Responding to Substance-Use-Related Probation and Parole Violations: Are Enhanced Treatment Sanctions Preferable to Jail Sanctions?
More recently, the use of sanctions—and particularly jail sanctions—has become more commonly used in applied community corrections. Much of the increase in the use of jail as a sanctioning means is attributable to the emergence of the swift, certain, and fair (SCF) sanctioning approach. The SCF sanctioning model, which is patterned after the well-known HOPE program in Hawaii, is a deterrent-based strategy that emphasizes the imposition of immediate and certain sanctions, normally in the form of short jail sentences, as a means to dissuade substance abuse behaviors in probation and parole caseloads (Kleiman, Kilmer, & Fisher, 2014). Due to the frequency of substance-use-related violations in everyday community- based corrections, this study’s focus on jail sanctions should be able to speak to the SCF’s common approach of swift and certain jail-based sanctioning.
Research on the use of graduated sanctions has shown success across a variety of outcomes, including increased offender compliance and reduced revocation rates (Grommon, Cox, Davidson, & Bynum, 2013; Hamilton, Campbell, van Wormer, Kigerl, & Posey, 2016; Hawken & Kleiman, 2009; Kilmer, Nicosia, Heaton, & Midgette, 2013; Steiner, Makarios, Travis, & Meade, 2012; Wodahl, Garland, Culhane, & McCarty, 2011). Hawken and Kleiman (2009) often cited evaluation of the Hawaii HOPE program, for example, found that sanctions administered under the SCF framework were associated with fewer missed appointments, fewer failed drug tests, and lower recidivism rates. Two recent studies, however, raise doubts about the effectiveness of sanctions in community supervision. Lattimore et al. (2016) evaluation of SCF sanctioning programs at four sites found that sanctions were largely ineffective and in some cases produced iatrogenic effects, including increased likelihood of revocation and recidivism. Similar findings were reported in O’Connell and associates’ evaluation of an SCF sanction program in Delaware (O’Connell, Brent, & Visher, 2016). These recent studies have led some to question regarding whether SCF sanctioning programs can really be considered an evidence-based practice (Cullen, Pratt, & Turanovic, 2016).
Despite this finding and adjoining policy recommendation, it is important to keep in mind that results similar to these would need to be replicated prior to changing criminal justice procedures. Further emphasizing this point, we are unable to specifically investigate the casual mechanism driving this non-significant main effect for jail sanction (a point to which we return in the discussion of this study’s limitations).