Written by: Miriam Northcutt Bohmert & Leslie Wells
The Center for Health and Justice Research at the IU Public Policy recently released its latest project, focusing on probation revocations in Monroe County, Indiana. O’Neill Associate Professor Eric Grommon and IU Associate Professor Miriam Northcutt Bohmert worked with George Mason University’s Evan Lowder to examine what causes probations to be revoked and how to reduce those revocations.
The research team worked with Monroe County Circuit Court Probation on the project. The county participates in the Reducing Revocations Challenge, a national initiative of Arnold Ventures and the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance. The goal is to transform probation and reduce mass incarceration by increasing probation success. That includes identifying, piloting, and testing promising strategies grounded in a robust analysis and understanding of why revocations occur.
Researchers looked at electronic data, reviewed individual case files, and interviewed stakeholders and clients. This allowed the team to dive deep into policy and practice, exploring the impact of a wide range of factors that affect who receives a violation and/or has their probation revoked and why. These reasons can include supervision conditions and parameters, perceived risk, and the nature of the noncompliance. They also examined client characteristics that are more likely to be associated with violations and/or revocations, such as gender, race, and ethnicity.
Key findings from this research include:
- Less than half of probation clients (43%) receive a formal petition to revoke their supervision.
- Black clients are 2.5 times more likely than white clients to have a violation filed with the court, but they are no more likely to have their probation terminated and be sent to jail.
- About 3% of clients drive the overall revocation rate. This group had repeated or recurrent patterns of noncompliance over relatively long portions of their supervision term.
- New offenses are the most prominent driver of revocation and violation rates, followed by failing to appear for appointments and failing drug screens.
- The use of incentives by probation officers reduces clients’ rates of revocation.
These and other findings from the research are being used to develop targeted solutions that aim to improve success on probation and/or reduce the broader footprint of supervision by addressing the key drivers uncovered.
To read the reports and policy briefs, visit the IU Public Policy Institute’s project research page at this link.