Evaluating Intensive Supervision Probation/Parole (ISP) for Drug Offenders

by Joan R. Petersilia, Elizabeth Deschenes

This article, reprinted from Crime and Delinquency, reports results from a randomized field experiment testing the effects of intensive supervision probation/parole (ISP) for drug-involved offenders. The ISP demonstration project, funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, included five jurisdictions: Contra Costa, California; Seattle, Washington; Des Moines, Iowa; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Winchester, Virginia. Jurisdictions developed ISP programs tailored to their own contexts, using the ISP model developed by Georgia and New Jersey in the early 1980s. Results show that ISP offenders were seen more often, submitted more often to drug testing, received more drug counseling, and had higher levels of employment than their counterparts on routine probation/parole supervision. With respect to 1-year recidivism outcomes, a higher proportion of ISP offenders had technical violations (primarily for drug use), but there was no difference between the two study groups in new criminal arrests. At the end of the 1-year follow-up, more ISP offenders had been placed in jail or prison (mostly for technical violations). This policy drove up system costs, which for ISP averaged just under $8,000 per year per offender versus about $5,500 per year per offender for routine supervision. The article concludes with a discussion of how these results can be used to inform future ISP research and policy discussions.

Originally published in: Crime and Delinquency, v. 38, no. 4, October 1992, pp. 539-556.

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