Cover: Focusing on High Risk Parolees:  An Experiment to Reduce Commitments to the Texas Department of Corrections

Focusing on High Risk Parolees: An Experiment to Reduce Commitments to the Texas Department of Corrections

Published 2004

by Susan Turner, Joan R. Petersilia

Purchase Print Copy

Add to Cart Paperback28 pages Free

This study presents the results of a randomized experiment conducted to assess the effects of Intensive Supervision Parole (ISP), a Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles program whose primary objective was to help alleviate prison crowding. The evaluation assessed program implementation, as well as the program's impact on offenders and system costs. Overall, the ISP results were the opposite of what was intended. The study found that ISP was not associated with fewer arrests, even though ISP offenders received more contacts than offenders on routine supervision. ISP was associated with increased technical violations, particularly in Houston, where the ISP model was implemented more fully. At the end of one year, about 30% of all ISP participants were in prison, whereas this was the case with about 18% of those on routine parole. Instead of saving the State of Texas money, ISP supervision turned out to be 1.7 times the cost of routine parole. The ISP program did however constitute an appropriate intermediate punishment, also an important Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles objective. If jurisdictions are primarily interested in providing much-needed flexibility in sentencing decisions by imposing an intermediate punishment that more closely fits the crimes of offenders, then ISP holds promise. If, however, they are primarily interested in reducing recidivism and system costs, then ISP programs, as currently structured--with a focus on surveillance as opposed to treatment--will likely fall short.

Originally published in: Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, v. 29, no. 1, February 1992, pp. 34-61.

This report is part of the RAND reprint series. The Reprint was a product of RAND from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.