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About Dosage Probation

The dosage probation model suggests that the length of supervision should be determined by the number of hours of intervention necessary to reduce risk as opposed to a standard probation term, such as 3, 4, or 5 years. Dosage probation is designed to incentivize behavior change by providing an opportunity for the individual under supervision to receive early termination from probation if they successfully engage in risk reduction interventions tailored to their criminogenic needs, in a “dose” matched to their risk level.

The Benefits of Dosage Probation

  • For the supervising agency, it positions officers to focus their work on risk reduction activities and to manage scarce resources more efficiently.
  • For community service providers, the dosage model establishes a method to effectively match probationers to services and to encourage individuals’ active participation in treatment.
  • For external stakeholders, the dosage probation model offers transparency around the case management process and clear criteria for the granting of early termination from supervision.
  • For probationers, the dosage model provides a compelling incentive for engaging in risk reducing interventions and enhances the meaningfulness and impact of probation supervision.

Preliminary Outcomes from Pilot Sites

  • Experiences from the dosage probation pilot sites demonstrate that:
  • Justice system decision makers (particularly prosecutors and judges) can embrace the approach;
  • Many justice-involved individuals demonstrate significantly higher levels of motivation to engage in risk reduction services;
  • Supervision officers are more directed in their case planning efforts and one-on-one interactions;
  • Treatment providers willingly modify practices to more closely align with evidence-based practices; and
  • Probation terms can be dramatically reduced.

Core Elements of the Dosage Probation Implementation Model

The following outlines the anticipated elements necessary to support the implementation of the

Dosage Probation Model:

  1. The legal/statutory authority to formally discharge offenders from probation early based upon successful accomplishment of dosage probation requirements.
  2. The use of an empirically based risk/needs instrument.
    1. The jurisdiction must have the capacity to assess offenders’ risk level prior to sentencing and share this information with decision makers (e.g., court, DA, PD) or otherwise have the ability to determine offenders’ eligibility and secure judicial agreement to dosage probation.
  3. An engaged, committed, knowledgeable Policy Team interested in and willing to implement the
  4. Dosage Probation Model. Support from the following policy leaders is necessary:
    1. The local Chief Judge
    2. The local Chief Public Defender
    3. The local elected District Attorney
    4. The local Chief Probation Officer
    5. The chief law enforcement officer (Chief of Police and/or Sheriff).

Where state officials have authority over local jurisdictions, support from state leadership is also necessary.

  1. A judiciary willing to sentence eligible and appropriate offenders to dosage probation and willing to set supervision conditions supportive of the Dosage Probation Model.
  2. A Probation Department that has:
    1. Staff skilled and knowledgeable in evidence-­‐based practices, including Motivational Interviewing and the core correctional practices
    2. The ability to cap dosage probation caseloads at requisite levels (approximately 45–60 medium/high risk offenders, depending on other non-­‐casework responsibilities)
    3. A currently operating evidence-­‐based supervision model. Such a model includes, for example:
      1. Use of risk/needs assessments to guide interventions
      2. Application of professional alliance techniques to engage offenders in the change process
      3. One-on-one sessions of 20+ minutes
      4. Focus on offenders’ top criminogenic needs, with priority given to the most influential four
      5. 2–4 contacts per month (depending upon whether medium or high risk) in circumstances that allow for one-on-one skill-building sessions
      6. Skill practice sessions conducted by probation staff to address offenders’ skill deficits
      7. Use of specific tools to structure and direct one-on-one sessions
      8. Use of case plans to establish specific goals and SMART action steps
      9. Use of structured responses to antisocial/noncompliant behavior
      10. Use of structured responses to prosocial attitudes/behavior
      11. Methods to record dosage
      12. Methods to objectively assess offender behavioral changes
      13. In‐house continuous quality improvement strategies.
    4. The availability of evidence-­‐based programming for the target population such as:
      1. An array of cognitive behavioral programs b. Services targeting criminogenic needs
      2. Services provided by probation (e.g., Thinking for a Change), governmental organizations
      3. (e.g., Behavioral Health), community-­‐based providers, or a combination d. A service delivery system with sufficient capacity to avoid waiting lists
      4. Sufficient funding available to ensure offenders’ ability to participate in programming
      5. Service providers who are willing to participate in a collaborative relationship with justice system partners and to share specified information about offenders’ program participation (e.g., attendance, level of engagement, progress, amount of “dosage” delivered in each session)
      6. Service providers who have been or are willing to be assessed using the Correctional
      7. Program Assessment Inventory (CPAI) or the Correctional Program Checklist (CPC)
      8. Service providers who have been or are willing to participate in corrective action planning if deficiencies are identified through the CPAI/CPC evaluation process.
    5. Sufficient capacity to engage in the Dosage Probation Project, Sufficient number of offenders assessed as medium/high risk according to the jurisdiction’s risk assessment instrument sentenced to probation terms within any given year.
    6. Identification of a target population within the medium/high risk probation-­‐eligible population
      1. Identification of exclusionary charges (e.g., malicious homicide, 1st degree sexual assault)
      2. Identification of other exclusionary conditions (e.g., ICE hold, non-­‐resident of the County, diagnosed serious mental illness)
      3. Minimum probation terms of 1+ years
    7. Number of probation staff who would work with offenders participating in the Dosage Probation Project.
  3. Ability to collect and analyze performance measurement and outcome data
    1. Availability of staff knowledgeable about data collection and analysis
      1. At the offender level
      2. At the program level
    2. Availability of manual/automated systems to capture and analyze performance and outcome data
    3. Adaptability of manual/automated systems to capture new data elements.

    The implementation is presented throughout this website in four phases and 13 discreet steps.