SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 1: Bonta, James, Guy Bourgon, Tanya Rugge, Terri-Lynne Scott, Annie K. Yessine, Leticia Gutierrez & Jobina Li (November 2011). An Experimental Demonstration of Training Probation Officers in Evidence-Based Community Supervision. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 38(11): 1127-1148.

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The present study evaluated a training program for probation officers based on the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) model of offender rehabilitation. A total of 80 officers were randomly assigned to either training or a no training condition. The probation officers then recruited 143 probationers and audiotaped their sessions at the beginning of supervision, 3 months later, and 6 months later. The audiotapes were coded with respect to the officers’ adherence to the RNR model. The experimental probation officers demonstrated significantly better adherence to the RNR principles, with more frequent use of cognitive-behavioral techniques to address the pro-criminal attitudes of their clients. Finally, the analysis of recidivism rates favored the clients of the trained officers. The findings suggest that training in the evidence-based principles of the RNR model can have an important impact on the behavior of probation officers and their clients.


Article 2Teague, Michael (December 2011). Probation in America: Armed, private and unaffordable? Probation Journal, 58(4): 317-332.

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While America is renowned for its enormous prison industrial complex, less academic attention has been paid to the state of probation intervention. The probation population has long been rising more swiftly than the prison population, and one in 45 adults in the USA is now subject to community supervision. This article explores the development of American probation and considers a series of key contextual issues, including the fragmented nature of the US probation system and the philosophies which underpin it, supervision fees, privatization, and the arming of probation officers, in order to illuminate how the community corrections system functions. The Justice Reinvestment initiative is also considered, and the impact of budgetary pressures upon probation is taken into account.


Article 3: Homant, Robert J. & Mark A. DeMercurio (October 2009). Intermediate Sanctions in Probation Officers’ Sentencing Recommendations: Consistency, Net Widening, and Net Repairing. The Prison Journal, 89(4): 426-439.

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To explore the role of intermediate sanctions in probation officers’ sentencing recommendations, 30 actual felony cases were selected. These cases were then randomly assigned to 10 probation officers who were experienced in writing pre-sentence investigations. Each officer reviewed a total of 9 cases; this gave a total of 90 ratings, with each case rated by three probation officers. Each officer expressed his or her preference for either a standard prison term, regular probation, or one of three intermediate sanctions: boot camp, intensive probation, and a split sentence (60 days jail followed by probation). Data showed that probation officers were in substantial agreement in their recommendations for a given case, but there were consistent differences among the probation officers, with some showing a consistent tendency toward leniency and others toward severity. The intermediate sanctions were used consistently, in that they were seen as less severe than a prison term and more severe than standard probation. In 61 of the 90 ratings, an intermediate sanction was the first choice of the rater. In 44 of these cases, the next choice was standard probation, suggesting that the intermediate sanction served a net widening (or net repairing) function; in 17 cases the next choice was prison, suggesting that the intermediate sanction served to divert from (standard) incarceration.


Article 4: Crocker, Diane (February 2015). Implementing and Evaluating Restorative Justice Projects in Prison. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 26(1): 45-64.

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This article describes a restorative justice project run in three Canadian prisons. The project, Partners in Healing, aimed to promote restorative justice by running restorative justice committees inside and recruiting volunteers from the community to participate along with prisoners. The main goals of the project were to increase participants’ awareness of restorative justice and help prisoners gain an understanding of the effects of their crime(s). An evaluation of the project solicited stories about the restorative justice committees and this article reports on some of the evaluation findings. The qualitative data offer insights into how to best design a restorative justice project in prisons. It also reveals dilemmas associated with evaluating such projects. The article concludes that projects need to be guided by a clear conceptualization of restorative justice.