U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Community Supervision Strategies: Making Probation and Parole More Effective

© Ermolaev Alexander/Shutterstock.com (see reuse policy).
Street scene showing brownstones, sidewalk, and cars
© Timur Djafarov/Shutterstock (see reuse policy).

When people are released from jail or prison, supervision programs such as probation and parole are intended to help them successfully reenter the community. Supporting people on community supervision is vital to ensuring a successful transition from incarceration and reentry to their communities.

The Community Supervision Strategies (CSS) grant program, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), provides funding to enhance community supervision agencies’ capacity to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for people on supervision.

The CSS grant program helps state, local, and tribal community supervision agencies redesign their systems to establish new partnerships and reduce the number of people who return to custody. CSS allows jurisdictions to establish new community courts, expand probation programs, increase access to services such as housing assistance and behavioral health treatment, and craft comprehensive approaches to supervising adults indicted on felony charges.

When the CSS grant program began, corrections experts had already noted the high rate at which people on community supervision returned to incarceration, and many believed that improvements in the probation and parole system could help improve outcomes and reduce returns to incarceration.

BJA first supported jurisdictions seeking to implement swift, certain, and fair programs in FY 2011. Over time, BJA established the Swift, Certain, and Fair (SCF) Supervision Program, with the program’s goal to identify people who committed particular types of offenses or have common challenges, such as substance use, and develop supervision programs that make them less likely to reoffend. Over the past 15 years, BJA awarded 44 grants that total $30.7 million to state and local agencies and research organizations to improve community supervision services.

Past examples include:

  • The Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas received an SCF grant in 2020 for its Violence Intervention Program, which focuses on people charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. Individuals who complete the rigorous requirements of the program have their cases dismissed, which removes a potential felony conviction from their record.
  • DeKalb County (Illinois) Court Services received three SCF grants (in 2016, 2020, and 2023) to implement a sentencing alternative and last-chance option for people on probation facing incarceration due to technical violations. Many participants with long, unsuccessful histories of justice involvement have completed this program and remain safely in the community.
  • The Hidalgo County (Texas) Community Supervision and Corrections Department received an SCF grant in 2016 for its “Emerging Adults Strategy,” which focuses on people aged 18 through 25 who are on probation and are at moderate or high risk of recidivism. A randomized controlled trial found that participants had fewer arrests, failures to appear, and motions to revoke than did their peers on standard probation.

In 2024, BJA will award up to $4.5 million through the CSS program. BJA encourages state, local, and tribal community supervision agencies to apply for CSS program funding.

The CSS grant program was renamed Community Supervision Strategies in fiscal year 2024 to reflect the evolving focus of the initiative, which funds a wide variety of innovative community supervision programs across the country. The grant is available to state, local and tribal agencies that intend to reduce recidivism among, and improve outcomes for, people under supervision by using one or more of the swift, certain, and fair principles of intervention.

To learn more about the CSS grant program or to apply for funding, visit the FY24 opportunity webpage.

Subscribe to receive updates about BJA programs and funding opportunities.


Date Published: April 5, 2024