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Improving Community Supervision Outcomes Through Swift, Certain, and Fair Responses

Overview

The purpose of the Swift, Certain, and Fair (SCF) Initiative is to provide state, local, and tribal community supervision agencies with information, resources, and training and technical assistance (TTA) to engage in collaborative problem-solving with stakeholders using data and research-informed strategies to assess and improve responses to client behavior in accordance with the principles of swiftness, certainty, and fairness; improve supervision outcomes; prevent recidivism; and reduce crime in their jurisdictions.

The SCF principles are:

  • Swiftness—responding to behavior promptly so that people under supervision connect the response to their behavior.
  • Certainty—ensuring that sanctions and rewards are applied with consistency and predictability.
  • Fairness—making sanctions proportionate to negative behavior and rewards appropriate to positive behavior.

The SCF Initiative supports agencies interested in developing and testing new or enhanced implementations of SCF responses to people under community supervision through a data-driven, collaborative process informed by research and responsive to local circumstances. Agencies receive assistance in coordinating with stakeholders to collaboratively identify client behaviors to target with SCF responses to improve supervision outcomes; using data to understand the usual responses to clients’ behaviors (positive and negative); adapting policies and practices to align with the SCF principles; measuring the impact of the innovations and changes made to these policies and practices; engaging in ongoing process improvement; and building the capacity to sustain their implementation of the SCF principles.

The objectives of the SCF initiative are to:

  • Develop and implement supervision strategies based on SCF principles, including responses to both positive and negative client behaviors.
  • Reduce crime committed by, and improve outcomes for, people under supervision.
  • Identify a target population for the SCF initiative using a collaborative, data-driven process that is responsive to local circumstances.
  • Evaluate the efficacy of SCF strategies to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for people under community supervision.
  • Increase the number of supervision decisions that are fair and consistently applied, and with consequences that are transparent.
  • Promote and increase collaboration among agencies and officials who work in community supervision, courts, law enforcement, treatment, reentry, and related fields.
  • Develop a plan to sustain effective SCF supervision strategies and related collaborations beyond the award period.
  • Increase participant perceptions of fairness, consistency, and transparency in supervision decisions.

Applying the SCF Principles in Diverse Settings

SCF projects may be led by diverse stakeholders (courts, community supervision agencies, state or local corrections agencies, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutor’s offices) to address a variety of public safety challenges at the state and local levels.

Implementation of the SCF principles may be applied to many different criminal justice populations including, for example, people under pretrial supervision, probationers and parolees who are high- and moderate-risk to reoffend, people on probation for misdemeanor domestic-violence offenses, young-adult probation clients, female probation clients, and parolees with opioid use disorder, using a variety of responses to deter unwanted behavior and incentivize positive behavior. Common sanctions include community service, increased drug testing, curfew, increased or modified reporting, electronic monitoring, home detention, and brief jail stays in the case of more-serious misbehaviors. Common rewards include verbal praise, letters of recommendation or recognition, reduced drug testing, reduced reporting, reduced supervision fees, reduced mandatory community service, and early termination from supervision.

Every jurisdiction has a unique set of circumstances—problems, environments, and resources—and those differences should be reflected in design decisions. For example, the target population, type of recidivism or outcome, time from client behavior to intervention, types of rewards and sanctions available, and the level of collaboration with justice partners (e.g., parole boards and courts) vary by jurisdiction, so their starting points, proposed activities, and target outcomes should vary as well. Also, program design and implementation should incorporate stakeholder input (which includes the perspectives of people under supervision) to yield locally-conceived and implemented SCF initiatives that comport with perceptions of fairness.

For examples of previously funded SCF projects, visit scfcenter.org/programs/.

Date Created: February 26, 2018