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Niagara University joins national challenge to increase probation success and protect public safety


Thu, Oct 17th 2019 03:20 pm

Niagara University, in partnership with the Niagara County Probation Department, has been selected to participate in the Reducing Revocations Challenge, a national initiative of Arnold Ventures and the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance dedicated to understanding the drivers of probation revocations and identifying ways to reduce the community supervision failures that send almost 350,000 people to jails and prisons each year.

In Niagara County, approximately 75.5% of probation failures result in jail sentences. The challenge aims to increase success on probation through the identification, piloting and testing of promising strategies grounded in a robust analysis and understanding of why revocations occur.

To carry out this work, Dr. Craig Rivera, Dr. Michael Cassidy, Dr. Timothy Lauger and Dr. Paul Schupp, faculty in Niagara University’s department of criminology and criminal justice, will receive a grant of approximately $185,000 to conduct on-the-ground, in-depth research and data analysis on the drivers of probation failures. The professors will work with graduate and undergraduate students to conduct their research, the findings from which will be used to propose evidence-based solutions for policy and practice. Selected strategies may receive additional funding in a potential second phase of the initiative.

NU will be part of a learning network alongside the nine other jurisdictions selected to participate in the challenge, including participation in a cross-site summit, where findings and potential solutions will be shared and discussed. Members of the learning network will also receive guidance and technical assistance from the ISLG and an advisory board of experts in the field at each step along the way.

“We are excited to be partnering with the Niagara County Probation Department and its director, who is strongly committed to identifying the drivers of probation failures,” said Cassidy, assistant professor. “With the support of Arnold Ventures and the ISLG, our work will help develop evidence-based interventions to reduce probation revocations. This project also provides our students with an amazing opportunity to conduct empirical research on an important issue.”

“Probation revocations are a significant driver of incarceration – in light of that, it’s great to see corrections leaders stepping up to transform what’s not working and expand what is,” said Amy Solomon, vice president of criminal justice at Arnold Ventures. “The Reducing Revocations Challenge sites represent the cutting edge of research-practitioner partnerships, and each site will serve as a model for other jurisdictions, demonstrating the most effective ways to reduce probation failures, strengthen public safety, and ensure greater equity in our communities.”

“Probation violations have resulted in significant increases to prison populations to no good effect, and it’s time to refocus resources on policies and practices that will help people succeed and increase public safety,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of ISLG and former commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation. “We look forward to collaborating with these 10 sites in their pioneering efforts to do just that. Understanding what drives revocations – and for whom – is a critical first step, and the insights we gain from the challenge can help probation offices around the country advance effective strategies for increasing success.”

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