U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Assessing the Earned Discharge Pilot Project: The Importance of Context, Capacity, and Content

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 11 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2012 Pages: 385-410
Sarah M. Smith; Marisa K. Omori; Susan F. Turner; Jesse Jannetta
Date Published
May 2012
26 pages
This article presents the results of an implementation analysis of the Earned Discharge pilot project in California's Division of Parole Operations.
The analysis of the implementation of the Earned Discharge pilot project in California's Division of Parole Operations found that the project ran into several significant obstacles that resulted in the project being downgraded from a program to a simulation exercise. The obstacles that the program encountered were: 1) a challenging political "context," which created barriers to adopting an Earned Discharge program in concordance with evidence-based standards; 2) the parole administration's limited "capacity" to provide strong leadership, and problems achieving agency-level coordination; and 3) a lack of stakeholder buy-in related to the "content" of the Earned Discharge program and the translation of initial program concepts into practice. The Earned Discharge pilot project was implemented by the State's Division of Parole Operations in 2007 with the aim of improving parolees' reentry outcomes. By offering early release as an incentive to low-risk offenders, program managers hoped to reallocate resources to enable provision of more services to higher-risk parolees. As indicated by the analysis discussed in this article, the implementation of the program did not go as planned due to the problems found with the context, capacity, and content of the program. The implications for policy are discussed.