Arizona Experiments with Swift and Sure Sanctions

In the same vein as Hawaii, Michigan, Texas, New Jersey, and other jurisdictions across the United States, Arizona has decided to use swift and sure sanctions, otherwise known as graduated sanctions, in order to reduce technical revocations.

Technical revocations occur when probated or paroled offenders violate a term of their supervision—such as missing a meeting or failing to pay a fine—rather than a new crime. These technical violations can sometimes pile up and result in revocation and an additional stint in a prison cell.

Arizona has realized, as so many other jurisdictions have, that avoiding technical revocations not only saves taxpayers the bill for additional months or years spent in prison, but also frees up prison beds for dangerous and violent offenders.

To that end, Arizona’s Department of Corrections created a halfway house for parolees who violate a technical provision of their release. This halfway house will include drug treatment, day reporting for employed parolees, and life skills classes. But most importantly, the halfway house will use immediate penalties and sanctions for technical violations, which will aid in reducing revocations to prison.

The cost savings to Arizona taxpayers encompasses both the cheaper per diem for community corrections, but also long term savings that result from more ex-offenders desisting from crime.

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