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Who Cares What Offenders Think?: New Insight From Offenders Surveys

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 75 Issue: 2 Dated: September 2011 Pages: 13-15
Jay Whetzel; Christopher T. Lowenkamp
Date Published
September 2011
3 pages
This article presents the methodology and findings from the piloting of an offender survey developed by the Office of Probation and Pretrial Services (OPPS), Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
Taken together, all three pilot districts - New York Eastern, Kentucky Western, and the Northern District of Texas - produced survey data that showed 96 percent of the offenders "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that their officers were "firm but fair." The qualitative data, i.e., offenders' commentary was also overwhelmingly positive. Although some offenders used the survey as an opportunity to criticize their officers, the vast majority expressed appreciation for the support their officers were providing. The data agree that offenders "strongly agree" or "agree" that officers assist with problem solving (81 percent), motivate them (83 percent), and acknowledge their successes (85 percent). The OPPS survey was based in part on input from various districts that had previously surveyed their offenders. Offenders asked 12 questions using a five-point Likert scale. The new STARR program (Supervision Techniques Aimed at Reducing Re-Arrest) is built on the same core correctional practices highlighted in the offender survey. The offender survey reflects the evidence-based finding that probation officers' effectiveness as change agents depends on offenders' reactions to how they are treated by their probation officers. 1 table and 12 references