BJA-Funded Swift Certain Fair Models
Swift Certain Fair (SCF) is an approach to community supervision that emphasizes swift, consistent, and proportionate responses to behaviors. This approach enhances the perception of fairness, essential to procedural justice. SCF implementations vary in accordance with local goals, resources, and constraints. With support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, many jurisdictions and supervision agencies are seeking to improve supervision strategies that reduce recidivism; promote and increase collaboration among agencies and officials who work in community corrections and related fields; enhance the perceptions, by all stakeholders, that supervision decisions are fair and consistently applied, and consequences are transparent; and improve the outcomes of individuals participating in these initiatives. The following efforts have received BJA support, including Training and Technical Assistance from the Swift Certain Fair Resource Center:
Alaska Department of Corrections
The Alaska DOC sought to expand its SCF pilot, Probationer Accountability with Certain Enforcement (PACE), which showed promise in its initial phase in Anchorage and Palmer, followed by legislation mandating statewide expansion (SB 64). The aim of PACE is to reduce recidivism through consistent responses to behaviors by all criminal justice agencies involved in community supervision. PACE probation has expanded to seven courts around the state, with three offices also implementing PACE for parole. More than 826 medium-and high-risk probationers and parolees with drug/alcohol conditions have participated in PACE. A 2011 evaluation found that positive drug tests declined by 2/3 in the first three months on PACE, compared with the preceding three months. A 2016 evaluation found that PACE probationers spent fewer than half as many days in jail as non-PACE probationers. A 2017 evaluation found that PACE probationers had a 22% lower recidivism rate, and that the benefit:cost ratio was 2.7:1.
Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles
The Alabama BPP sought to reduce its prison overcrowding, which was largely driven by revocations from probation and parole. ABPP implemented Alabama’s Certain Enforcement Supervision (ACES), following on the state’s participation in the Justice Reinvestment initiative and Act 2015-185, which gives ABPP officers the authority to impose swift, modest sanctions for technical violations of conditions of supervision. ACES employs this authority along with evidence-based practices to improve compliance among medium- and high-risk probationers convicted of drug or property crimes who are at risk of revocation. Now piloted in 15 counties, ACES has had almost 300 participants.
Colorado Department of Corrections
The Colorado DOC Division of Adult Parole sought to expand on its three-county Sure and Swift pilot for medium- and high-risk parolees. DAP uses brief jail sanctions for technical violations of parole supervision, but county jail beds are limited and are costly to DAP. DAP aims to reduce revocations under Sure and Swift by increasing the availability of jail beds, improving communications and streamlining processes, and integrating case management and evidence-based practices with sanctions. Sure and Swift has had more than 9,000 participants under its BJA award.
Judiciary of Guam
The Guam Judiciary Probation Services Division Adult Drug Unit seeks to reduce revocations of probationers convicted of drug offenses who are ineligible for drug court. The SCF implementation, involving all of Guam’s criminal justice agencies, will initially target twenty medium- and high-risk probationers who are at risk of revocation, employing modest sanctions, incentives for positive behavior, and adoption of a risk-needs-responsivity tool and other evidence-based practices.
Iowa First Judicial District
The Iowa First Judicial District (Black Hawk County) Department of Correctional Services, in concert with other county criminal justice agencies, seeks to improve outcomes of probationers by more effectively addressing their behaviors. The SCF initiative will allow probation officers to immediately address technical probation violations, with consistent and modest sanctions, before they amount to a cause for revocation. SCF will target 750 high-risk probationers with a history of drug use and probation violations, who are not on specialized supervision. The initiative will be subject to a process evaluation and a quasi-experimental evaluation of participant outcomes, compared with standard probation.
DeKalb County, Illinois
The DeKalb County Court Services Department seeks to improve probationers’ outcomes and reduce commitments to the Illinois Department of Corrections due to probation violations. The SCF initiative, involving all the county’s criminal justice agencies, promotes accountability by using SCF sanctions and structured incentives, along with the Effective Case Work model and other evidence-based practices. The initiative is a sentencing alternative that initially targets twenty high-risk participants on probation or conditional discharge who are facing revocation to DOC.
The Lummi Nation Court sought to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes of probationers convicted of a drug or alcohol offense. In concert with other Lummi Nation law-enforcement agencies and in partnership with the Whatcom Co. (WA) jail, the Lummi Chqinst Program (LCP) included 50 medium- and high-risk probationers. LCP is the first SCF implementation in Indian Country.
Baltimore Police Department
The Baltimore Police Department Community Collaboration Division and the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation seek to reduce the recidivism of young-adult males on probation and improve public safety. The SCF initiative will target felony probationers who live in high-crime “transformation zones” and are on the BPD “trigger puller” list or who have previously recidivated. SCF responses to behaviors will accompany case management and reentry services, for 225 clients per year. The initiative will be subject to a process evaluation and to a multi-arm randomized controlled trial assigning participants to different service providers.
Michigan Supreme Court
The Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Office sought to expand and improve its Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program (SSSPP). SSSPP is a demonstration program between SCAO and the Michigan Department of Corrections, funded by the legislature under 2012 Public Act 616 and with grants to 18 circuit courts, targeting high-risk probationers with a history of violations. The participant courts and DOC offices had been implementing SSSPP with a variety of approaches, and SCAO sought to make implementation more uniform and consistent with SCF principles, and to train all stakeholders. SSSSP has expanded to 26 counties with more than 1,000 participants. A 2015 study found that SSSPP participants were 36% less likely to reoffend than were comparable probationers on standard supervision.
New Hampshire Department of Justice
The New Hampshire DOJ sought to expand its New Hope probation pilot to Hillsborough County. The New Hampshire Department of Corrections’ Field Services Division Hillsborough Co. office and the Hillsborough County Superior Court North aimed to reduce revocations through the use of SCF sanctions along with reentry services, individualized case management, and drug-and-alcohol counseling provided by Keystone Hall. New Hope targeted 120 high-risk probationers.
New Jersey State Parole Board
The New Jersey State Parole Board seeks to address opioid addiction and the challenges it poses to successful completion of parole supervision. The SPJB SCF initiative will target 75 opioid-involved with a history of violations, employing behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatments, a recovery coach, and other services, through the New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC). An array of modest sanctions, including noncustodial sanctions, will be used in response to technical violations. The initiative will be evaluated with a randomized controlled trial, against supervision as usual.
New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision sought to transform the parolee supervision process, consistent with principles of procedural justice, and improve recidivism outcomes through a Recidivism Elimination Supervision Enhancement Teams (RESET) initiative. RESET entails SCF responses (sanctions and incentives) to behaviors, individualized case planning, and place-based supervision. RESET is being piloted in two parole bureaus, with 200 medium- and high-risk male participants. The initiative is being evaluated with a randomized controlled trial, against supervision as usual. An initial evaluation finds that RESET participants are 31% less likely to have had a warrant issued and 24% less likely to have been arrested.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Adult Parole Authority sought to reduce recidivism by persons under its supervision, which contributes to jail and prison crowding. The SCF initiative includes more than 400 persons on community-control supervision in four counties in which APA provides courtesy probation supervision. Participants are moderate or high risk, or low risk with a documented substance-abuse need. Each participating county employs a different sanctions mode: jail, electronic home monitoring, residential placement, and a day-reporting center. The day-reporting center pilot is being evaluated with a randomized controlled trial, against supervision as usual.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections (i)
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections sought to reduce recidivism and better allocate limited substance-abuse treatment resources. The SCF initiative targets high-risk persons who are under Oklahoma Community Sentencing, a statutory diversion program that rehabilitates through probation supervision and evidence-based practices, under the planning and guidance of Community Sentencing Councils in each county. Responses to technical violations include a range of non-custodial sanctions and brief jail stays. The initiative, with 432 participants in three counties, is being evaluated with a quasi-experimental design, comparing outcomes for participants with those for a matched comparison group of persons sentenced to Community Sentencing prior to the initiative.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ii)
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections seeks to improve outcomes of female probationers, to reduce the state’s rate of female incarceration, the nation’s highest. The Female Diversion-SCF (FD-SCF) initiative will introduce SCF principles, including behavioral triage, into the established Female Diversion Program in Tulsa County, which rehabilitates female offenders through community input and involvement, including individual and group counseling sessions and regular participation in support groups. FD-SCF will target 225 moderate- and high-risk women ordered to participate at the time of sentencing or in lieu of revocation, or with a history of violations. The initiative will be evaluated with a quasi-experimental design, comparing participants outcomes with those of a matched comparison group in the Oklahoma County Female Diversion Program.
Chester County, Pennsylvania
The Chester County Adult Probation and Parole Department, in concert with other stakeholders, sought to reduce the long delays to disposition of technical violations of conditions of supervision, and thereby improve accountability of persons under supervision and reduce revocations to the Department of Corrections. The Swift Alternative Violation Enforcement (SAVE) initiative included more than 100 high-risk, drug-involved probationers from the Chronic Substance Abuse Program (CSAP) and the general-population caseload, who are facing revocation. SAVE will be subject to a process evaluation and a quasi-experimental outcomes evaluation. An initial evaluation found that, after six-months in SAVE, participants were 84% more likely to be renting their own home, 83% more likely to be employed, 57% less likely to be using illegal drugs, and 41% less likely to have been arrested in the previous 30 days.
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole
The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections seeks to reduce revocations from parole by using intermediate sanctions that hold parolees accountable. The SCF initiative will target several hundred medium- and high-risk parolees in the Harrisburg District Office with substance-use violations. The initiative will be subject to two randomized controlled trials testing central concerns in SCF: the effect of sanctions type and severity on compliance under SCF and the appropriate role of drug-treatment mandates.
Hidalgo County, Texas
The Hidalgo County Community Supervision & Corrections Department seeks to reduce the high rate of recidivism of young adults under its supervision. The Hidalgo County Emerging Adult Strategy (HCEAS) targets 225 moderate- or high-risk probationers, aged 18–25, with at least two criminogenic needs. It employs SCF responses to behaviors and evidence-based practices geared towards the particular cognitive and social development, and criminogenic needs, of young adults. HCEAS entails specialized caseloads for probation officers trained in young-adult developmental and supervision issues, and individualized-management and supervision planning for participants, using the RNR Simulation Tool. HCEAS will be evaluated with a three-arm randomized controlled trial, comparing participant outcomes with those assigned to standard probation and to a specialty court.