Utilizing Behavioral Interventions to Improve Supervision Outcomes in Community-Based Corrections
Wodahl, Eric J.
Culhane, Scott E.
McCarty, William P.
MetadataShow full item record
The number of offenders supervised in the community has grown tremendously over the past few decades. During the same time period, successful completions of probation and parole terms have been declining. Behavioral strategies hold promise for improving offender outcomes, but empirical research on the efficacy of these interventions appears nonexistent in community corrections. The current study examines the impact of rewards and sanctions on offenders in an intensive supervision program (ISP). Data were collected on a random sample of 283 offenders who participated in the Wyoming Department of Corrections’ ISP between 2000 and 2003. Agency records, including supervision notes, violation reports, and other offender-related correspondence, were utilized to track offenders’ sanction and reward histories during their participation in the program. Controlling for a number of variables, the study found that the use of both sanctions and rewards led to higher success rates. Administering rewards in proportionally higher numbers than sanctions produced the best results, especially when a ratio of four or more rewards for every sanction was achieved. Correctional administrators are encouraged to identify ideological obstacles that may impede the application of behavioral techniques and to carefully train and guide line staff in the use of sanctions and rewards. Recommendations for future research are also discussed