Department of Corrections Zero Tolerance Policy Increases Offender Scrutiny But Is Not Based on Risk to Public Safety
Report 07-13, February 2007
- The Department of Corrections established a "zero tolerance policy" in 2003 requiring its probation officers to report every offender who violates any condition of supervision. It covers both new criminal offenses and technical violations such as missing appointments with probation officers or treatment counselors, missing curfew, and leaving the house for an unauthorized reason while under house arrest. As a result of this policy, the number of technical violation reports has increased by 54%.
- The zero tolerance policy has enhanced public safety by increasing scrutiny of offenders and incarceration of those who commit new offenses. However, in addition to removing dangerous offenders from the community, the policy requires a significant amount of resources to be spent on offenders who commit minor technical violations and who pose little threat to public safety. All offenders reported for violations are now subject to arrest and court hearings are held to resolve the violations. As a result, the policy has had a significant impact on the courts, law enforcement, and those offenders who are subsequently released without further sanction.
- The state should consider alternatives to handling technical violations by low-risk offenders in order to better target limited resources at persons who pose the greatest public risk while still holding all offenders responsible for their actions. These alternatives include authorizing probation officers to apply graduated sanctions for minor violations, establishing an internal review process for technical violations, and creating specialized courts to hear technical violation cases.
Zero Tolerance Policy Rescinded and Alternatives Implemented to Address Technical Violations
Report 10-39 April 2010
Electronic Monitoring Expanded to Target Communities' More Dangerous Offenders
Report 07-42 November 2007
Higher Priority Should Be Given to Transition Services to Reduce Inmate Recidivism
Report 07-17 February 2007
Some Inmate Family Visitation Practices Are Not Meeting the Legislature's Intent
Report 07-16 February 2007
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