Sen. Hutchinson spent much of his time before the committee on Wednesday highlighting SB 136’s most consequential and controversial piece — a plan to send parolees and probationers to a community correction facilities when they commit relatively small violations of the terms of their supervision.
“We don’t have enough tools in our quiver of arrows to really manage and control this population,” Hutchinson said of probationers and parolees. The only means currently available is revocation of probation or parole, which is not widely effective, he said.
According to Justice Center analysis, in FY2015, of the more than 10,000 people admitted to prison during that time, almost 7,200 were people who had their parole or probation revoked. Forty-seven percent of those parole violators and 35 percent of those probation violators did not have a new felony arrest while under supervision. On average, that group of parole violators spent 9 months in prison and that group of probation violators spent 11 months.
SB 136 would employ swift and certain sanctioning, where parolees and probationers who fail a drug test, break curfew or commit another minor violation of the terms of their supervision would be sent to a community correction facility. There they would get rehabilitative programming for up to 90 days or as few as 45 days if they received the maximum amount of credit for good behavior. After three trips to a community correction facility, a person under supervision who committed a new violation would be subject to having their parole or probation revoked and would likely go to prison. A similar arrangement would apply to those parolees or probationers who commit a nonviolent or nonsexual misdemeanor, but they would be required to stay 180 days — or as few as 90 days if they are credited for good behavior — and would be subject to revocation after their second stint.
Sen. Hutchinson said the new plan would free up 1,600 prison beds. “That’s the equivalent of a huge new prison. Now we have a lot more beds for people who need to do be there and are threats to society.”