POLICY OPTION 6: Improve parole supervision.
B. Allow parole officers to use swift and certain sanctions in response to supervision violations.
Currently, if a person violates a condition of his or her parole, parole officers may respond in a variety of ways. For example, they can issue a written warning, impose a curfew, require participation in a treatment program, or revoke the person’s supervision and place him or her in a parole violator center. The parole officer’s response would depend on the seriousness and frequency of the violations. However, current statutes do not allow parole officers to use swift, certain, and proportionate confinement sanctions for technical parole violations. Without this option, parole officers are limited in their ability to help change the behavior of the people they supervise and reduce recidivism.
This policy option allows officers to use short sanctions of incarceration as a response to technical parole violations. Research shows that using immediate sanctions of brief periods of incarceration in response to violations helps change the behavior of people on supervision better than lengthy sanctions imposed long after the violation. Swift, certain, and proportionate sanctions for violations can increase compliance with the conditions of supervision, because people on supervision see the response as a direct consequence of their behavior and are therefore more likely to change future behavior. If a sanction is carried out immediately after a violation, punishments as short as one or two days have been shown to improve behavior. As behavior improves, incarceration costs for people who violate their supervision decrease. For example, in 2011, North Carolina enabled its probation officers to respond to violations with short confinement sanctions. As a result, probation revocations to prison fell by more than half between 2011 and 2014.