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Probation Review Implementation: How Best Practices Meet Everyday Practices

Published Nov 15, 2013, Dr. John S. Ryals, Jr.

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Through support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana undertook a comprehensive Probation Review process in order to enhance Probation system practice.  This process informed the development of the Probation Review Guidebook (2011), which guides jurisdictions in undertaking an effective probation review.  Probation Review Implementation: How Best Practices Meet Everyday Practices serves as a companion guide to the Probation Review Guidebook and reports on the implementation of recommendations developed during the probation review process in Jefferson Parish.  Implemented recommendations resulted in substantial improvements in nearly every aspect of the Probation Department activities in Jefferson Parish, including the following:

  • Access to evidence-based treatment practices jumped from merely 7% in 2009 to 99% in 2012.
  • From 2009 to 2012, unnecessary mental health evaluation costs were reduced by 23% through the use of objective mental health screening practices.
  • One-year recidivism for probation completers declined to 20% in 2012, from 53% prior to implementation. 
  • Fewer youth entered the juvenile justice system, resulting in fewer youth on probation and a reduction in average probation caseload from 33 youth to probation officer in 2009 to 20 youth to probation officer by 2013.
  • Since 2008, the number of youth in the Jefferson Parish detention facility dropped 16%, which contributed to the closing of two units in the facility. Savings associated with fewer youth in detention were estimated to be $150,000 and $175,000 per year.

This report details an implementation process that can help juvenile probation departments achieve similar results through diligence, persistence, and sustained effort.  It highlights work products as well as challenges faced by Jefferson Parish.  It is a valuable tool for jurisdictions that are interested in improving their ability to change lives and protect the community.



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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.