Is Alaska SB91 working? A new report says it’s helping.
Sanctions and Incentives
Parole and probation officers now use a system of administrative sanctions and incentives to facilitate prompt and effective responses to compliance with or violations of conditions of supervision. The administrative sanctions are used before filing a petition with the court or the parole board to revoke probation or parole. The sanctions are designed to be swift, certain, and proportionate to the transgression; this is an evidence-based practice that studies show is more effective in encouraging course correction.
Incentives are available for those who meet case-specific goals of supervision. Research shows that providing rewards and incentives enhances individual motivation, and individuals on supervision are more successful (fewer violations, less recidivism) when rewards outnumber sanctions.
Petitions to Revoke Probation or Parole Have Decreased
Thus far, it seems that these changes have been successful; since the changes to probation and parole became effective in January 2017, the number of petitions to revoke probation and/or parole has decreased.
The majority of petitions to revoke probation or parole were for technical violations rather than new crimes. The most common violation was violation of a condition not to abuse drugs or alcohol, or a condition to get regular drug or alcohol tests, reflecting that substance use disorders remain pervasive among Alaska’s justice-involved population.
Average Lengths of Stay for a Technical Violation Have Decreased
The caps on the length of stay for technical violations also have been effective, reducing the average length of stay for a technical violation…(Here, “sentenced” and “unsentenced” refer to whether the person charged with a violation has had a hearing before a judge or a hearing before the parole board.)
This post-reform decrease in the length of incarceration terms for supervision violators likely contributed to the overall decrease in supervision violators in prison…