Louisiana’s Justice Reinvestment Reforms: 2020 Annual Performance Report
Accomplishment 10: Responding to violations with swift, certain, and proportional sanctions. Another goal of the JRI legislation was to increase the use of “swift and certain” administrative sanctions when responding to the technical violations of people on supervision for nonviolent offenses, and to limit the length of jail sanctions when they are used. This goal was created in compliance with a body of research that shows sanctions are most effective at reducing recidivism and changing behavior when they are swift, certain, and proportional to the behavior. To accomplish this goal, Act 280 establishes a greater range of swift, certain, and proportional sanctions for supervision violations.
If an individual convicted of a nonviolent, non-sex offense violates the conditions of their supervision, there are a range of sanction options their supervising officer may use, depending on the type and severity of the violation and how many previous violations they had committed.
Since the implementation of JRI, the number of administrative jail sanctions officers have used has continued to drop. In 2019, P&P officers imposed 42.6% fewer administrative jail sanctions than in 2016; however, the average days imposed increased slightly from 4.7 days to 5.5 days. This is likely driven by a large drop in the number of administrative jail sanctions used to respond to Level 1 violations, a result of Act 280’s limits on the use of jail sanctions and the creation of ECC’s/ forfeiture of earned compliance credits as a possible sanction.
Prior to JRI, jail sanctions for technical violations (“intermediate jail sanctions”) were capped at 90 days for the first sanction, and at 120 and 180 days for a second or subsequent sanction, respectively.31 Act 280 of 2017 authorized an unlimited number of jail sanctions for technical violations (meaning a person could not be fully revoked for these violation regardless of number of time), and also capped the length of the jail stay at 15 days, 30 days, and 45 days for the first, second, and subsequent violations. As a result of these changes, the average number of days spent in custody decreased substantially from 67 days to 19 days in 2019.
During the 2018 legislative session, and at the request of the District Attorneys, Judges, and Division of Probation and Parole, these provisions were modified to allow for the possibility of a full revocation after 4th and subsequent technical violations. The purpose of this change was to ensure that the intended effectiveness of intermediate sanctions for technical violations but also still allow for stronger measures if such behavior continued to occur.
In addition, the number of full revocations across probation and parole for non-criminal violations of supervision also decreased by 2.2%[;] full revocations were used most often for new criminal activity.