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Probation Supervision Doesn't Cut Recidivism, Must Be Improved





Far more people are under community supervision, outside of jails and prisons, as punishment for criminal offenses, than are behind bars.


Despite the guidance, support, and oversight that community supervision aims to provide, these populations are struggling, write Jennifer Doleac of Texas A&M University and Michael LaForest of Penn State University in a new series of papers on research, public safety and justice reform published by Arnold Ventures.


Recidivism and unemployment rates are exceedingly high among those previously convicted. About 71 percent of those released from prison are re-arrested within five years of release, 46 percent return to prison within five years of release and 55 percent are unemployed eight months after release.


To help improve post-conviction outcomes and public safety, policymakers need clear evidence about the effects of community supervision programs and how to make them better.


Existing evidence suggests that increasing the intensity of community supervision does not reduce recidivism, and many targeted supervision requirements do not appear beneficial either. Are there aspects of other successful community programs that could be integrated into community supervision, to reduce recidivism and improve public safety?