CPOC Issue Brief: Graduated Sanctions - Strategies for Responding to Violations of Probation Supervision 

Probation’s balanced approach to offender supervision is necessary to meet its responsibilities of keeping the public safe, holding offenders accountable, and increasing the likelihood of offenders successfully reintegrating into the community. The use of intermediate sanctions is a key component of this balanced approach and has helped to reserve terms of incarceration for only serious violations of supervision. 

Violations of probation supervision can consist of new crimes, or a “technical violation”, such as not participating in treatment, or missing a meeting with the probation officer. By using a structured sanctioning and reward policy, probation departments can use an expanding array of evidence-based tools to ensure offender compliance, while maintaining offender engagement in programs and assisting in the process of positive behavior change. Probation Departments are responsible for the supervision of 413,000 people in California (Figure 1). Limited jail bed space throughout the state, coupled with the length of the revocation hearing process, underscores the need for a continuum of responses to technical violations. This does not diminish the responsibility of prosecuting new crimes or responding to breaches in offender compliance.

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