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Supervision Fees: State Policies and Practice

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 76 Issue: 1 Dated: June 2012 Pages: 40-45
Paul Peterson
Date Published
June 2012
6 pages
After reviewing the national policy trends that accompanied the explosive adoption of probation and parole supervision fees in the United States since the 1980s, this article suggests areas for re-evaluation and reform.
In the 1980s, the growth in supervision fees was "unplanned...created and imposed without any policy foundation" according to Mullaney in "Economic Sanctions in Community Corrections" (1988). A few limited studies were conducted toward the end of the decade, but for the most part they focused on identifying potential issues and compiling various subjective opinions about fees. In 1990, a publication of the National Institute of Justice entitled "Recovering Correctional Costs Through Offender Fees," by Dale Parent set the tone for the development of supervision fees in almost every jurisdiction. A report by the Council of State Governments Justice Center countered Parent's recommendations by advising that successful reentry, child welfare payments, and restitution be prioritized over fees. In 2010, a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy law institute at New York University School of Law, presented the most complete research of any study on the topic; it criticizes the supervisory fee system. Each of the stages in the evolution and policy stages regarding supervisory fees are examined in detail. This article concludes that all discussion of fees, their collection, and their effects on budgets and offenders is impeded by a lack of well-designed studies, which has resulted in a lack of reliable data. Studies should examine all relevant factors and potential impacts of supervisory fees, particularly as they affect child care, restitution payments, reentry success rates, the entirety of collection costs, and the proximate cause of arrests or jail-time needs. Issues that should be addressed if a supervisory fee system is installed are outlined. 51 notes