community service are also mandated.

The Massachusetts ISP program is designed to improve community protection from a group of offenders who are normally placed on probation. The program targets high-risk probationers who are identified through an objective risk-classification instrument. Each offender is given a needs assessment at the outset. Probation officers then develop specific intervention strategies and make mandatory referrals in high-needs areas, such as drug or alcohol treatment which may include additional special conditions prescribed by the judge. Four face-to-face and 6 telephone contacts are required per month. Employment is verified every 14 days, and a records check is conducted once a month. Probation conditions are rigorously monitored and enforced, using a four-step revocation process. Continuation in the program is reviewed in the fourth and tenth month; if an offender's risk level has improved, the individual may move to a lower level of supervision.

RAND Corporation studies of ISPs in Oregon, Texas and Georgia found the following:

Day Reporting Centers

Day Reporting Centers (DRC) are highly structured non-residential programs in which supervision, sanctions and services are all coordinated from a central location. They provide a closely supervised transition for offenders into the community.

While programs vary in detail, in general offenders must physically report to the center on a daily basis, provide a schedule of their planned activities, and participate in designated programs, services, and activities. They must report by phone to the center throughout the day, and they can expect random phone checks by center staff during the day and at home following curfew.

Successful DRCs in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Jersey, Colorado and New Mexico. A National Institute of Justice survey found that in some programs offenders must contact the reporting center an average of 60 times per week and in all but one, must take random drug tests.7 Participation can be a condition of probation. In some instances, DRCs may be imposed as a sanction for probation violators, rather than returning them to prison. In some jurisdictions, DRCs are a step-down from a parole half-way house, or required as a form of supervised pre-trial release. Many DRCs simultaneously serve a mixed population consisting of probationers, parolees, and other individuals under some kind of criminal justice supervision.

There is considerable variety in the size of DRCs and the extent to which services are offered in-house or brokered through existing public and private community agencies. For example, AIC in Hartford, Connecticut, can handle 150 participants, provides all training programming on-site and supervises the average participant 120 days. The Metro DRC, in Boston, has a capacity of 50, makes extensive referrals to off-site programs, and supervises its offenders for an average or 42 days.

Privatization of Day Reporting Centers

The State of Colorado contracts with a private corrections corporation for its day reporting requirements. Currently approximately 1,500 of Colorado's felony, juvenile and misdemeanor offenders are under the supervision of Peregrine Day Reporting Centers.

The clientele includes all offenders who are not prison bound and are at high risk to commit additional crimes. The typical referral is a criminal who is under-educated, is under or unemployed, has a serious substance abuse problem and/or is becoming increasingly violent with family and/or friends. This type of offender is at high risk to re-offend and return to jail or prison.

Under the Colorado model, clients are generally sentenced to a DRC from 30 days up to two years. No alcohol or drug use is permitted at any time during an offender's treatment. Supervision and treatment is provided at one location, with the offender often paying for much of his own treatment. No housing is provided. The underlying philosophy is that the community and the offender are better served when the offender is living at home, working at productive employment, reporting daily for services and not interacting with other offenders.

Supervision basically consists of two forms of structured client contact: 1) a personal case manager responsible for monitoring and reporting the progress of the client and 2) monitoring, tracking and reporting systems.

In the event an offender fails to perform according to his/her sentencing order, referring agencies can respond immediately by imposing sanction for any misbehavior. When a client violates any program rule, the client's referring agency (court officer or correctional official) is immediately notified. Appropriate and timely sanctions are imposed to ensure client treatment, community service, or return to jail or prison.

Services provided by Colorado's contracting DRCs include the following:

The costs range from $10-$70 per month, with the high end providing a full services program.

Other examples of Day Reporting Centers include:

House Arrest and Home Confinement

Home arrest and confinement restricts an individual to his or her residence for specific periods of time. Such conditions may be one component of a sentence (for example, the curfew conditions of Intensive Supervision Programs), or may constitute an independent sanction popularly known as "house arrest." In most house arrest programs, offenders are permitted to leave their homes only for employment, medical needs, or such mandated assignments as community service.

In the spectrum of intermediate sanctions, house arrest is considered more punitive than intensive supervision. The emphasis is on confinement and the supervising officer's role is to ensure that the offender stays confined at home. There are three distinct versions of home confinement, each with a different degree of restricted freedom, offering a range of sanctions at the local level:

House arrest programs have been established in several states; those in Florida and Oklahoma are among the best known.

Florida's Community Control Program, established in 1983, is the largest and most widely known house arrest program in the country. The program had handled 20,000 offenders as of 1990 and has approximately 6,000 "community parolees" under supervision at any given time. Sentencing judges assign participants to the program. Three categories of offenders are eligible:

  1. Offenders convicted of nonviolent felonies;

  2. Probationers and parolees charged with technical or misdemeanor violations; and

  3. A flexible category of "others deemed appropriate" by the sentencing judge.
Community parolees must support themselves and their families, perform community service, pay restitution, pay supervision fees of $30-$50 per month, maintain a daily log of their activities and comply with restrictions on their movement. Surveillance is conducted by specially trained community control officers whose caseloads are limited to 20 offenders and who must make a minimum of 28 personal and collateral contacts with each offender per month. Florida's Community Control Program was initiated explicitly as an "alternative to incarceration." Current evaluation findings indicate that slightly over 50 percent of the offenders would otherwise have gone to prison, while the rest would have been placed on probation.

The Oklahoma house arrest program is a "back door" early jail\prison release program and deals with higher risk offenders. Since its initiation in 1984, well over 4,000 Oklahoma prisoners have been released early from prison into house arrest. Enabling legislation permits the Department of Correction to grant early release into house arrest for up to 15 percent of the total prison inmate population. Prisoners must serve 15 percent of their maximum sentence before being eligible, and must be within 27 months of discharge for a non-violent offense and 11 months of discharge for a violent offense. Sex offenders and those denied parole within the last six months are ineligible. Each house arrestee is supervised by a correctional case manager and a community correctional officer. Program participants have up to three random field contacts per week, regular meetings with their correctional officer and drug testing. They pay $45 per month in supervision fees and restitution. From October 1984, to October 1985, 2,404 offenders were released into the program; 67 percent completed their house arrest successfully, with only five percent failing because they committed new crimes.

The Los Angeles County Probation Department has successfully used home detention in conjunction with electronic monitoring to save the county over one million dollars in jail costs for approximately 400 offenders. 8 Offenders sentenced to home detention have lower rates of recidivism, cost much less than incarcerated offenders, and offer some prospects for rehabilitation. The key to success is to target the appropriate offenders, sentence them to surveillance and treatment, and quickly remove failures from the program in order to maintain public confidence. Home confinement sanctions are imposed more frequently for pre-sentence surveillance in conjunction with electronic monitoring than as a stand alone sanction.

Shock Incarceration/Boot Camp Programs

Shock Incarceration programs, popularly known as "boot camps," are one of the most publicized intermediate sanction programs. Programs vary in size, duration, location, control of entry (judiciary or department of corrections), the level of post-program supervision and in the level of training, education, or treatment programming provided. All are relatively brief (most are three to four months) and are designed for offenders who have not yet served time in a state prison. The programs draw on the model of a military boot camp. They stress strict discipline, obedience, regimentation, drill and ceremony, and physical conditioning, sometimes including manual labor. Shock programs participants are expected to learn self-discipline, teamwork and develop improved self-respect. Program participants are housed separately from the general prison population, although in some programs they are within sight and earshot of general population inmates.

Several state boot camp programs focus their efforts and program design on changing inmate behavior by means other than punishment and hard labor. Some advocates contend that changing inmate behavior should be the primary goal of all boot camp programs. New York is the leader in developing new program approaches which encourage behavior modification, and is regarded as a model by many states. New York's Shock Incarceration program has as its goals:

The New York program is run by the Department of Correctional Services in four shock incarceration facilities and has a total capacity of 1,390 beds for males and 180 beds for females. Participants are identified at entry into the prison system. Eligible offenders are offered the option of 6 months in a shock incarceration facility and 6 months on intensive parole instead of time in prison. Many offenders prefer the generally shorter prison term.

The New York boot camp program employs the therapeutic community model known as "Network." Network is based on the principles of control theory and Alcoholics Anonymous. Participants are organized in peer platoons, live in a community, participate in peer confrontation groups and life skills classes, and earn status and privileges that, in turn, allow them to serve as positive role models for others. The multi-treatment program emphasizes discipline, hard labor, education, substance abuse treatment, counseling and physical training.

Voluntary withdrawals and removals for disciplinary reasons are the most common reasons for not completing the program. Inmates subject to dismissal may remain in the program for several weeks for reevaluation, during which time their behavior and progress are closely monitored. Sixty-three percent of the inmates entering the program graduate. Voluntary withdrawals and removals for disciplinary reasons are the most common reasons for not completing the program.

Parolees participate in an intensive aftercare monitoring program for 6 months and complete the remainder of their sentence under parole supervision. The New York State Division of Parole operates the shock parole program. Since two-thirds of the camp graduates reside in New York City, a special, separate aftercare program has also been implemented there.

Shock program goals include: securing a job within a week of release; enrolling in an academic or vocational program within 2 weeks of release; participating in mandatory substance abuse counseling; and attending a community network program. Monitoring includes random urinalysis checks, curfew checks, employment and other verifications and home visits.

Shock graduates perform better on parole than a comparison group of inmates from minimum- or medium-security facilities. They have higher employment and higher enrollment in community programs at the 6-month mark than the comparison group. After a year, 90 percent of the shock group were in the community, and at 24 months 70 percent were still in the community.

The New York Correction Department estimates that for every 100 shock inmates released, $2.05 million is saved by the state. Thus, for the 8,842 inmates released under the program by September 1993, the department estimates a savings of $176.2 million. Savings from avoidance of capital construction costs for associated prison building were estimated to be another $129.1 million. Savings resulting from lower recidivism rates are estimated to be an additional $8.3 million.9

Louisiana has the oldest state boot camp program in the country. The Intensive Motivational Program of Alternative Correctional Treatment (IMPACT) has as its goals:

In order to participate, an offender must meet the following eligibility criteria:

In 1987, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections began operating a 136-bed military-style boot camp program at the medium-security Hunt Correctional Center (Up to 20 female slots are also available at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women; these inmates are bused to the boot camp daily). The 90- to 180-day program uses a three-phase approach to promote its philosophy of discipline and treatment. Regular program activities include military drill and ceremony training, physical training and organized recreational activities. Treatment programs include a re-education therapy class that requires participants to evaluate their beliefs and values, substance abuse education classes and activities, and prerelease (life skills) preparation.

Extra duty or incentive physical training are required for minor disciplinary infractions. More serious infractions may result in reduction in rank, additional duties, or, in some cases, dismissal from the program. About 55 percent of participants graduate from the program.

On release, all IMPACT parolees are assigned to 3 months of intensive parole supervision where, in addition to the regular conditions mandated for all parolees (maintain employment or full-time educational training), they must satisfy the following requirements: a minimum of 4 face-to-face contacts with a supervision officer each week, adherence to a curfew, 100 hours of unpaid community service work and random drug and alcohol screenings. After 3 months, supervision standards are gradually relaxed. Depending on individual performance, at the conclusion of this period, the parolee will continue receiving intensive supervision or is placed in regular parole supervision.

According to the Multi-State Evaluation of Shock Incarceration report to the National Institute of Justice, Louisiana is one of three states who's program results in lower recidivism rates relative to comparison groups. Failures are more often for technical violations of parole than for new crime violations. It is estimated that each 100 inmates completing the program result in a cost savings of $750,000 to the state.11

Electronic Monitoring

Electronic monitoring is a form of surveillance in which an electronic device is attached to an offender's body, warning the person that "someone is watching." Electronic monitoring allows for long distance surveillance of offenders by either passive or active devices. Passive devices operate via radio transmissions in a wrist or ankle bracelet. Active devices use telephone robotics and computerized random calls to an offender's residence.

Electronic monitoring is a component of many house arrest and ISP programs. Offenders may be sentenced directly to electronic monitoring, but some are placed on this sanction when jail crowding occurs, and others are placed on a monitor after violating a previous probation sanction. The average length of stay is between 45 and 60 days. Fees for supervision range from $7 to $10 per day.

The National Institute of Justice reports that the number of states using electronic monitoring devices as a sanction grew from 21 in 1987 to all fifty states in 1995. An estimated 50,000 offenders have been sentenced to this sanction (both presentence and sentenced offenders). Offenses include major traffic violations (particularly driving under the influence or while intoxicated), property crimes, sex and spousal abuse offenses, and drug violations.

There have been no large scale evaluations of electronic monitoring in part because there is no clear agreement on what electronic monitoring programs purport to accomplish. Recent small scale evaluations by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency suggest mixed results. The most promising study was of 346 offenders in 3 Oregon county electronic monitoring programs. The research found that low level drug offenders who were diverted from jails to monitoring programs exhibited less criminal behavior and re-offended less over a 12 month period than a control group supervised by standard methods.11

Community Residential/Restitution Centers

A Community Restitution Center is a residential facility that provides 24 hour supervision of non-violent offenders. The unique feature is that paychecks and all other earnings are surrendered directly to the center to pay restitution.

Offenders remain in restitution centers from 3 to 12 months, although courts have sentenced offenders for as long as 24 months. Some centers provide employment and educational opportunities, substance abuse treatment, and job skills training. community service may also be required. The goal is to facilitate the integration of offenders back into their local environments and to provide the skills which could allow the participants to avoid future criminality.12

Some of the Residential/Restitution Center variations include:

The Twin Counties Community Probation study in Michigan analyzed the re-arrest rate of offenders admitted to the program between July 1, 1988 and July 1, 1991. The program was restricted to male adults convicted of nonviolent crimes who were deemed to require tighter and more structured supervision than regular probation. all offenders received employment skills classes, basic life skills classes, substance abuse counseling, and vocational training. They were also required to perform 20 hours of community service and pay court costs and restitution to their victims. Stays at the center ranged from 1 to 11 months, for an average of 5 months.

Researchers analyzed data from Michigan Law Enforcement Information Network to trace the participating probationers. The results showed that 41 percent of the probationers were re-arrested within the study's 46-month time frame, nearly half for property crimes. Length of time in the program was the most significant factor associated with re-arrest. Offenders who spent more than three months in the program were less likely to be re-arrested than offenders who spent less than three months. In addition, offenders who abused drugs or alcohol were twice as likely to be re-arrested as non-abusers.13

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) examined four model residential probation centers in Oregon and found more positive outcomes. Oregon's day reporting centers offer relatively brief program stay (30-60 days) as an alternative sanction to jail or prison. Most participants are sentenced directly to the centers, while others complete jail sentences for parole or probation violations. Like Michigan's program , the centers offer drug and alcohol treatment, life skills classes, employment training and restitution. The NIJ compared participating offenders to a control group with similar risk characteristics over one year period. Researchers found that participants from the four probation centers has significantly fewer arrest incidents (1.18 vs. 1.44) and lower average arrests (1.08 vs. 1.31) than the control group. NIJ concluded that the probation centers were achieving their primary goal of diverting offenders from local jails, thereby reducing facility crowding. However, the program had little overall impact on subsequent jail, prison or probation sentences.14

Residential Treatment Centers

Residential Treatment Centers are facilities for persons who require long periods of structured supervision and supportive therapy for substance abuse or alcohol-related problems. The centers provide supervision, specialized services, and treatment to felony and misdemeanor offenders with alcohol and drug dependencies, mental impairments, and/or emotional problems. Typically one or more of these problems areas have contributed to the offender's criminal justice record. Treatment center staff regularly evaluate the offenders' behavior, attitude, and progress. All evaluations are filed with the sentencing judge.

An offender may be sentenced to a residential treatment program for 1 to 24 months. Judges also place offenders in treatment centers as a condition of pretrial release. In California, residential treatment programs are often a component of Drug Court programs in lieu of regular probation. Failure to complete the treatment usually results in a jail sentence.

The crack cocaine epidemic and increased enforcement of laws prohibiting drunk driving have motivated some states to re-prioritize their community corrections strategies. Some states (such as Texas, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, and Oregon) have made drug and alcohol treatment a major components of their community corrections sanctions. First time offenders must undergo varying degrees of risk assessment prior to sentencing to determine the required level of supervision and the intensity of drug or alcohol treatment. Repeat offenders who are sentenced to jail or prison must also be assessed and could be eligible for further treatment inside the jail or prison system.

Studies in Texas indicate that the longer an offender remains in and completes a treatment program (more than 3 months), the less the likelihood of recidivism.15 Studies of drug and alcohol treatment programs in Oregon and Michigan show similar results: reduced jail and probation and a reduction in future criminal arrests and convictions.16

Successful treatment programs are personnel intensive, highly structured and very costly. Private residential drug and alcohol treatment programs costs range from $55.00 per day per offender in Massachusetts to $61.00 in Colorado. Texas has invested in public treatment facilities which can cost as much as $80.00 per day per offender. In comparison, prison cost in California are about $60.00 per day and jail costs are about $55.00 per day.