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Reducing Recidivism and Improving Programming in the San Francisco Adult Probation Department

NCJ Number
Amy Murphy; Stephanie A Maass; Sharmistha Chowdhury; Faye S. Taxman
Date Published
September 2017
24 pages
This report reviews the reforms achieved by the San Francisco Adult Probation Department (APD) under California's Public Safety Realignment Assembly Bill (AB 109), which provides new funding to jurisdictions to expand their county probation services.
The basis for the expanded county probation services is a provision in AB 109 requiring that individuals serving prison sentences for non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offenses be released early to receive community corrections supervision. The APD implemented a number of probation reforms to adapt to this new set of clients. In 2014, George Mason University's Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence (ACE!) and APD collaborated to implement the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) Simulation Tool. This is a decision-support tool designed to advance the use of evidence-based practices (EBPs) that reduce recidivism by probationers. This reform effort included the following five components: 1) use of validated risk and need assessment tools; 2) targeting key risk and needs assessment factors in case plans; 3) providing appropriate interventions and programs based on the dynamic risk factors that affect criminal behavior; 4) the use of swift and certain responses to both positive behaviors and non-compliant behaviors; and 5) creation of an environment in which the relationship between the probation officer and probationer can facilitate behavioral change. In implementing these components, the APD participated in the pilot program entitled Skills for Offender Assessment and Responsivity in New Goals (SOARING2) and ACE's! eLearning system. The RNR Simulation Tool was also used. This report describes the characteristics of the APD probationers, assessment of the programming needs of the probation population, and assessment of the jurisdiction's capacity tool.