What Works Wednesdays: State Investment in Probation Associated with Lower Recidivism, Improved Safety
The California Probation Resource Institute (CaPRI) released a study conducted by respected expert Mia Bird who is a Visiting Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley and Ryken Grattet who is a Professor of Sociology at UC Davis. The report, titled, “SB 678 Incentive-Based Funding and Evidence-Based Practices Enacted by California Probation Are Associated with Lower Recidivism Rates and Improved Public Safety,” , analyzed the impact of SB 678 funding on county probation departments, adults under probation’s supervision, and community safety over the past ten years.
SB 678 was legislation passed in 2009 which established, for the first time, a state funding source for adult probation to provide resources that reduce caseloads and invest in evidence-based supervision and treatment interventions. The report states, “The legislation aligned county and state incentives toward the shared goals of maintaining public safety, reducing the size of the incarcerated population, and reducing correctional costs. The policy change also inspired greater collaboration among county level agencies and between probation departments and key state agencies, including the Judicial Council of California (JCC) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).”
To download the report and fact sheet click here.
The report examined the history and goals of SB 678, and assessed the impacts of this policy change on key criminal justice outcomes. The researchers found a significant reduction in prison revocation, increased funding to probation departments, a culture-change within probation departments, and a decrease of both property and violent crimes. Specific findings include:
SB 678 reduced prison revocations by more than 30%
after the second year of implementation. Relative
to the baseline rate, prison revocations declined by more than
23% in the first year following the implementation of SB 678.
By year two, the legislation had achieved more than a 30%
reduction in revocations.
SB 678 reduced the prison population by more than
6,000 in the first year of implementation. Within
the first year, the prison population was reduced by more than
6,000 inmates and this trend continued into the second year of
the program. With the implementation of Realignment, the prison
population declined dramatically due to structural changes in
eligibility for sentencing and revocation to
SB 678 reduced state correctional expenditures by
over $1 billion since implementation. In just the
first year of implementation, SB 678 reduced state prison
expenditures by an estimated $179 million. Over the full
period, the state is estimated to have saved over $1
SB 678 did not lead to increases in crime rates
including property crimes and violent crime
rates. In the two years following the
implementation of the legislation, property and violent crime
rates declined. In later years, following Realignment and
Proposition 47, crime rates fluctuated. By 2018, property
crimes rates were substantially lower and violent crime rates
were slightly lower than in 2008, the year prior to the
implementation of SB 678.
SB 678 transformed the culture of probation
departments and led to substantial increases in the use of
evidence-based practices. The vast majority of
probation departments now use evidence-based practices,
including risk and needs assessment, supervision strategies,
collaboration with other agencies, and programmatic
interventions. The culture of probation departments has shifted
from a law-enforcement orientation to a hybrid orientation that
strategically balances the priorities of enforcement and social
work interventions. Program capacity has also expanded, with
most probation officers reporting that there is sufficient
program capacity for evidence-based practice.
- Increased cross-agency collaboration: The policy-change increased collaboration among county level agencies and between probation departments and key state agencies, including the Judicial Council of California (JCC) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).