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Parole, Desistance from Crime, and Community Integration
urine sample for drug testing. Collateral contacts may also be made with the police, family members, employers, social service providers, school officials, or even neighbors. With check-in systems, parole officers rely on collateral contacts to verify that parolees are complying with conditions of release. The average parole caseload in the United States is 70 parolees to one parole officer.
Officers with caseloads under “intensive supervision” are responsible for fewer parolees (about 30), allowing more frequent contacts on the assumption that closer supervision will act as a greater deterrent because of the high likelihood of detecting more violations. In addition to more frequent contacts, individuals subject to intensive supervision parole frequently have special parole conditions (e.g., frequent drug testing, therapeutic drug treatment, electronic monitoring). Some parolees are placed on intensive supervision parole on the basis of a number of available classification schemes. One is a Salient Factor Score, which is determined by an offender’s criminal history and prison adjustment; another is the Client Management Classification System (for reviews, see Harris et al., 2004; Lattimore, 2006). Other parolees may be assigned to intensive supervision because of the severity of their most recent offense conviction or for particular types of offenses.
The main objective of intensive supervision parole is a reduction in recidivism for new crimes, but the available evidence suggests that this objective has not yet been achieved. A rigorous study by Petersilia and Turner (1993) of intensive supervision parole and probation programs in nine states, found that offenders in intensive supervision programs had relatively the same number of subsequent arrests, but more technical violations and returns to incarceration, than their nonintensive supervision program counterparts. However, if those programs combined drug treatment, community service, and employment programs with surveillance, recidivism rates were 10 to 20 percent lower than for those who did not participate in such activities. A meta-analysis of intensive supervision probation and parole programs also found that combining surveillance with treatment resulted in reduced recidivism (Gendreau and Little, 1993).
Electronic monitoring is used in some jurisdictions to complement or in lieu of traditional parole supervision. If a parolee leaves the area to which he or she is restricted, a signal is sent to a monitoring office or computer system. Again, in contrast to expectations and general belief, research shows that individuals on probation with electronic monitoring are no more or less likely to experience new arrests than those under standard supervision (Finn and Muirhead-Steves, 2002). Whether this would be the case with parolees is an empirical question.
Intensive supervision parole, with or without electronic monitoring, is more expensive than traditional parole supervision: about $8,000 and