The Swift, Certain, and Fair (SCF) approach to community supervision reduces reoffending, arrest, and incarceration by replacing unpredictable and high-level sanctions for probation violations with swift, certain, but small penalties.
The Swift, Certain, and Fair (SCF) approach shares the National Network’s guiding principles in its approach to community supervision. SCF reduces reoffending, arrest, and incarceration by replacing unpredictable and high-level sanctions for probation violations with swift, certain, but small penalties. Research has shown that the transparent, consistent, and immediate response is a vital tool in shaping behavior and improving the perception that sanctions are fair. Using community supervision is much more cost effective than a prison sentence or jail term, allowing offenders to work, care for their families, and pay taxes. After a successful pilot in Hawaii known as Hawaii HOPE, similar probation programs are now operating in numerous other states across the U.S., and the U.K. is starting to adapt SCF principles to sobriety pilots in London and Glasgow.
This publication evaluates Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), a program using the SCF framework to deter reoffending by high-risk probationers.
This is an example of a swift, certain and fair warning hearing written by Judge Steven Alm.
The Washington Intensive Supervision Program (WISP) started in February 2011 as a pilot project in Seattle to test whether the principles of SCF community supervision could succeed for higher risk parolees as well as probationers. With the aid of individuals involved in the original HOPE program, and a remarkable level of coordination and motivation among WISP staff, WISP quickly achieved a high degree of fidelity to the original HOPE model.
WISP clients differed significantly from those previously successfully supervised by SCF programs. As one of the first SCF programs to supervise parolees, WISP generally supervised individuals with longer and more serious criminal histories than previous programs. WISP clients also had a wider variety of drug abuse problems, with heroin in particular being a notable challenge.
The pilot was such a success that in April 2012, the state legislature overwhelming passed a law rolling out the program statewide. In rapid fashion, approximately 17,000 offenders supervised out of 113 field offices were oriented into WISP.
A video interview with the Honorable Steven S. Alm of HOPE at the 2009 NIJ Conference in Washington explains the logic behind the strategy.
American Friends of Policy Exchange hosted Judge Steven S. Alm, creator of Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program, for a lecture and discussion on how ‘swift and certain’ punishment can dramatically reduce reoffending.
Since the crime explosion of the 1960s, the prison population in the United States has multiplied fivefold, to one prisoner for every hundred adults--a rate unprecedented in American history and unmatched anywhere in the world. Even as the prisoner head count continues to rise, crime has stopped falling, and poor people and minorities still bear the brunt of both crime and punishment. When Brute Force Fails explains how we got into the current trap and how we can get out of it: to cut both crime and the prison population in half within a decade.
Mark Kleiman demonstrates that simply locking up more people for lengthier terms is no longer a workable crime-control strategy. But, says Kleiman, there has been a revolution--largely unnoticed by the press--in controlling crime by means other than brute-force incarceration: substituting swiftness and certainty of punishment for randomized severity, concentrating enforcement resources rather than dispersing them, communicating specific threats of punishment to specific offenders, and enforcing probation and parole conditions to make community corrections a genuine alternative to incarceration. As Kleiman shows, "zero tolerance" is nonsense: there are always more offenses than there is punishment capacity. But, it is possible--and essential--to create focused zero tolerance, by clearly specifying the rules and then delivering the promised sanctions every time the rules are broken.
Mark A.R. Kleinman argues brute-force crime control has been a costly mistake, both socially and financially. Now that we know how to do better, it would be immoral not to put that knowledge to work. To order a copy of his book, click here for more information.
UCLA Public Policy Professor Mark Kleiman explains how a judge in Hawaii stopped drug offenders from violating parole with a cost-effective program at Zocolo Public Square in 2009.
Mark A.R. Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs delivers the keynote address at the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal's 2013 symposium: "The Palliative Use of Marijuana: Demystifying Connecticut's Policy Concerning Medical Marijuana."
Alcohol consumption can impose enormous health and safety costs on individuals and society. Problem drinkers account for a disproportionate share of these costs. Although millions of problem drinkers pass through the criminal justice system each year, reducing their alcohol consumption has proven difficult.
South Dakota's innovative 24/7 Sobriety Project requires those arrested for or convicted of alcohol-involved offenses to take twice-a-day breathalyzer tests or wear a continuous alcohol monitoring bracelet. Those who fail or skip their tests are immediately subject to swift, certain but modest sanctions—typically a day or two in jail. After a five-county pilot project, “24/7” quickly grew to cover additional jurisdictions and offenses (e.g., assault).
Although 24/7 has won national awards, received tremendous attention in the domestic and international press, and is now being implemented in other states, evidence of its effectiveness has been largely anecdotal and descriptive. RAND researchers recently published the first peer-reviewed evaluation of whether 24/7 improved public health in South Dakota.
Mark Kleiman discusses an application of the swift, certain and fair policy to drug abuse in an international context. You can focus drug law enforcement in a way that reduces violence by in effect saying to market participants, "your chances of being nailed for your drug dealing activity goes up if you hurt people in the process," he says.
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From Hawaii to test sites in 28 states, the new swift-certain-fair approach to probation has spread--and continues to grow.
New center provides free training and services in implementing and evaluating swift, certain, and fair responses in corrections across the nation.
Judge Steven Alm gives a presentation about the HOPE program at the Policy Exchange about This program delivers swift and certain punishment designed to change behavior with the recognition that the swiftness and certainty of punishment is more important than severity.
UCLA Luskin's professor of public policy Mark Kleiman discusses how using SCF sanctions as a complement to drug treatment can encourage users to get off drugs on NYT's Room for Debate.
NewsHour Weekend profiles an innovative probation program in Hawaii that has been so successful in reforming offenders and keeping them out of prison, it's now being copied in courtrooms across the nation.
In the spring of 2006, Angela Hawken flew to Hawaii to investigate year-long innovative pilot penal reform program. The program, called Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, or HOPE, is based on simple precepts that the judge who created it likened to “Parenting 101.” It immediately jails, for no more than three or four days, offenders who miss a probation appointment or fail a drug test.
Being tough on criminals hasn’t worked, but neither has being lenient. Mark Kleiman's essay on crime control makes a strong case that despite recent crime decline we've seen over the past two decades, crime levels remain unacceptably high and reducing crime levels using the SCF strategy would yield enormous economic and social dividends.