Managing Compliance: Graduated Responses or Now Known As Swift, Certain, and Fair (SCF)
For nearly three decades, graduated sanctions have been recommended as a means to address noncompliance behavior in justice settings. Overall, the research literature is mixed on the findings—with some studies that find some effectiveness and others that do not. It appears that the mixed findings are due to a number of issues including research design, implementation of the graduated sanctions grids, contextual factors, organizational factors, and so on. Graduated sanctions refer to providing swift and certain responses to noncompliance behaviors such as positive drug tests, moving without permission, nonattendance at required supervision and/or treatment sessions, and a myriad of other actions. Noncompliance is a significant issue in corrections given that accountability is based on the premise of adhering to rules is part of becoming prosocial. To create a more procedurally just environment, a graduated response approach is recommended as it provides officers with a menu of options to deal with different types of behaviors. The graduated response also assesses the severity of the noncompliant behavior and provides a response pattern that is proportional to the behavior.
Responses to noncompliance among justice-involved individuals, along with facilitating compliance, are important issues for the justice system. Noncompliance complicates matters and often requires a justice response which usually involves various forms of punishment. The question of whether a focus on incentives will yield greater outcomes, and that question is critical to answer.