Any efforts to control crime and corrections costs must seek to strengthen the ability of probation and parole agencies to keep offenders crime- and drug-free. Although prisons and jails currently consume most corrections spending, the majority of adult offenders (70 percent) are in the community on probation and parole. The reincarceration of these offenders for new crimes and violations of the conditions of their release, such as failing a drug test, is a leading driver of the prison populations in most states.
As prison and jail budgets continue to rise, states and counties increasingly are seeking ways to control the costs while ensuring public safety and holding offenders accountable. Probation and parole agencies are not immune to this pressure. Because they are such a big part of the system, they too must deliver stronger results at less cost.
Today, many agencies across the nation are employing a wide array of techniques and technologies to get better, more cost-effective results. These include programs that teach offenders new ways to think through problems and resolve conflicts, and rapid-result urine tests and electronic monitors that alert authorities when offenders are using drugs or aren’t where they’re supposed to be.