California Leading the Way on Reforms Recommended in the Latest Pew Research Study on National Probation and Parole Policies
California Probation has Long-Adopted Many of the Recommendations in Pew’s Latest Report with Proven Positive Results to Reduce Recidivism Rates


Sacramento, CA, April 23, 2020 – Today, The Pew Charitable Trusts released its new report entitled “Policy Reforms Can Strengthen Community Supervision” that included recommendations for states to enhance evidence-based policies. California probation has long been on the forefront having implemented many of the recommendations over the last decade. The Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC) has advocated for and supported the implementation of evidence-based programs designed to intervene with substance abuse and behavioral health challenges, to improve long-term positive outcomes for clients and thereby maintaining community safety.

“For over a decade, California probation departments have been leading with proven practices that have changed the culture of probation, maintaining our focus equally on accountability and rehabilitation through evidence-based practices,” said Chief Brian Richart, President of Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC). “The new Pew study’s recommendations demonstrate what we experience every day as we carry out evidence-based practices balancing rehabilitation and holistic supports for individuals. Our experience is that the individualized relationships and supports provided by our staff are the most direct route to changing people’s lives and reducing the cycle of crime which makes our communities safer.”

Specifically, the Pew study highlighted that probation and parole departments across the country need to adopt evidenced-based practices with a focus on rehabilitation which is consistent with the reforms in which California Probation engaged over a decade ago.

For example, California probation has implemented “evidence-based policies centered on risks and needs.” The recommendation is aligned with reforms county probation departments adopted years ago and have proven to be successful. Specifically, Pew explains: “Evidence-based decision-making is the foundation of effective supervision, and its essential components are the principles of risk, need, and responsivity (RNR)—an assessment methodology that enables parole and probation officers to develop case plans tailored to individuals’ needs with consideration for their risk to reoffend. When these principles guide supervision operations, outcomes improve.”  This approach is implemented and experienced daily in California probation departments.

An example of this in California is SB 678. Passed in 2009, it provided the resources needed to implement evidence-based practices that focused on the individual and reduced caseloads similar to the Pew study’s recommendation. This resulted in reducing the prison population by more than 6,000 in the first year of implementation and reduced prison revocations by more than 30% after the second year of implementation. It also resulted in a reduction of state correctional expenditures by over one billion dollars in savings since implementation.

Another recommendation in the Pew study advocates for adopting “shorter supervision sentences and focus on goals and incentives.” This is consistent with Governor Newsom’s budget proposal this year, which CPOC has voiced support for, which would reduce probation terms and frontload services to best end the cycle of crime. This policy is based on similar research that is highlighted in the Pew study that demonstrates that long supervision sentences have diminishing benefits.

Recently, the California Probation Resource Institute released its report: SB 678
Incentive-Based Funding and Evidence-Based Practices Enacted by California Probation Are Associated with Lower Recidivism Rates and Improved Public Safety
which highlights some of the results since California Probation adopted evidence-based practices focusing on the individual client. Since the policy change, the report found a significant reduction in prison revocations, a culture-change within probation departments, and a decrease in property and violent crimes.

Media Contact: Laura Dixon at or 510-384-3020.