Making Space for More Compassion with Fewer Rules: Reducing Conditions of Probation to Improve Successful Completion

Making Space for More Compassion with Fewer Rules: Reducing Conditions of Probation to Improve Successful Completion
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-06-20
Unit 1 Presentation Materials: Making Space for More Compassion with Fewer Rules: Reducing Conditions of Probation to Improve Successful Completion
Unit 2 Transcript: Making Space for More Compassion with Fewer Rules: Reducing Conditions of Probation to Improve Successful Completion
Unit 3 Workbook: Making Space for More Compassion with Fewer Rules: Reducing Conditions of Probation to Improve Successful Completion
Unit 4 Recording: Making Space for More Compassion with Fewer Rules: Reducing Conditions of Probation to Improve Successful Completion

The whole criminal justice system is facing challenges – understaffing with police officers, filled up caseloads in probation, and overpopulation in corrections, just to name a few. This session aims to dissect how compassion and reduced probation conditions can set probation clients up for success and prevent revocation thereby reducing caseload and the number of individuals that end up in detention and correction.

Sharing her expertise is Shannon Magnuson, a Senior Associate from Justice System Partners (JSP). She has 10 years of experience conducting meaningful research, providing technical assistance to local, state, and federal partners where she’s focused on evidence-informed and culturally responsive policies and practices across the legal system.

Specifics she discussed on this webinar include:

  • How conditions are designed for the convenience of probation authorities, rather than considering the needs of probationers and even creating obstacles for them.
  • What probation conditions are, the common probation rules, who assigns the probation conditions, and the typical outcomes when probationers don’t follow the conditions.
  • The varying revocation rates across the US and the usual conditions that probationers go back to jail for.
  • Questions to reflect on to understand whether the current probation conditions are working.
  • The Reducing Revocation Challenge
    • Its findings on the common reasons for returning to jail being condition violations and not new charges.
    • The pathways and outcomes that probationers take and have.
  • What the legal system defines as the reason behind probation rules which is based on the assumption that probation is a privilege, and is merely comfort food that makes the legal system feel better.
  • Critically thinking through redesigning probation rules by taking into account…
    • The inconsistency practiced in the probation setting when it comes to getting clients to adhere to the conditions based on their risk assessment score.
    • How race intersects with high-risk assessment and probation violations.
    • Persistent and systemic barriers like disabilities and felony convictions which can affect employment prospects.
    • Clinical research on drug abuse, desistance, and treatment
    • How poverty prevents probationers from committing to contacts and visits.
  • A research effort into two offices that demonstrated…
    • The process of redesigning probation conditions, who participated in the process, and the nature of the changes made.
    • Examples of changes in conditions for residence and abstaining from alcoholic beverages.
    • How changing probation conditions can improve the frequency of revocation rates for both sites.
    • Reduction in probation conditions does not result in increased arrests.
  • The challenge presented to probation offices to be able to implement a similar reduction to the probation conditions for improved revocation rates and individual outcomes.
    • To collect data to understand who is violating probation conditions, the demographics of those who are revoked, and the conditions that are most frequently violated and lead to revocation.
    • To build a team to critically review the conditions that are made up of those who assign the conditions and those that are most impacted by the enforcement of the conditions.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • Opening up the conversation and getting buy-in from of decision-makers to make the change.
  • Organizations that work with a general set of conditions versus individual rules.
  • Educating the public on the benefits of reducing probation conditions and introducing this to law enforcement.
  • Managing failure to report violations before the court.
  • Cost-benefit analysis of condition reduction initiatives in probation.
  • Officer discretion in the enforcement of conditions.
  • Non-compliance due to the probationer’s economic limitations.



Click here to view and register for other upcoming Probation/Community Corrections webinars and recordings on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “So much good stuff today about the benefits of reducing the number of probation conditions. Eager to see the data and show it to local decision-makers.” — Dustin
  • “I am so glad this is being studied. As a treatment provider for many years, we had this discussion often and it always fell on deaf ears.” — Andrea
  • “I found this topic very interesting and see the potential benefits of it. Would love to hear more about it.” — Kimberly
  • “I’ve been instituting this concept for many years working with the SMI population regardless of ordered terms with outstanding success. So happy to see it is being researched out there! Thank You!!!!” — Leslie
  • “As a new probation officer (less than 2 years in), I already have a different perspective on what probation is and how it impacts our clients. This affirms that my perspective is spot on. Thank you!!” — Yuronda
  • “Learning the statistics and now wanting to learn more about my jurisdictions statistics is my biggest takeaway. Thank you!” — McKinley
  • “Ka-BOOM! Mind blown. Thank you for a lot of food for thought. (And maybe some changes in practice.)” — Andrea
  • “Wow! Aaron and Chris always say this, but this truly was an OUTstanding webinar today!!! Excellent, excellent presentation Shannon, and with so much passion. Thank you.” — Corinna
  • “Great to be having this conversation. Found it most profound when she mentioned the link between racial disparities and poverty that occurs when looking at violations of conditions.” — Enoch
  • “This training was actually relatable to what probation officers deal with regarding conditions versus a high-ranking officer or title explaining their experiences. I appreciated the data, research, and examples of how conditions were changed or revised. Thank you!” — Rachel




This webinar is part of the JCH Summer School Program. From June 1-August 31, 2023, attendees will receive a certificate of attendance via email about one hour after the conclusion of a webinar.

Want to join us for other Summer School webinars? Check out our Summer School Calendar and register today!



Additional Resources
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