Niagara University released the results of a grant-funded study to analyze the drivers of probation revocations and identify ways to increase probation success in Niagara County. “Reducing Revocations Challenge: Niagara County, NY,” is the culmination of a 16-month study funded by a $185,000 grant from Arnold Ventures and the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance and conducted in partnership with the Niagara County Probation Department. Niagara was one of 10 jurisdictions selected to participate in this national initiative, which 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 identify the drivers of violations and revocations in Niagara County, as well as who is most likely to be violated and/or revoked and the most prominent types of noncompliance cited in formal violations and/or revocations, Dr. Michael Cassidy, Dr. Craig Rivera, Dr. Timothy Lauger and Dr. Paul Schupp, faculty in Niagara’s department of criminology and criminal justice, conducted a review of relevant laws and policies, an analysis of NCPD official record data and case files, and interviews with NCPD personnel and judges. Using this information, the professors offered evidence-based solutions for policy and practice.
Their findings suggest that risk level, internal policies on nonpayment of fines and restitution, and certain types of noncompliance (e.g., new crime charges, failure to report, substance use) are the primary drivers of violations and revocations. Potential strategies to reduce unsuccessful exits from community supervision include intensifying supervision for higher risk clients by increasing remote reporting and expanding early discharge policies for lower risk probationers, revising NCPD’s fines and restitution policy, and reimplementing the department’s graduated responses policy.
“The completed research increases our knowledge about why violations and revocations of probation occur in Niagara County, and this information can then be used to devise potential policy responses to reduce these outcomes in the future,” Rivera said. “This project also helped to deepen our collaborative relationship with the Niagara County Probation Department, our partners in this research. They provided invaluable assistance, collaboration and generous access to data every step of the way, and were always gracious in sharing their time and expertise. Next steps include working with NCPD to solidify potential policy solutions to reduce violations and revocations, such as the use of intermediate sanctions, and pursuing further grant funding to empirically test the implementation of these approaches.”