The article is a report written after a study conducted in Multnomah County, Oregon to assess the effectiveness of intermediate sanctions done by the Vera Institute of Justice for the Department of Community Justice in the county. Intermediate sanctions are measures taken to deal with criminal offenders without putting them in the already congested prisons (Caputo, 2004). They were originally meant to reduce the congestion experienced in American prisons especially targeting minor offenders while at the same time acting as a means of punishment. The main forms of intermediate sanctions are intensive supervision programs, home confinement, prison boot camps, day fines, day reporting centers and community service. The primary focus of the article is Multnomah County and how these sanctions are utilized within its justice framework.
The purpose for writing this article is to observe the trends in intermediate sanctions in Multnomah County with emphasis on jail sanctions and the sanctions’ influence on the outcomes of supervision. Primarily the hypothesis created by the author is whether the application of intermediate sanctions provides an effective reform to the supervision system in Multnomah County. The goal of the author is to evaluate the system through the study conducted and thereafter recommend ways of improving it. The hypothesis aimed at answering three main questions, the most frequent violations witnessed among offenders on supervision and the sanctions associated with these particular violations, the frequency of jail sanctions and the relationship between the sanctions employed and the outcomes both short term and long term.
The study was conducted using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Qualitative information was provided through interviewing supervising officers at the Department of Community Justice including line officers. Part of it was based on an analysis of client level administrative records compiled by the DCJ containing demographic information and previous criminal activities. This information greatly contributed to quantitative figures required to interpret patterns linked to frequency of violations and that of jail sanctions. The findings were compared to those of two other counties that were implementing intermediate sanctions. Other methods used include the Survival analysis and Cox regression, which were used to account for the time elapsed, and its importance. They were used in models that predicted the success or failure at the time of discharge after supervision. Propensity score matching was used to assess the long-term outcomes of sanctions after discharging.
The findings of the study revealed the most common conditions for violations in Multnomah County were the changing of job or residence without permission from relevant authorities and failure to make the daily reporting to the PO. The most commonly implemented sanctions for these violations were PO- based sanctions and interventions. The number of people studied indicated that many did not receive any form of sanction during their supervision, with the highest number being in Multnomah County as compared to the other two counties engaged in the study. The incidence of jail-based sanctions was high across all counties studied. Multnomah again had the highest number though the total number of days for this sanction varied substantially among all the counties. In average, 63.9 days were given as jail days in the course of one’s supervision tenure.
Most people under supervision completed it successfully with those who received sanctions more likely to have their tenure revoked than those who did not. Sanctions inclined negatively on the outcomes after discharge from supervision. This varied with the type and number of sanctions placed on an individual. The performance of offenders after being released is affected by these sanctions, but due to different types of exposure to the sanctions, the general effect is that thy did not help much in ensuring offenders were not rearrested especially those placed solely under jail sanctions.
Personally, I feel that the author should have provided more information on other sanctions other than focusing on jail terms. Research should also have been conducted on the effect of other sanctions on short and long-term outcomes. This is because it is not the only effective sanction issued in the course of conducting supervision. Otherwise, reason should have been provided to justify the restriction to jail sanctions. Other than that, the author sufficiently provided evidence to support their hypothesis. Conclusive results are given and accounted for throughout the study. The use of comparison added effectiveness to the article’s delivery of its main point.
The article implies that there is a need to employ other sanction and intervention methods other than jail. I agree with the author because the justice system is yet to utilize and exhaust other sanctions available to them. Jail sanctions are costly and have a negative effect on the outcomes in relation to the number of days an offender is given. Some of the common factors in
Community-based corrections are their organizational structure in terms of funding, the targeted population in this case criminal offenders and its support system. The support system may be in the form of sanctions. I think house arrest and intensive supervision have more potential to be effective as compared to other types of intermediate sanctions. This is because they enable full monitoring of the offenders activities and can be used when supervising major offenders. Through these methods, it is easy to assess whether or not the offender has benefited from correctional efforts by the judicial system. Additionally they serve as adequate punishment to the offenders who are stripped of their personal liberties, as they would have in prison though in a more lenient manner.
Caputo, G. A. (2004). Intermediate sanctions in corrections. Denton, Tex: University of North Texas Press.