Administrative sanctions are penalties for noncompliance with supervision rules that typically can be directed by an agent, without authority from a judge or parole board. These sanctions can include increased reporting, imposition of a curfew, or, in some jurisdictions, short jail stays. Across the country, more than 20 states have adopted an “administrative response grid” for technical violations. These grids aim to outline proportionate sanctions, other than incarceration, for responding to noncompliant behavior and sometimes list incentives as well. Idaho, for instance, passed legislation in 2014 requiring the state Board of Correction to establish a matrix of “swift, certain, and graduated sanctions and rewards” that officers can impose without a hearing. The board developed a list of approved sanctions that included community service, increased reporting, and establishment of a curfew, while rewards can include decreased reporting and transfer to administrative supervision. Oklahoma similarly required its Department of Corrections to develop a grid of sanctions to address probation violations.
In South Carolina, the 2010 Sentencing Reform Act (SB 1154) included enhancements to the use of administrative sanctions—such as verbal or written reprimands—for technical violations as an alternative to incarceration. An evaluation of this change found several positive outcomes, including increased use of administrative sanctions, a 46 percent decline in the number of revocations, and a decrease in the proportion of people incarcerated during the first year of supervision, from 10 percent for the fiscal year 2010 cohort to less than 5 percent among the fiscal 2014 cohort. Even after controlling for demographic and case-specific characteristics, people who began their supervision after implementation of SB 1154 were 33 percent less likely than previous cohorts to be incarcerated after one year.