Comparisons of probation outcomes between states must be
viewed with an understanding of the difficulties raised by
jurisdictional differences in sentencing practices. For instance, many
states place persons convicted of DUI on probation at their first
offense and others do not. Since DUI and other such offenders have much
lower recidivism rates than felons convicted of property or drug crimes,
their presence in the caseload will affect an agency's recidivism rates.
On the other hand, states where prison crowding is a serious problem or
where IPS is a sentencing option may tend to divert more serious
offenders to probation thus increasing expected recidivism.
Consequently, the type of offenders placed on probation versus other
alternatives such as a fine, mandatory treatment or prison, will affect
probation outcomes in a jurisdiction. Since these factors are very
difficult to identify and control, comparison of state probation
outcomes should be viewed as advisory at best.
Another issue in comparing case outcomes concerns the
definition of recidivism in terms of the nature of the offense and the
length of time during which it may occur. A standard method of
comparison is required to make meaningful comparisons across
jurisdictions. A measure employed by the National Council on Crime and
Delinquency (NCCD) in probation risk assessment or evaluation studies
conducted in 15 states is to "count" offenders as recidivists
if they have a new conviction or revocation occurring within two years
of admission to supervision. Applying this standard method for
comparison purposes in Arizona, 18% of the probationers were convicted
of a new offense or revoked within two years of placement on probation
Given national norms, Arizona operates a fairly typical
probation system. It primarily supervises felony offenders and has a
relatively low (9%) percentage of DUI offenders in the caseload. In
recent studies completed in five similar state jurisdictions, NCCD found
comparable recidivism rates that ranged from 18% to 28%. Three states
had rates higher than 25%. As such, recidivism among Arizona
probationers, using the above noted standard method of comparison (18%
within two years of placement), falls at the low end of this range and
is well below the average.
Note: The information in this section was provided by the
National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) and is drawn from their
forthcoming national study on probation.
Institute for Rational Public Policy, Inc. 1991. Arizona
Criminal Code and Corrections Study.
Langan, Patrick A. and Mark A. Cunniff. 1992. Recidivism of
Felons on Probation, 1986-89. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special
Matthews, Timothy. 1994. "Alternative Outcome Measures:
The Concept." Perspectives. Winter. pp. 11-12.
Morgan, Kathryn D. 1993. "Factors Influencing Probation
Outcome: A Review of the Literature." Federal Probation.
Vol. 57, No. 2. pp 23-29
Petersilia, Joan and Susan Turner. May 1993 Evaluating
Intensive Supervision Probation/Parole: Results of a Nationwide
Experiment. NIJ Research in Brief
Siegel, Gayle R. 1994. "Making a Difference: The Effect
of Literacy and General Education Development Programs on Adult
Offenders on Probation." Perspectives. Winter. pp. 38-43.
Stiles, Don R. 1994. "Comments." Perspectives.
Winter. p. 43.
© Arizona Supreme Court, 1996
Arizona Supreme Court
Administrative Office of the Courts
Adult Probation Services Division, Suite 344
Juvenile Justice Services Division, Suite 337
1501 West Washington, Phoenix, Arizona 85007