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Decade of Experimenting With Intermediate Sanctions: What Have We Learned?

NCJ Number
J Petersilia
Date Published
0 pages
This video lecture traces the history of the development of intermediate sanctioning programs (ISP), reviews the results of ISP evaluations, and examines whether or not ISP evaluation findings have influenced criminal justice policy.
The interest in ISP stemmed largely from prison overcrowding and court actions that required State corrections systems to remedy debilitating prison conditions that derived largely from prison overcrowding. This led States to pursue less costly alternatives to incarceration, including intensive probation, home detention, electronic surveillance, and community-based residential programs. ISP evaluation findings showed, however, that intermediate sanctions were not being used with offenders who formerly had been incarcerated, but rather with high-risk offenders who had traditionally been given probation. Further, relatively few offenders were sentenced to intermediate sanctions, and relatively little money was spent on such sanctions. Evaluation findings did show that when sufficient resources were committed to both intensive surveillance and treatment, a program was cost-effective. This suggests that when intermediate sanctions adopt this format and are appropriately funded, there can be a 10- to 20-percent reduction in recidivism. There is some indication that these research findings are influencing criminal justice policy, as there is an increasing emphasis on community-based corrections that includes community involvement in the supervision and treatment of offenders. Audience questions following the lecture are included on the video.