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The Impact of
Probation and Parole Populations
on Arrests in
Four California Cities

A report prepared by the
Council of State Governments Justice Center

The Impact of
Probation and Parole Populations
on Arrests in
Four California Cities
A report prepared by the
Council of State Governments Justice Center

JUSTI CE* CENTER
THE COUNCIL OF STATE GOVERNMENTS

Collaborative Approaches to Public Safety

This report was prepared by the Council of State Governments Justice Center. The research and
report were made possible with the generous support of the Public Safety Performance Project of
the Pew Center on the States, the Fund for Nonviolence, the Public Welfare Foundation, and the
Rosenberg Foundation.
The opinions and findings in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily
represent the official position or policies of the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center
on the States, the Fund for Nonviolence, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rosenberg Foundation,
members of the Council of State Governments, participating police and probation agencies, the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or the State of California. The findings have
been reviewed by all funders and participating agencies and are in accordance with the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s standards of ethics in research.
Websites and sources referenced in this publication provided useful information at the time of this
writing. The authors do not necessarily endorse the information of the sponsoring organizations or
other materials from these sources.
Council of State Governments Justice Center, New York 10005
© 2013 by the Council of State Governments Justice Center
All rights reserved.
Cover design and layout by Carrie Cook

CONTENTS
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Box: California Downsizes Its Prison Population . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Summary of Key Findings and Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Box: The Four Jurisdictions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Box: California Sentencing and Supervision Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
Research Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Finding 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
Finding 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Box: About Probation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Finding 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Finding 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Finding 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Box: What Works in Supervision and Risk Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Finding 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Appendix A:

A:

Additional Information Regarding Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Appendix B:

B:

Arrests by Supervision Status for Los Angeles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Appendix C:
Arrests in the Four Jurisdictions by Offense Type and Supervision Status . . . 38

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

T

was made possible by the assistance
and support of many people, organizations, and state and local agencies. First and
foremost, the chiefs of police who made the original research request deserve considerable
acknowledgment: Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department; Chief Rick Braziel
(Ret.), Sacramento Police Department; Chief Jim Bueermann (Ret.) Redlands Police
Department; and District Attorney George Gascón (former San Francisco Chief of Police).
Chief Mark Garcia of the Redlands Police Department and Chief Greg Suhr of San Francisco
Police Department continued the support of their predecessors, Chief Bueermann and
District Attorney Gascón, and ensured the continuity of this research. In each department,
there were several individuals who assisted the research team in bringing the project to
completion, including Assistant Chief Michel Moore and Captain Sean Malinowski of the
Los Angeles Police Department; Dr. Travis Taniguchi, Police Criminologist with the Redlands
Police Department; Ms. Susan Giffin, Chief Information Officer of the San Francisco Police
Department; and Officer Corey Brant of the Sacramento Police Department.
HE RESEARCH THAT INFORMS THE CONTENT OF THIS REPORT

The support and partnership of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
was integral to the success of this project and special thanks are owed to former Secretary
Matthew Cate, Mr. Lee Seale, Director, Division of Internal Oversight and Research, and Ms.
Brenda Grealish, Deputy Director, Office of Research. The project team is particularly grateful
to the county probation representatives from each jurisdiction who helped coordinate and
support this project. The local probation partners provided tremendous assistance with the
support of former Chief Donald Blevins and Deputy Chief Reaver Bingham, Los Angeles
County Probation; Chief Donald Meyer, Sacramento County Probation; Chief Michelle Scray,
San Bernardino County Probation; and Chief Wendy Still, San Francisco Probation. In addition,
the following individuals provided expert research support: Sheriff Lee Baca and Ms. Wendy
Harn, Assistant Director, Crime Analysis Program, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department;
Ms. Jenny Anderson, Systems Development Team Leader, San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department;
Ms. Anesa Cronin, Division Director II, San Bernardino County Probation; Ms. Bella Fudym,
IT Manager, San Francisco Probation; and Mr. Scott Porter, Information Technology Manager,
Sacramento County Probation. Special thanks to Dr. James Austin, President, JFA Associates, for
his invaluable assistance in the early stages of this project.
This study and resulting report would not have been possible without the support that came
from the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, the Fund for
Nonviolence, the Public Welfare Foundation, and the Rosenberg Foundation. Particular thanks
are owed to Mr. Richard Jerome, Manager, and Mr. Ryan King, Research Director, Public Safety
Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States; Ms. Seema Gajwani, Program Officer,
Public Welfare Foundation; Mr. Tim Silard, President, Rosenberg Foundation; and Ms. Betsy
Fairbanks, President, Fund for Nonviolence. The support of these individuals through the life
of the project was invaluable, and we are extremely grateful to them.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

iii

The development of this research project and creation of this report were led by the Justice
Center’s Research Manager Andrew Barbee, Policy Analyst Jennie Simpson, and Director
of Local Initiatives Blake Norton. Also involved were Director Mike Thompson, Deputy
Director Suzanne Brown-McBride, Research Director Dr. Tony Fabelo, Director of State
Initiatives Marshall Clement, Communications Director Robert Coombs, Deputy Director of
Communications Karen Watts, and Publications Editor Christopher Boland. Laura Draper,
who was formerly with the Justice Center, is owed particular thanks for her work at the
beginning of this project.
About the Organizations and Foundations
The Council of State Governments Justice Center
The Council of State Governments Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization that
serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government.
It provides practical, nonpartisan advice and evidence-based, consensus-driven strategies to
increase public safety and strengthen communities.
The Public Safety Performance Project, Pew Center on the States
The Public Safety Performance Project works with states to advance data-driven, fiscally
sound policies and practices in the criminal and juvenile justice systems that protect public
safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs.
The Fund for Nonviolence
The Fund for Nonviolence cultivates and supports efforts to bring about social change that
moves humanity towards a more just and compassionate coexistence. The organization
focuses on social justice for marginalized communities and believes in the transformative
power of nonviolence as a means of inspiring progressive social change.
The Public Welfare Foundation
The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to ensure fundamental rights and
opportunities for people in need. The foundation looks for carefully defined points where
our funds can make a difference in bringing about systemic changes that can improve the
lives of countless people. In its 65-year history, the foundation has distributed nearly $500
million in grants to more than 4,500 organizations.
The Rosenberg Foundation
The Rosenberg Foundation believes that in order for democracy to thrive in our state and
nation, every person in California must have fair and equitable opportunities to participate
fully in the state’s economic, social and political life. Established in 1935, the Foundation has
supported a wide range of initiatives to promote economic inclusion and human rights.
iv

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

The Impact of Probation and Parole Populations
on Arrests in Four California Cities
INTRODUCTION

O

when arresting someone is “Are you
on probation or parole?” and the answer generally expected is “yes.” Given this
expectation, it is understandable for officers on the beat to believe that it is only a matter of
time before people on parole or probation commit a crime. As longstanding and prevalent as
this assumption has been, very little research exists quantifying the extent to which people
under community supervision are, in fact, driving local law enforcement’s arrest activity.
NE OF THE FIRST QUESTIONS A POLICE OFFICER ASKS

Law enforcement executives across the country have been forced to make deep cuts to their
budgets as a result of plunging local tax revenues and shrinking federal funding for local
police departments.1 This has certainly been the case in California. For example, the police
departments in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Redlands experienced significant declines
in funding between 2008 and 2012, which have resulted in, among other things, major
reductions in personnel.2
On top of the fiscal pressures police departments are experiencing, local governments in
California are struggling with the transformation of the state corrections system currently
underway. Compelled by federal court order to address overcrowding in the California prison
system, state policymakers have taken a number of steps to reduce the prison population.
For example, they have mandated that non-violent, non-serious and non-sex offenders serve
their sentences at the local level rather than in state prisons. In addition, state officials have
transferred post-release supervision responsibilities for people convicted of these crimes
already in state prison to county probation officers. As a result of these and other actions,
the number of people incarcerated in state prison has plummeted by nearly 40,000 people,
from more than 173,000 in 2006 3 to fewer than 133,000 in November 2012.4 During the same
timeframe, the state’s parole supervision population has declined by nearly 50 percent, from
almost 120,000 to fewer than 61,000.5
The downsizing of the prison population has enabled the state to address dangerous levels
of overcrowding in its system and to reduce state spending on corrections by billions of
1
“Survey indicates easing of budget cuts in some local police departments, but most are still being cut,” Police Executive Research Forum, accessed December 1, 2012, http://www.policeforum.org/library/
economy/ImpactofeconomiccrisisonpolicingApril2012final.pdf.
2
As was the case for county probation departments, all four jurisdictions experienced staff reductions from 2008 to 2011. See box on pages 8-9, “The Four Jurisdictions.”
3
“The Future of California Corrections Executive Summary,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR), accessed December 1, 2012, http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/2012plan/docs/plan/
exec-summary.pdf.
4
“Monthly Total Population Report Archive,” CDCR, accessed January 11, 2013, http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Reports_Research/Offender_Information_Services_Branch/Monthly/Monthly_Tpop1a_Archive.html
5
Ibid.

INTRODUCTION

1

California Downsizes Its Prison Population
In 1990 and 2001, two class-action lawsuits were filed against the state of California, challenging the constitutionality
of the prison conditions as a result of chronic overcrowding in the state’s 33 prison facilities.6 A federal district courtappointed three-judge panel was convened to review extensive evidence and testimony related to the subject of these
lawsuits, and in August 2009, ordered the state to reduce its prison population to 137.5 percent of capacity. In May
2011, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld this ruling, finding that the court-mandated population cap is
necessary to remedy the violation of prisoners’ constitutional rights. 7
As the lawsuits wound their way through the federal court system, the legislature took steps to reduce the prison
population. Recognizing that parole revocations were a key driver of the prison population, lawmakers enacted Senate
Bill (SB) 18 in 2009, which established a new type of “non-revocable” parole (NRP) for individuals, who, according to
the validated risk assessment tool used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), did
not pose a high risk to reoffend. Additional criteria were included in the statute that a person had to meet to be placed
under NRP. 8 Parole for people under NRP cannot be revoked for any reason; they can only be incarcerated again for
a new crime.9 Also enacted in 2009, SB 678 created the California Community Corrections Performance Incentive
Program, which promoted the use of evidence-based strategies for reducing the rate of failure on probation. SB 678 also
developed a mechanism for providing additional funding to probation departments via corrections expenditure savings
realized through fewer revocations to prison.
When the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2011 made it clear that the federal district court’s earlier rulings would not
be vacated, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill (AB) 109 and AB 117. Known as the 2011 Realignment
Legislation, this law realigned custody responsibilities for a particular class of offenders—those identified as nonviolent, non-serious and non-sex offenders10—from state to local jurisdictions and transferred post-release supervision
responsibilities for this population from state parole officers to county probation officers.11 Starting on October 1, 2011,
eligible offenders began serving their sentences at the local level rather than in state prisons.12
The legislation also stipulated that any parolee whose parole is revoked will serve a term no longer than 180 days in
the county jail (this provision excludes people sentenced to life), and parolees who do not incur any infractions will
be released from parole after six months. The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) will continue to have responsibility for
holding parole revocation hearings until July 1, 2013, at which time it will become a local, court-based process. There
were also several trailer bills passed to provide funding for the Realignment initiative.13

Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011).
Ibid.
8
To be eligible, an individual must meet criteria as established under Penal Code section 3000.03. For these eligibility criteria, see http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Parole/Non_Revocable_Parole/pdf/NonRevocable_Parole_FAQs.pdf.
9
“CDCR implements public safety reforms to parole supervision, expanded incentive credit for inmates,” CDCR, accessed July 26, 2011, http://www.insidecdcr.ca.gov/2010/01/cdcr-implements-publicsafety-reforms-to-parole-supervision-expanded-incentive-credits-for-inmates/.
10
People who are convicted of serious or violent offenses, including sex offenders, are not affected by Realignment and will continue to serve their sentences in state prison and serve their parole terms
under the supervision of state parole officers.
11
“2011 Public Safety Realignment: Fact Sheet,” CDCR, accessed August 23, 2011, http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/About_CDCR/docs/Realignment-Fact-Sheet.pdf.
12
This legislation only affects offenders sentenced on or after October 1, 2011. It does not allow for inmates currently in state prison to be released early; everyone sent to state prison prior to October 1,
2011 will continue to serve their entire sentence in prison. People who are released from a state prison will serve their parole under the supervision of a state parole officer, not at the county level.
13
“Governor Brown signs legislation to improve public safety and empower local law enforcement,” accessed August 23, 2011, http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=16964.
6
7

2

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

dollars. (See box on page 2, “California Downsizes Its Prison Population.”) Some of these
savings have been passed along to the county governments, which must decide what to do
with people who had previously been incarcerated in a state prison or under state parole
supervision. Local law enforcement officials generally have received few of these redirected
funds. Many police chiefs and sheriffs have asserted that the growing numbers of people
released from state prison, combined with supervision responsibility shifting from state to
local government for people convicted of particular offenses, will intensify demands on the
resources of local law enforcement, which are already stretched to the breaking point.
In 2010, Chief Charlie Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department, Chief James
Bueermann of the Redlands Police Department, Chief Rick Braziel of the Sacramento
Police Department, and Chief George Gascón of the San Francisco Police Department
asked the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center) to help
them to determine the extent to which people on probation and parole contribute to the
demands on the resources of local law enforcement, and to identify what opportunities
exist to use data to target their limited resources more effectively. They asked CSG Justice
Center to conduct an unprecedented analysis of arrest, probation, and parole data to
answer these questions:
To what extent do people on probation and parole contribute to crime,
as measured by arrests?
What types of crimes are these people most likely to commit?
Are there particular subsets of people on probation and parole who are most
likely to reoffend? If so, what characteristics do they have in common?
What strategies can law enforcement employ to better respond to the people
being released from prisons and jails to community supervision?
Considerable research exists documenting rearrest or reincarceration rates for people under
probation or parole supervision.14 Little research, however, has been published about the
extent to which people on probation and parole contribute to the overall volume of arrests
in a particular jurisdiction.15 This groundbreaking study addresses this gap in the research.
Researchers had access to separate information systems maintained by multiple independent
agencies. They assembled a vast, comprehensive dataset covering a lengthy time period that
“2012 Outcome Evaluation Report,” CDCR, October 2012, accessed November 23, 2012, http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/ARB_FY_0708_Recidivism_
Report_10.23.12.pdf; “State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons,” Pew Center on the States, (Washington: The Pew Charitable Trusts, April 2011); “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in
1994,” Bureau of Justice Statistics, (Washington: Bureau of Justice Statistics, June 2002).
15
According to peer-reviewed literature, a similar study was conducted in New Orleans in the 1980s. Michael R. Geerken and Hennessey D. Hayes, “Probation and Parole: Public Risk and the Future
of Incarceration Alternatives,” Criminology 31 (1993): 549. The state of New York currently records comparable data (New York Division of Criminal Justice Services Crimestat Report, April 2011),
although the state doesn’t publish analysis of this data. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has also presented similar research as part of its series on processing of felony defendants in state courts. “Felony
Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 2006,” Bureau of Justice Statistics, (Washington: Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2010). It should be noted that the results of these limited studies should not
be compared to one another. As with recidivism studies, slight methodological differences can yield considerable differences in analytical results. A full assessment of these studies’ methodological
differences was not undertaken, so any differences in the accounting of the share of arrests attributable to those under supervision reflected in these studies is not explained in this report.
14

INTRODUCTION

3

is without precedent. Researchers amassed more than 2.5 million adult arrest, probation,
and parole supervision records maintained by 11 different agencies over a 42-month period
stretching from January 1, 2008 to June 30, 2011. Because California does not mandate the
uniform statewide collection of arrest data, each local jurisdiction maintains this information
independently and distinctly. Needless to say, the gathering and matching of records for this
study proved to be a complex undertaking.
The research presented here is not a recidivism study. Researchers did not follow a
particular group of people post-release for a prescribed period of time to determine that
group’s rates of reoffense and compare that number to another, similar group of people
for a similar length of time. The dataset assembled for this study encompassed all people
arrested (as opposed to a narrower universe limited to people released from prison or jail)
during a three-and-a-half-year time period. By using this cohort, which was far larger than
just the number of people under correctional supervision, researchers could learn about
the proportion of arrests that involve people under supervision compared to those not
under supervision, as well as characteristics of the subset of parolees and probationers who
contribute to police arrests.
Figure 1: Current Study Question

All Arrests Made by Law Enforcement

Current Arrest Study
Traditional Recidivism Study
What percent of a group of people
were later arrested?

What percent of all arrests involved
those on supervision?

People on Probation or Parole Supervision

Several aspects of this study make it a particularly valuable contribution to policy discussions
underway not only in California, but in states throughout the country. First, the study focuses
not just on a single municipality, but rather on four jurisdictions of different sizes: Los
Angeles, Redlands, Sacramento, and San Francisco. The number of residents in each of these
cities varies considerably: Los Angeles, for example, has a population of nearly 4 million
compared to Redlands, where approximately 70,000 people live. Collectively, they represent
4

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

a cross-section of California’s diverse populations, police departments, and probation and
parole agencies. (See box on pages 8-9, “The Four Jurisdictions.”) As a result, although the
findings presented here do not reflect a scientific sampling of all jurisdictions in California,
they cannot be dismissed as unique to one particular locality.
Second, the study is especially timely. The period it covers immediately precedes the
implementation of many of the provisions of California’s 2011 Realignment Legislation, which
has redefined the role of local government in the California criminal justice system. So,
although this study is not an assessment of the impact of Realignment on police arrest activity,
the data captured here provide policymakers with a clear understanding of arrest trends up to
the point of Realignment. In so doing, the findings in this report establish a baseline for future
analyses of the impact of Realignment on state and local corrections, supervision, and law
enforcement agencies. (See box on page 2, “California Downsizes Its Prison Population.”)
This study does capture data regarding people placed under non-revocable parole (NRP), a
policy enacted in 2009 and implemented in January 2010, which allowed for the release of
individuals determined to be at low risk of reoffending, on the condition that they could not
be revoked to prison for any reason, including for technical violations of the conditions of
their parole. When this policy was enacted, as with Realignment two years later, it prompted
concern among city and county officials, who predicted frequent situations in which people
who would previously have been returned to prison for violations of the conditions of their
parole would now be left on the streets despite repeated encounters with law enforcement.16
By analyzing how the NRP population contributed to arrest activity, this aspect of the study
offers useful insight into how populations affected by Realignment might impact arrest activity.
Finally, this study was not simply an academic exercise in number crunching, but instead was
the result of an extraordinary and dynamic collaboration among police departments, sheriff’s
departments and probation agencies spanning four counties, and the California Department
of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Policymakers and practitioners alike were engaged
in the development of the methodology for the study, as well as in the collection of data
and review of the data analysis. In addition, line-level officers and supervisors from each
of the four police departments participated in eight focus groups that discussed working
relationships with parole and probation personnel, cross-agency information sharing, and
practical, day-to-day experience with individuals under supervision.
The section following this introduction to the report describes the methodology used
to collect and analyze the data assembled to answer the questions posed by local law
enforcement leaders. Next, the report presents six findings, each containing an overview

Jason Song, “Realignment plan for California prisons causing new friction,” Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2012, accessed December 1, 2012, http://acreentry.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/
Realignment-plan-for-California-prisons-causing-new-friction_LATimes_5-31-12ka.pdf.
Heather Tirado Gilligan, “Effects of change in California criminal justice system difficult to discern,” The Sacramento Bee, October 22, 2012, accessed December 1, 2012,
http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/22/4927963/effects-of-change-in-california.html.
16

INTRODUCTION

5

of the issue that the researchers explored, and a concise description of the approach they
used to analyze relevant data. Facts, figures, and tables that provide the basis for the finding
are also included. The last section of this report provides recommendations that CSG Justice
Center staff developed based on these findings. These recommendations, which do not
necessarily reflect the views of state and local officials who made this study possible, are
intended to help state and local leaders maximize the opportunity presented by the state’s
recent Realignment Initiative to invest in high-impact, long-term strategies to reduce the
strain on law enforcement resources by individuals under supervision who are at high risk
of reoffense.

SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Key Findings
Approximately one in five arrests involved an individual under probation or
parole supervision; the majority of arrests involved people who were not under
supervision. People under supervision accounted for 22 percent of total arrests. Of
those under supervision who were arrested, nearly twice as many were on probation
as on parole.
The extent to which people under probation or parole supervision contributed to
arrest activity varied by jurisdiction. Arrests involving individuals under supervision
varied across the jurisdictions, from 11 percent of all arrests in San Francisco to 30
percent in Sacramento.
People under probation and parole supervision were involved in one in six
arrests for violent crime. On the other hand, one in three arrests for drug crime
involved someone on probation or parole. Of all types of offenses tracked in this
study, people under supervision were more likely to be arrested on drug offenses than
either violent, property, or other arrests.17
From January 2008 to June 2011, the number of arrests made in the four
jurisdictions declined by 18 percent, while the number of arrests of people
under supervision in these jurisdictions declined by 40 percent. In this period,
the number of arrests involving individuals under parole supervision declined by 61
percent and by 26 percent for individuals under probation supervision.
The assessment of a parolee’s risk of reoffense was an effective indicator of the
likelihood that he or she would be rearrested, although the assessment of a
probationer’s risk of reoffense did not effectively predict that individual’s
likelihood to reoffend in three of the four jurisdictions.18 Of the total number of

17
18

6

Examples of Other offenses include vandalism, fugitive from justice for felony arrest, failure to disclose origin of recording, failure to appear in court (non-traffic), driving without a license, and prostitution.
It should be noted that each of the four probation agencies used different risk assessment tools during the period of this study.

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

individuals under parole supervision who were arrested, the majority (51 percent) had
been assessed as high risk for reoffense. For individuals under probation supervision
who were arrested, only 13 percent had been assessed as high risk for reoffense,
while the majority of those arrested had been assessed as moderate and low risk
(35 percent and 33 percent respectively).
Recommendations
Promote the implementation of validated risk assessment tools for each local
probation department to determine which people under community supervision are
most likely to reoffend.
Improve coordination among law enforcement, probation, and parole agencies;
design policies and practices to facilitate sharing of risk assessment results and to
inform how law enforcement professionals use these data.
Provide targeted, evidence-based supervision and treatment strategies for
individuals assessed to be at high risk for reoffense.
Continue analyses of arrest and supervision data to track how people under
supervision are contributing to arrest activity since the implementation of
Realignment.
Improve state’s capacity to share and analyze data among local jurisdictions and
state corrections agencies.

INTRODUCTION

7

The Four Jurisdictions

19

As population centers positioned throughout the state, Los Angeles, Redlands, Sacramento, and San Francisco present
a useful cross-section of California’s diverse populations. Similarly, criminal justice policies and practices, and sentencing
trends vary from one county to the next.20

Los Angeles
Los Angeles City Population: 3,810,129
Los Angeles County Population: 9,858,989
Los Angeles Police Department
Year
Sworn
Civilian
2008
9,743
3,265
2009
9,980
3,215
2010
9,858
2,896
2011
9,860
2,864
Year
Adult Probation Population in Los Angeles County
# Supervised
Per 100K Residents
2008
63,237
641
2009
62,794
637
2010
58,769
596
2011
52,641
534

Total
13,008
13,195
12,754
12,724
Parole Population in Los Angeles County
# Supervised
Per 100K Residents
39,239
398
33,454
339
33,006
335
31,814
323

Redlands
Redlands City Population: 69,231
San Bernardino County Population: 2,052,397
Redlands Police Department
Year
Sworn
Civilian
2008
85
59
2009
82
58
2010
77
40
2011
76
35
Year Adult Probation Population in San Bernardino County
# Supervised
Per 100K Residents
2008
20,289
989
2009
20,077
978
2010
17,931
874
2011
17,925
873

Total
144
140
117
111
Parole Population in San Bernardino County
# Supervised
Per 100K Residents
8,988
438
8,265
403
7,844
382
8,277
403

The information contained in the tables was adapted from the following sources: County and City Population Estimates, California Department of Finance, accessed February 12, 2012,
http://www.dof.ca.gov/research/demographic/reports/view.php#objCollapsiblePanelEstimatesAnchor; U.S. Department of Justice; “Crime in the U.S.,” Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2008-11,
accessed February 12, 2012, http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s; “FY 2007/08-10/11 Annual Reports,” San Bernardino County Probation Department; “FY 2007-2008 Annual
Report,” San Francisco Adult Probation Department; special reports generated by the California Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Los Angeles County Probation Department, Sacramento
County Probation Department, and San Francisco Adult Probation Department.
20
In addition to the rate of supervised residents differing among the four jurisdictions represented in this study, it is critical to note that the approaches to probation supervision practice in each location
are unique to the jurisdiction as well. For example, some departments may more aggressively move certain offenders to low-intensity levels of supervision, whereas other departments may be less
inclined to use administrative forms of supervision.
19

8

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

Sacramento
Sacramento City Population: 469,566
Sacramento County Population: 1,428,355
Sacramento Police Department
Year
Sworn
Civilian
Total
2008
713
365
1,078
2009
700
327
1,027
2010
696
323
1,019
2011
678
269
947
Year
Adult Probation Population in Sacramento County
Parole Population in Sacramento County
# Supervised
Per 100K Residents # Supervised
Per 100K Residents
2008
21,029
1,472
6,074
428
2009
21,604
1,513
5,651
396
2010
21,098
1,477
7,381
517
2011
20,533
1,438
6,665
466

San Francisco
San Francisco City and County Population: 805,235
Note: San Francisco is a consolidated city-county.
San Francisco Police Department
Year
Sworn
Civilian
2008
2,391
382
2009
2,367
486
2010
2,250
379
2011
2,210
440
Year
Adult Probation Population in San Francisco County
# Supervised
Per 100K Residents
2008
6,500
800
2009
6,718
827
2010
6,664
820
2011
6,329
779

Total
2,773
2,853
2,629
2,650
Parole Population in San Francisco County
# Supervised
Per 100K Residents
1,528
188
1,557
192
1,550
191
1,519
187

INTRODUCTION

9

METHODOLOGY

T

HIS STUDY USED THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DATA:

adult arrest, parole, and probation
data. Parole and some arrest data are maintained at the state level; probation data is
managed mostly by county governments.22 No single state agency compiles individual arrest,
probation, and parole records. Consequently, obtaining data for these four jurisdictions
required the collaboration of 11 different agencies.
21

Arrest data covered a 42-month timeframe from January 2008 to June 2011 and reflected
activity by the Los Angeles, Redlands, Sacramento, and San Francisco Police Departments.
The arrest data were obtained from the following sources:
Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department 23
Redlands Police Department and San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department 24
Sacramento Police Department
San Francisco Police Department
The arrest datasets totaled almost 650,000 individual arrest records. For the purposes of
this study, an arrest was defined as an adult (18 years of age or older at the time of arrest)
taken into custody by police and booked into county jail for either a felony or misdemeanor
offense.25 There were no “citation only” events captured, or instances of initially being taken
into custody only to be released prior to any actual booking into jail.
Unlike many states, California has mandatory parole supervision, which means everyone
exiting prison in California is released to community supervision. Therefore, the parole
dataset provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation captures
adults released from state prison going back to the early 1980s and up to June 30, 2011.

This study did not look at any juvenile aspects of arrest activity or parole or probation supervision. Clearly the role of juveniles in crime and supervision is of great importance, but the focus of this study
was only on adults.
22
Parole data are maintained statewide by the CDCR. The Office of the State Attorney General maintains statewide arrest data, which is compiled through information received from individual police
departments. The chiefs who commissioned this study made available their departments’ arrest data; researchers did not determine to what extent state-level arrest data were maintained in a way that
would have allowed for the degree of matching required by this study.
23
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department provided the data used for arrest activity, as the police department does not maintain in electronic data format the critical person identifiers needed for the
data matching required by this study. Jail booking data based on Los Angeles Police Department arrests were provided to satisfy the need for arrest data from this jurisdiction. The jail booking data were
also vetted with and approved by LAPD research staff.
24
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department provided the data used for arrest activity, as the police department does not maintain in electronic data format the critical person identifiers needed for
the data matching required by this study. Jail booking data based on Redlands Police Department arrests were provided to satisfy the need for arrest data from this jurisdiction. The jail booking data were
also vetted with and approved by Redlands Police Department research staff.
25
Arrests made by other law enforcement agents, such as a sheriff’s deputy, are not included in this study. In addition, arrest data collected for this study do not include instances in which a probation or
parole officer took someone into custody because he or she violated a condition of release. The study does include, however, arrests made by police officers for violations of supervision conditions.
21

10

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

The probation data reflected persons supervised on either felony or misdemeanor probation
going back to the 1970s and up to June 30, 2011. Probation data were provided by the
county probation departments where the cities providing arrest data were located.26 The
probation data were obtained from the following sources:
Los Angeles County Probation Department
San Bernardino County Probation Department
Sacramento County Probation Department
San Francisco Adult Probation Department
After receiving the data from the various agencies listed above, CSG Justice Center
researchers carefully matched all parole and probation records to any arrest event in which
the Criminal Identification Indicator (CII) number was involved.27 The matching process
and method of analysis enabled researchers to identify all instances in which the individual
arrested had any parole or probation history (i.e., not just people currently under parole or
probation supervision).
Figure 2: Data Matching Process
Data provided by police
departments and jails

Adult Arrests
Demographics
CII
County ID#
Date of Arrest
Offense Charges

Justice Center
matched data from
CDCR and county
probation
departments with
original arrest data

Arrest data provided to Justice Center who
then forwarded unique CII and County ID data
to CDCR and county probation departments.

CDCR

CDCR

Extracted
raw data
of prison
and parole
records with
matching CII

Extracted
raw data
of probation
records with
matching CII/
County ID

CDCR and county
probation departments
forwarded raw data
to Justice Center.

for analyses.

Court supervision cases, or cases not assigned to the county probation department for supervision, were not included in this study. Also excluded from this study were cases involving individuals on
pretrial supervision, as accessing such datasets was beyond the feasibility of this evaluation.
27
A Criminal Information Indicator (CII) number is used statewide in California to identify persons coming into contact with the criminal justice system and is assigned according to fingerprint.
26

METHODOLOGY

11

In designing this research project, while collecting and analyzing data and in discussing
preliminary findings, the Justice Center project staff conducted dozens of meetings with local
and state officials. Some of these meetings were among people from a particular perspective
(e.g., a meeting among law enforcement officials only) or from a particular jurisdiction. In
other instances, they met with a cross-section of law enforcement and corrections agencies
involved in the project. For example, in October 2011, the Justice Center brought all the
project partners and stakeholders together to review the preliminary analyses. With feedback
provided during this review, additional analyses were conducted and focus groups were
conducted with each police department in February 2012. Focus groups were held with
line-level officers and supervisors from the four participating police departments and were
facilitated by Justice Center law enforcement policy staff and an expert consultant. The final
analyses were completed in May 2012 and vetted through a series of meetings conducted
with the project partners in California in June 2012. In addition to these formal convenings
and meetings, numerous calls were held with project partners and stakeholders to solicit
feedback and review.

12

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

California Sentencing and Supervision Policy
The state of California has a unique sentencing structure; it combines a determinate sentencing scheme with
mandatory parole supervision. Determinate sentencing schemes use sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum
sentences to determine an appropriate sentence. Because of the state’s sentencing structure, the majority of the
state prison population is automatically released at the end of a sentence (more than 80 percent), while the balance
of this population (almost 20 percent) receives indeterminate sentences with release dates determined by the Parole
Board.28 Every person released from state prison is subject to mandatory parole supervision, typically for a period of
three years.29
As a result of this mandatory parole requirement, parole officers supervise a wide range of people on parole who
represent a broad spectrum of risks and needs. Parolees are assigned to one of seven levels of supervision, and the
level determines how frequently he or she must meet with the parole officer. In a comprehensive 2006 overview of
the state of sentencing and parole in California, researchers reported that 65 percent of parolees saw their parole
officer no more than twice every three months and 23 percent saw their parole officer once every three months. Those
parolees who had the highest levels of supervision, such as high-risk sex offenders, had two face-to-face contacts per
month with their parole officer.30
Probation departments are dependent primarily on county funding, so resources for supervision vary by county. As with
parole, probation sentences come with conditions, and people who violate these conditions can have their probation
sentence revoked and be returned to prison or jail, even if the violation does not involve the commission of a new
crime but is instead a technical violation. California probationers fail to complete probation at a rate that is 10 percent
higher than the national success rate for people on probation.31 Each year 19,000 people on probation have their
community supervision revoked and are sent to prison, accounting for 40 percent of all new prison admissions. 32

Joan Petersilia, Understanding California Corrections. (Berkeley: Regents of the University of California, 2006).
Ibid.
30
Ibid.
31
Roger K. Warren, “Probation reform in California: Senate Bill 678,” Federal Sentencing Reporter, 22 (2010): 186.
32
Aaron Rappaport and Kara Dansky, “State of emergency: California’s correctional crisis,” Federal Sentencing Reporter, 22 (2010): 133. Approximately 300,000 people are under probation supervision on
any given day in California. See “Crime in California 2011,” California Department of Justice, accessed December 3, 2012, http://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/pdfs/cjsc/publications/candd/cd11/cd11.pdf.
28
39

METHODOLOGY

13

RESEARCH FINDINGS
FINDING 1
Approximately one in five arrests involved an individual under probation or
parole supervision; the majority of total arrests involved people who were not
under supervision.
A key objective of this study was to determine to what extent people under correctional
supervision drove arrest activity. To make that determination, researchers matched arrest
data with parole and probation supervision data.
Supporting Data
Figure 3: Supervision Status among All Adult Arrestees

Total Adult Arrests

••••••••••
••••••••••
••••••••••
••••••••••
••••••••••
••••••••••
••••••••••
•
••••••••••
•
••••••••••
•••••••••• •

= Probationers

= Parolees

= Not on Supervision

Designation

14

Adult Arrests

% of Total

Total

476,054

100%

Parolees

40,476

8.5%

Probationers

66,251

13.9%

Not Supervised

369,327

77.6%

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

Individuals who were not under parole or probation supervision accounted for
almost 80 percent of all arrests made.
78 percent of total arrests involved individuals who were not currently under
parole or probation supervision.
22 percent of total arrests involved individuals under parole or probation
supervision.
The majority of individuals arrested (62 percent) had no parole or local probation
history; 38 percent had some history of being under supervision.33
6 percent had only parole history.
17 percent had only local county probation history.
15 percent had both parole and local county probation history.
Of those under supervision who were arrested, nearly twice as many were on
probation as on parole.
8 percent of total arrests involved individuals under parole supervision.
14 percent involved individuals under probation supervision.
Conclusion for Finding 1
The data highlighted above challenge assertions often made that the majority of people arrested
are under parole or probation supervision when they come into contact with law enforcement.
Part of the reason people on the front lines of the criminal justice system may have this perception
is because they are factoring in people who were ever under probation or parole supervision
(not just currently under supervision). Even using that more inclusive definition, however, more
than 60 percent of adults arrested had no history of probation or parole supervision.
In focus group meetings, police officers described instances in which they arrested the same
probationer or parolee on multiple occasions. This experience could also contribute to the
sense that arrest activity is driven disproportionately by people on probation or parole.
As explained in Finding 3, some empirical data uncovered during this study support this
observation, but also raise additional questions as to why people under probation and parole
supervision are sometimes arrested multiple times.
Across the four counties represented in the study, there were more than twice as many
people on probation (107,000) as on parole (52,000) on any given day during the study.34 So
Local probation history was available only for the county in which the arrest was made.
“FY 2007/08-10/11 Annual Reports,” San Bernardino County Probation Department; “FY 2007-2008 Annual Report,” San Francisco Adult Probation Department; special reports generated by the
California Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Los Angeles County Probation Department, Sacramento County Probation Department, and San Francisco Adult Probation Department.

33
34

RESEARCH FINDINGS

15

the fact that the number of arrests involving people on probation outnumbered the number
of people on parole is not surprising. When accounting for their percentage of overall
arrests, parolees were slightly more likely than probationers to contribute to arrest activity.
As is explained under Finding 3, this was the case because parolees were more likely than
probationers to be arrested for a violation of a condition of their supervision.
Although just 22 percent of adults arrested were under community supervision, this still
represents a significant number of arrests each year across the four jurisdictions. Over the
course of the study, the number of arrests involving people under probation or parole
supervision fell from approximately 37,000 in 2008 to 30,000 in 2010 (the decline in the arrests
over the study period is explored in Finding 4). In short, the greatest drops in arrests will be
realized by reducing crime committed by people who are not already under probation or
parole supervision. To that end, learning more about the characteristics of the people not under
supervision who are arrested (especially for particular crimes) should be a research priority for
these four police departments, and law enforcement agencies everywhere. At the same time,
because the number of arrests in which people on probation and parole are involved in a
given year is significant, any crime reduction strategy should include targeted efforts to improve
success rates among people under probation and parole supervision.

FINDING 2
The extent to which people under probation or parole supervision contributed
to arrest activity varied by jurisdiction.
With the matched arrest, probation, and parole data, researchers were able to identify the
number of individuals on probation or parole supervision at the time of arrest in each of the
four jurisdictions. How common it is for a person to be under probation or parole supervision
depends on the jurisdiction.
For example, the percentage of the population under probation supervision in Sacramento
is nearly 1.5 times the percentage of the population under probation supervision in San
Francisco. Likewise, the percentage of the population under parole supervision in Los Angeles
is more than 1.5 times greater than the percentage of the population under parole supervision
in San Francisco. (See box on pages 8-9,“The Four Jurisdictions.”)
Another important variable was that, unlike parole, which is administered by the state,
one jurisdiction to the next. (See boxes on pages 8-9, “The Four Jurisdictions,” and on page
18, “About Probation.”) For these reasons, researchers were interested in exploring whether
and to what extent arrest activity involving people under supervision was consistent across the
four jurisdictions.

16

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

Supporting Data
Figure 4: Supervision Status among All Adult Arrestees by Jurisdiction

Adult Arrests
(Felony + Misdemeanor)
476,054
NO SUPERVISION

ON PAROLE

ON PROBATION

at time of arrest

at time of arrest

at time of arrest

LA 76%

LA 9%

LA 14%

RED 78%

RED 9%

RED 13%

SAC 70%

SAC 10%

SAC 20%

SF 89%

SF 3%

SF 8%

Arrests of individuals not under parole or probation supervision ranged from
70 percent of all arrests in Sacramento to 90 percent in San Francisco.
Almost 10 percent of arrests in Los Angeles, Redlands, and Sacramento involved
individuals on parole; in San Francisco, 3 percent of arrests involved
individuals on parole.
In Sacramento, 20 percent of arrests involved individuals on probation; 8 percent of
arrests involved individuals on probation in San Francisco.
Conclusion for Finding 2
The statistics highlighted above reflect that, by some measures, the extent to which people
under supervision contributed to arrest activity was somewhat comparable across the
four jurisdictions. On the other hand, some differences were noteworthy. For example,
probationers and parolees made up as little as 10 percent of all arrests in San Francisco
and as much as 30 percent in Sacramento.
At least some of this variation corresponds to the difference in the percentage of people
under community supervision in these jurisdictions. But the percentage of people under
community supervision does not, by itself, explain the variation. For example, the
percentage of people under parole supervision in Los Angeles is 30 percent greater than
the percentage of people under parole supervision in San Francisco, but parolees make
up three times as many arrests in Los Angeles (9 percent of all arrests) as they do in San
Francisco (3 percent).

RESEARCH FINDINGS

17

Nothing from the focus group meetings signaled markedly different philosophies among the
departments about how police interact with people on probation and parole, which could have
helped explain this disparity. To examine this issue more carefully, further research should be
conducted to address the extent to which each of the jurisdictions varied along the following
dimensions: parole and, in particular, probation policies and practices; police practices vis-à-vis
probation and parole; and the availability, accessibility, and quality of community-based treatment.

About Probation
Whereas parole is a state function administered by a single state agency (e.g., the CDCR), individual probation agencies
are run by county government. Each has distinct approaches to probation supervision, influenced by factors such as how
judges in that county use probation and the conditions they set when sentencing someone to probation. Supervision
practices also vary. For example, probation departments will often have different supervision levels and different
protocols for determining the level of supervision on which an individual is placed. These levels can range from extensive
supervision to “banked” or administrative cases and vary considerably across departments. According to interviews with
local probation administrators, approximately 96 percent of Sacramento Probation Department’s caseload is banked, with
4 percent of the adult probation population receiving what would be considered “active” supervision.
How probation officers are deployed also varies from one probation department to the next. For example, some locales may
assign specialized caseloads where only some officers handle high-risk cases, yet others may blend caseloads such that all
officers have a general mixture of low- to high-risk clients. Some departments even have probation officers who specialize in
assessment of risk/needs factors or are devoted to providing in-house treatment and resources to probation clients.

FINDING 3
People under probation and parole supervision were involved in one in six
arrests for violent crime. On the other hand, one in three arrests for drug crime
involved someone on probation or parole.

arrests, especially those involving weapons.35 Accordingly, researchers sought to determine to what
extent people on probation and parole contributed to arrests for violent crime. In conducting this
analysis, researchers focused on the most serious offense for which the person was arrested.

to which particular individuals are arrested repeatedly. Many of the statistics highlighted in
this report describe arrest events. Because many individuals were arrested more than once

35

Violent offenses are based on the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports definitions and also include weapons offenses.

18

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

during this study period, researchers studied those adults arrested on multiple occasions
during the study period to determine the extent to which those people were under parole or
probation supervision.
Supporting Data
Figure 5: Offense Type by Supervision Status
Total Adult Arrests (Felony and Misdemeanor)
for All Four Jurisdictions*
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Total

476,054

40,476

66,251

369,327

Violent

94,179

5,195

10,084

78,900

Property

56,117

4,110

8,875

43,132

Drug

120,253

12,342

28,666

79,245

DUI

40,705

538

1,394

38,773

Other**

150,554

6,995

14,282

129,277

Par/Prob
Violation***

14,246

11,296

2,950

—

misdemeanor arrests are located in Appendix C to this report.
** Examples of Other offenses include vandalism, fugitive from justice for felony arrest, failure to disclose origin

Among arrests of individuals under supervision, drug arrests represented more than
twice the percentage of total arrests as violent arrests.
16 percent of violent offense arrests involved individuals who were under parole or
probation supervision.
34 percent of drug arrests involved individuals under parole or probation
supervision.

a person on parole.
79 percent of violation arrests involved individuals on parole.
21 percent of violation arrests involved individuals on probation.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

19

Figure 6: Drug and All Other Arrests by Supervision Status

Drug Arrests

All Other Arrests

(120,253)

(355,801)

10%
8%

66%
24%

NO SUPERVISION

82%

11%

ON PAROLE

ON PROBATION

Conclusion for Finding 3
The data presented above raise an interesting question: why are people on probation and
parole contributing to a significantly greater share of drug arrests than they are to violent
arrests? One factor to consider is the high prevalence of substance abuse and mental health
disorders among people under parole and probation supervision, and the fact that many of
these people do not receive treatment for these needs while in the community.36
Line-level police officers and supervisors participating in focus group meetings expressed
frustration with the insufficient availability of substance abuse treatment and mental health
services for people on probation or parole. Focus group meetings with police officers raised
another potential reason why people under supervision contributed to a greater share of
drug arrests: when coming into contact with a person on probation or parole, police have
search and seizure authority, allowing them to search the person for drugs or weapons.
A second question raised by the data described above, and that should prompt additional
research, is why parolees are four times as likely as people under probation supervision to be
arrested for violations of the conditions of their release. This is notable because probationers
constitute twice as many arrests for violent, property, and drug crimes as parolees.
These two questions notwithstanding, the statistics highlighted above point to substantial
opportunities for police, probation, and parole to reduce the extent to which people on
probation and parole contribute to arrest activity. National research has clearly demonstrated
that the right level of probation or parole supervision, combined with substance abuse treatment
Thomas E. Feucht and Joseph Gfoerer, “Mental and Substance Use Disorders among Adult Men on Probation or Parole: Some Success against a Persistent Challenge,” Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration Date Review, 2011, accessed December 3, 2012, http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k11/NIJ_Data_Review/MentalDisorders.htm).

36

20

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

that corresponds to the severity of that person’s addiction, can have a significant impact on
the likelihood of a person on probation or parole reoffending.37 Accordingly, because a large
share of the arrest activity of people under parole and probation supervision stems from drugrelated issues, there is a significant potential for realizing a reduction in total arrests through the
application of evidence-based practices in probation and parole.38

FINDING 4
From January 2008 to June 2011, the number of arrests made in the four
jurisdictions declined by 18 percent, while the number of arrests of people
under supervision in these jurisdictions declined by 40 percent.
According to the most recent state-published crime data, reported crime in California declined 11
percent between 2008 and 2011.39 Similarly, each of the four jurisdictions studied experienced drops
in crime during the same period, ranging from a decline of 7 percent in Redlands to a decline of
19 percent in Sacramento.40 In this study, which uses arrests as a measure of crime, researchers
sought to determine whether the arrest patterns among people on probation or parole mirrored
the decline in arrests generally across the four jurisdictions. Percent change was calculated based

Supporting Data
Figure 7: Arrest Trends in the Four Jurisdictions
Adult Arrests in the Four Jurisdictions
January 2008 - June 2011

Tolal
Arrests
15,000

Parolee/Probalioner
Ar resls
3,000

2,500

2,000

1,500

Probationer
Arrests

5,000

2,500

1,000

500

Parolee Arrests

o
08

n-

Ja

8

8

8

r-0

Ap

l-0

Ju

t-0

Oc

09

n-

Ja

9

9

r-0

Ap

l-0

Ju

9

t-0

Oc

10

n-

Ja

0

r-1

Ap

0

0

l-1

Ju

t-1

Oc

11

n-

Ja

1
r-1

Ap

Elizabeth K. Drake, Steve Aos, and Marna Miller, “Evidence-Based Public Policy Options to Reduce Crime and Criminal Justice Costs: Implications in Washington State,” Victims and Offenders 4 (2009).
For a detailed analysis of multiple arrests by type of offense and supervision status in Los Angeles, see Appendix B.
39
“Crime in California 2011,” California Department of Justice, accessed December 3, 2012, http://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/pdfs/cjsc/publications/candd/cd11/cd11.pdf.
40
Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the U.S. 2008 and 2011,” accessed October 4, 2012, http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/crimestats.
37
38

RESEARCH FINDINGS

21

Arrests involving individuals under parole supervision declined by 61 percent. The
reduction in arrests of people under probation supervision also outpaced the decline

From January 2008 to May 2011, the total number arrests across all four
jurisdictions declined by 18 percent.
In the same period, the total number of arrests for all individuals under
supervision declined by 40 percent.
The total number of arrests involving individuals under parole supervision declined
by 61 percent and by 26 percent for those under probation supervision.
Figure 8: Change in Supervision Populations and Related Arrests, 2008, 2011
Jurisdiction

2008

2008

% Change

Los Angeles

8,449

7,289

-14%

12,489

10,745

-14%

1,002

327

-67%

63,237

52,641

-17%

1,359

843

-38%

135

130

-3%

241

156

-35%

Arrests - Parolees

Arrests - Probationers
Redlands

Arrests - Parolees

Arrests - Probationers
Sacremento

Arrests - Parolees

Arrests - Probationers
San Fransisco

Arrests - Parolees

Arrests - Probationers
Four
jurisdictions
together

Arrests - Parolees

Arrests - Probationers

16

9

-48%

20,289

17,925

-12%

21

15

-30%

1,936

1,561

-19%

3,228

3,779

-16%

203

128

-37%

21,029

20,533

-2%

401

308

-23%

2,171

1,475

-32%

1,171

1,680

+7%

64

35

-46%

6,500

6,329

-3%

70

212

+201%

12,691

10,455

-18%

17,526

16,320

-7%

1,285

498

-61%

111,055

97,428

-12%

1,850

1,378

-26%

2008 and 2011 across the four jurisdictions represented in this study. In addition to depicting arrests in
total and for parole and probationer groups, the average number of people supervised on parole and
changing arrest volume and the changing number of people supervised on parole or probation.

Conclusion for Finding 4
Although all four jurisdictions experienced a decrease in total arrests over the period of
this study, arrests for people under supervision declined much more significantly than for
individuals not under supervision. Factoring in the 7-percent decline in the number of people
on parole and the 12-percent drop in the probation population over the study period also
does not entirely explain the steep reductions in arrests among people under supervision.
22

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

Particularly notable was the plummeting number of arrests among people under parole
supervision. The implementation of non-revocable parole (NRP), which was not in full effect
for more than two-thirds of the study period covered, does not explain this particular trend.
Furthermore, for the period when NRP was in effect during the study period, this subset
of parolees was a small fraction of the general parole population. (See box on page 2,
“California Downsizes Its Prison Population” and Finding 6 on page 27) Instead, what merits
closer analysis are the concentrated efforts employed by CDCR administrators that coincided
with the drop in arrests. The development and implementation of a validated risk assessment
instrument to guide release decisions and the use of risk assessment results informed the
allocation of supervision and treatment resources. These efforts were consistent with efforts in
other jurisdictions that have improved success rates for people under community supervision.
Although these data suggest the increased effectiveness of local probation departments and state
parole in California, focus group meetings with police officers reflected that they did not perceive
that these community supervision agencies were becoming more successful in reducing crimes
committed by people on probation and parole. Instead, law enforcement officers stated that
probation and parole officers were under significant pressure to reduce revocation rates. That
pressure in turn meant that, unlike in years past, people on parole and probation supervision
who engaged in certain types of criminal behavior were not being returned to prison.
Research has demonstrated that for probation and parole to be successful in changing people’s
behavior, effective supervision strategies (such as intensive supervision of high-risk individuals,
addressing criminal thinking and other needs such as substance abuse, and swift and certain
responses to violation behavior) must be applied. But regardless of how rich this research is—
and what the data in California may indicate—its practical value depends in no small part on
the willingness of law enforcement to partner with probation and parole agencies to help this
population succeed in the community. On the other hand, if law enforcement doesn’t believe
that it’s possible for parole and probation officers to have a meaningful impact on the behavior of
people under supervision, they will perceive anyone under probation or parole supervision to
be a threat to public safety, to which arrest and revocation are the only effective response.

FINDING 5
The assessment of a parolee’s risk of reoffense was an effective indicator of
the likelihood that he or she would be rearrested, although the assessment of
a probationer’s risk of reoffense did not effectively predict that individual’s
likelihood to reoffend in three of the four jurisdictions.
Over the past several years, CDCR and local probation departments have taken steps to ensure the
use of validated risk assessment tools in targeting supervision strategies and resources. For this
study, researchers sought to determine whether risk assessment results were indeed a useful tool to
determine which people under supervision were contributing disproportionately to arrest activity.
RESEARCH FINDINGS

23

Whereas CDCR had fully implemented a risk assessment instrument and recorded these data
consistently in parolees’ individual records, local probation departments were at different
stages in the implementation of risk assessment over the study period.41 Probation departments
also maintained data about risk assessment results differently.

data with data from supervision agencies describing individuals’ risk assessment results.
Although this analysis did not amount to an evaluation of risk assessment practices, it did
by the various departments in the different jurisdictions.
Supporting Data
Figure 9: Risk Levels by Supervision Status across All Jurisdictions

Felony Arrests*

*January 2008 – June 2011

267,006

70%
NO SUPERVISION

12%
ON PAROLE

18%
ON PROBATION

188,482

31,391

47,133

{
{
distribution of the 12% that are parolees

D

distribution of the 18% that are probationers

Low
Risk

Mod
Risk

High
Risk

Low
Risk

Mod
Risk

(13%)

(33%)

(51%)

(33%)

(35%)

D
High
Risk

(13%)

For individuals under parole supervision who were arrested, CDCR risk assessment
data was a strong indicator of reoffense, particularly for high-risk individuals.
The majority of individuals on parole supervision who were arrested had been
identified as high risk by CDCR:
o 51 percent of all parolee arrests were people whom CDCR had
categorized as high risk
o 33 percent as moderate risk
o 13 percent as low risk
41

The status of the implementation of risk assessment continued to vary from county to county through the close of 2012. See box on page 26, “What Works in Supervision and Risk Assessment.”

24

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

In three of the four jurisdictions, risk level was a less effective indicator of
reoffense for individuals under probation supervision.42
The majority of individuals under probation supervision who were arrested had not
been identified as high risk in three of the four jurisdictions:
5 percent were categorized as “high risk” by local county probation
departments
38 percent were categorized as moderate risk
37 percent as low risk
A clear exception to the overall trend indicated above, San Francisco’s risk
assessment data was highly predictive of reoffense. Of the individuals on probation
supervision in San Francisco who were arrested:
73 percent were categorized as high risk by the San Francisco county
probation department
11 percent were categorized as moderate risk
2 percent as low risk
Conclusion for Finding 5
Since 2006, CDCR has made a concerted effort to employ evidence-based supervision
practices, including the use of a validated risk assessment tool to assign individuals on
parole to appropriate treatment and supervision. Based on the study data, individuals
under parole supervision identified as high risk represented the majority of parolee
arrests, which is consistent with their risk-level determination and suggests that CDCR’s
validated risk assessment instrument was able to successfully identify individuals most
likely to reoffend.
Line-level police officers and supervisors in focus groups noted that people under parole
coming out of state prison historically have had longer, more violent criminal histories
than people sentenced directly to probation supervision.43 This observation, while
accurate, does not justify a conclusion that all people on parole present a similar risk of
reoffense. Validated risk assessment instruments enable community supervision authorities
to disaggregate that population into approximately three to four tiers of risk, with the
distribution of people into these being fairly even across risk levels.44

During the period of this study, the four probation departments were at various stages in the adoption and use of risk assessment instruments. For example, the Sacramento Probation Department did
not adopt a validated risk assessment tool until November 2009.
43
Law enforcement officers in San Francisco noted in focus group discussions that it was particularly difficult for someone in that city to end up on parole supervision—an observation supported by the
data showing that far fewer residents were under parole supervision in San Fransisco than in the other four jurisdictions. See box on pages 8-9, “The Four Jurisdictions.”
44
Notably, the arrest distribution of people across risk levels in some probation departments was not even, with a disproportionately large share of probationers clustering in a particular risk level. Such
situations do not necessarily reflect that the overall probation population is “high risk,” but rather that the risk assessment tool is not effectively disaggregating the population.
42

RESEARCH FINDINGS

25

Trends in arrest data are less consistent with risk levels determined by probation departments
in this study. Since the end of the data collection period in 2011, probation executives
have identified the use of validated risk instruments as a priority and are working towards
increasing capacity in this area.
This finding points to valuable opportunities for law enforcement to leverage risk assessment
information regarding parolees and, as it becomes more reliable, for people under probation
supervision. Interestingly, focus group meetings reflected that law enforcement officers were often
unfamiliar with risk assessment tools or the value of this information. The community supervision
information that police reported receiving was generally limited to whether a person was under
supervision and his or her address, although that information was not routinely available. If it was
available, it was not necessarily reliable. Furthermore, when law enforcement officers were asked
in focus group meetings about risk assessment data, they typically assumed the question referred
to a person’s custody level while incarcerated, which is useful for determining how a person will
behave while incarcerated but is of little value in determining whether a person will reoffend
while in the community.

What Works in Supervision and Risk Assessment
Reviewing a growing body of knowledge and experience about what practices work in supervision, experts point to four core
practices that are essential to success in reducing recidivism. Based on current best practices, supervision agencies should:
1. Effectively assess individuals’ criminogenic risk and needs, as well as their strengths
(also known as “protective factors”);
2. Employ smart, tailored supervision strategies;
3. Use incentives and graduated sanctions to respond promptly to clients’ behaviors;
4. Implement performance-driven personnel management practices that promote and reward
recidivism reduction.45
Validated criminogenic risk assessment tools are especially effective in helping to gauge the likelihood that an individual
will come in contact with the criminal justice system, either through a new arrest and conviction or reincarceration for
violating conditions of release. Use of these instruments allows the corrections system to prioritize supervision and
treatment resources for those individuals who pose the greatest risk of reoffense. Risk assessment tools usually consist
of 10 to 30 questions designed to ascertain an individual’s history of criminal behavior, attitudes and personality, and
life circumstances. Risk assessments can be administered at any time during a person’s contact with the criminal
justice system, from first appearance through presentencing, on admission to a correctional facility, prior to release, and
during post-release supervision. Risk assessments help categorize individuals as being at low, medium, or high risk for
reoffense, and predict the likelihood of future outcomes according to analysis of static factors (e.g., criminal history) and
dynamic factors (e.g., behavioral health or addiction).

45

Tony Fabelo, Geraldine Nagy, and Seth Prins, A Ten-Step Guide to Transforming Probation Departments to Reduce Recidivism (New York: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2011).

26

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

FINDING 6
Individuals on Non-Revocable Parole (NRP) supervision had almost no impact
on overall arrest activity during the study period.
In January 2010, pursuant to SB18, the CDCR instituted a parole supervision policy known
Population.”) To be eligible for NRP, a person released from prison had to be assessed as
being at a lower-risk of reoffending and could not have a criminal conviction for various
serious offenses (e.g., sex offenses, murder, voluntary manslaughter, robbery, 1st degree
burglary). Releases of prisoners to NRP began in earnest in March 2010. By the end of April
2010, almost 9,000 people had been released statewide (not just in the four jurisdictions
studied) to the community on NRP. Approximately six months later, CDCR reported that NRP
had been fully implemented; by that time, there were 16,500 people on NRP in communities
across California. Accordingly, this study incorporated NRP data from March 2010 through
June 2011, the last month of data collected for this study. Taking into account this context,
there were approximately 2,000 people on average under NRP supervision in Los Angeles,
Sacramento, San Francisco, and Redlands on a given day during the year-plus period in
the study period that overlapped with the implementation of NRP. Because a steady stream
of people were released to NRP over the study period and because people concluded their
supervision requirements during the time period, the total number of individuals who
experienced NRP during the study period far exceeded 2,000.
Supporting Data
Individuals under NRP supervision accounted for less than 0.2% of total arrests.
Of the 170,336 adult arrests that occurred in the four jurisdictions during the
15-month period of the study that overlapped with the implementation of NRP,
216 arrests involved people on NRP.
Conclusion for Finding 6
Data produced elsewhere showing the decline in the state parole population and the
number of parole revocations reflect that NRP has likely contributed significantly to
reduced crowding in the state prison system. The data described above reflect that for
at least the 15 months in which it was in effect during the study period, NRP did not
contribute meaningfully to arrest activity in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, or
Redlands. Based on these data, NRP appeared to be an effective approach to managing
a subset of people on parole that resulted in little, if any, impact on crime rates. The

RESEARCH FINDINGS

27

data cited above, however, are insufficient to make any conclusive statements about NRP
because the timeframe of this study contemplating NRP was relatively brief. Additional
analysis should be conducted to determine whether the outcomes described above persist
over a longer time period.
Furthermore, in focus group discussions, line-level officers and supervisors across the four
police jurisdictions expressed some frustration with NRP. They observed that people under
NRP felt “empowered.” Aware that the threshold for returning to prison was considerably
higher than if they under traditional parole supervision, they exhibited little concern about
their parole status. This dynamic made it particularly frustrating for police, who said they
came into frequent contact with people under NRP, but felt there was a certain degree of
futility in arresting them for behaviors that would not result in a revocation and for crimes
that the District Attorney would be unlikely to prosecute.
As discussed elsewhere in the report, police, parole, and probation officials and
prosecutors would clearly benefit from additional efforts to build consensus about what
types of responses to what types of behavior would in fact have the greatest impact on
public safety. Such consensus-building conversations are especially important as local
law enforcement shifts its attention (and concerns) from CDCR’s use of NRP to the state’s
realignment of responsibility for supervising certain categories of offenders to local
government.

28

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

RECOMMENDATIONS

B

ASED ON THE FINDINGS OF THIS STUDY,

focus groups with line-level officers and supervisors
from all four jurisdictions, and discussions with top officials, CSG Justice Center staff
has identified five recommendations for state and local officials seeking to maximize the
impact of state and local governments’ limited resources on public safety:
1. Promote the implementation of validated risk assessment tools for each local
probation department to determine which people under community supervision are
most likely to reoffend.
Findings reflected that risk assessment results generated by CDCR parole and some
probation departments appeared to be accurate predictors of reoffense. State and local
governments need to ensure that all probation departments get similar value from their
risk assessment tools. To that end, these agencies must make a commitment to use risk
assessment instruments that are validated, used correctly, and inform the targeting and
deployment of supervision resources.
2. Improve coordination among law enforcement, probation, and parole agencies;
design policies and practices to facilitate sharing of risk assessment results and to
inform how law enforcement use these data.
Line-level law enforcement officers reported receiving little, if any, routine information
about the people in the communities they patrol who are on probation or parole.
Police officers similarly described efforts to retrieve accurate, useful data from existing
information systems about individual parolees and probationers as challenging, timeconsuming, and generally fruitless.
Police officers interviewed expressed appreciation that parole and probation officers,
saddled with high caseloads, were doing the best they could with the limited resources
they had. At the same time, they lamented that community supervision officers frequently
seemed inaccessible. Because parole and probation officers did not work the same 24-hour
shift schedule as their counterparts in police departments, officers working the evening
or midnight shifts or on the weekend predictably found it nearly impossible to reach a
parole or probation officer at his or her desk during these hours. Furthermore, it came as
no surprise that given these unaligned schedules, and the increasingly stretched resources
of community supervision agencies generally, police officers described a perception
commonly held among law enforcement officers that parole and probation officers were
rarely visible in the community.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

29

In short, according to focus groups with police, what information exchange and
communication did occur between law enforcement and probation and parole were ad
hoc at best, and typically depended on personal relationships. For example, some officers
highlighted specific individuals in local parole and probation offices as particularly
accessible, noting that they had their cellphone numbers.
Individual police departments across the United States have successfully navigated some
of these challenges, working with probation and parole to reduce reoffense rates among
people with violent offense histories.46 But these efforts are isolated and the extent to
which they have been replicated varies significantly from one jurisdiction to the next.
Furthermore, few, if any, police departments anywhere have had the opportunity to
explore how they might leverage risk assessment data from community corrections
agencies, which could be a tremendous resource to local law enforcement. Accurate risk
assessment results could enhance significantly the data that law enforcement executives
use to deploy resources to prevent criminal activity.
Law enforcement leaders in California have received national recognition for their
application of intelligence-led and hot-spot policing. This emphasis on data to inform the
allocation of limited policing resources, coupled with the new pressures that Realignment
has created for local governments, make California an ideal laboratory to design and test
new approaches to coordinating the work of police and community supervision agencies
and to sharing risk assessment data and police intelligence to inform the deployment of
patrol and supervision resources.
3. Provide targeted, evidence-based supervision and treatment to adults assessed to
be at high risk for reoffense.
Although people under supervision contribute to just over one out of every five arrests,
this fraction still translates into thousands of arrests in these four jurisdictions annually.
Analyses conducted for this study highlighted that a disproportionately large share of those
arrests are for drug crimes, which in turn generate significant costs for jails, courts, and
supervision agencies.
National research has demonstrated the potential that parole and probation departments
have to reduce re-arrest rates of people who are at high risk of reoffending. Equipped
with effective risk assessment tools, local jurisdictions and supervision agencies must
use this information to inform supervision strategies that provide, for example, high-risk
Anthony Braga, “Controlling Violent Offenders Released to the Community: An Evaluation of the Boston Reentry Initiative,” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 46 (2009): 411-436.
Adam K. Katz, Matthew T. DeMichele, and Nathan C. Lowe, “Police-Probation/Parole Partnerships: Responding to Local Street Gang Problems,” The Police Chief 79 (October 2012): 24-38.
Bitna Kim, Jurg Gerber, and Dan Richard Beto, “Listening to Law Enforcement Officers: The Promises and Problems of Police-Probation Partnerships,” Journal of Criminal Justice 38 no. 4 (2010):
625-632.
46

30

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

people with closer supervision and treatment programming. Such approaches have been
shown to reduce recidivism by up to 20 percent.47 Most community supervision agencies
in California are quick to say that they are in the process of employing such evidencebased approaches to intensive supervision and treatment. Policymakers, in partnership
with community corrections officials and local law enforcement, should take steps to
assess, objectively, the progress local governments are making in adopting these strategies
and the results they are getting. In doing so, they should identify gaps in resources at
the local level that impede the employment of evidence-based approaches to community
supervision and treatment.48
4. Continue analyses of arrest and supervision data to track how people under
supervision are contributing to arrest activity since the implementation of
Realignment.
Extraordinary collaboration among four police departments, four probation departments,
CDCR, and other agencies made the unprecedented collection and analysis of data for
this study possible. The insights that this study yielded are invaluable. In addition, this
study has established a baseline of arrest data essential to determine to what extent
trends evolve in the years following this study. Local and state officials reading this study
will likely speculate how arrest patterns among people under supervision have changed
since June 2011 (the last month of data collected for this study), particularly given the
subsequent implementation of Realignment. To ensure such observations are not based on
anecdotal information, but instead are data-driven, local and state officials should leverage
the investment made to date to continue these analyses and to inform the deployment of
resources in both policing and supervision.
5. Improve state’s capacity to share and analyze data among local jurisdictions and
state corrections agencies.
The collection and analysis of the data for this report was an especially complex
undertaking. No comprehensive statewide standards exist in California to ensure that
individual jurisdictions or supervision agencies collect and maintain data uniformly. Nor is
there a practical system for sharing data among the organizations that maintain separate
data systems. Consequently, obtaining and matching the data required for an analysis
such as the one conducted in this study requires a Herculean effort. For this project
alone, eleven different databases had to be tapped to study four jurisdictions. Given the
challenges associated with collecting the data, expanding this study to cover the entire
state would have been even more daunting.
Elizabeth K. Drake, Steve Aos, and Marna Miller, “Evidence-Based Public Policy Options to Reduce Crime and Criminal Justice Costs: Implications in Washington State,” Victims and Offenders 4 (2009):
170.
48
Various publications provide guidance on how such assessments might be conducted. See, for example: Tony Fabelo, Geraldine Nagy, and Seth Prins, A Ten-Step Guide to Transforming Probation
Departments to Reduce Recidivism (New York: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2011).
47

RESEARCH FINDINGS

31

In contrast, other big states such as New York and Texas would be well positioned to
conduct statewide versions of this analysis. There, robust statewide information systems,
which maintain law enforcement and community supervision data, make it possible to
match individual arrest, parole, and probation records and to track trends involving these
populations on a regular basis.
California should make the investment necessary to build an infrastructure for collecting
and storing these critical criminal justice data. Such infrastructure would include
requirements for law enforcement agencies, probation departments, and the CDCR to
submit data regularly that include electronic case records reflecting arrest activity and
supervision by parole and probation departments. To ensure information can be shared
effectively among these agencies, for research and operational purposes, data need to
be recorded consistently. For example, individual CII numbers need to be maintained
consistently to support data matching undertaken for research purposes.
Even with commitments by law enforcement, probation, and parole agencies to share
these critical data, it is likely that a single entity would have to be designated as a central
point of collection for the data. There may already exist multiple candidates for acting as
the repository of the data, but they would have to be responsible for the dissemination of
the data to appropriate parties for basic reporting and other research purposes, such as
analyses relating to the findings presented in this report.

32

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

CONCLUSION

T

to
determine how individuals under probation and parole supervision impact law
enforcement resources. Their willingness to make available hundreds of thousands of
arrest records and to dedicate staff at all levels of their agencies to inform the study’s
methodology and to review preliminary findings is a testament to these executives’
commitment to ensure that data and research, not just anecdotal experience, drive policy
and practice. The cooperation provided by the CDCR and local probation officials in this
study—through their willingness to share data, advise on analyses, and review drafts
of this report—demonstrates just how much they value their partnership with local law
enforcement agencies. In short, this undertaking is a model for joint ventures for state and
local governments everywhere.
HIS STUDY WAS COMMISSIONED BY LEADING LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS IN CALIFORNIA

A key takeaway from this report is that about one in five people arrested in four
metropolitan areas in California were under parole or probation supervision when they
came into contact with police. And when compared to the almost 80 percent of arrests
that did not involve people under community supervision, people under probation and
parole supervision made up a disproportionately large share of drug arrests. These figures
may surprise law enforcement officials and people on the front lines of the criminal justice
system who, prior to seeing these findings, perceived people on probation and parole to
be a primary driver of police arrest activity. In fact, these findings illustrate that, to achieve
the largest reductions in crime, resources must effectively target the 80 percent of people
arrested (and the places where they are committing crimes) who are not under community
supervision.
At the same time, the findings demonstrate that there is a subset of people on probation
and parole contributing disproportionately to drug, property, and violent crime. Research
presented here reflects that risk assessment instruments employed by community supervision
agencies provide an invaluable tool to predict which of the hundreds of thousands of people
under parole and probation supervision on any given day are most likely to reoffend. This
is a critically important development: Law enforcement resources are already stretched
past the breaking point and must not be diluted further by approaching probationers and
parolees as a monolithic group to be policed similarly. Working with community supervision
agencies to use risk assessment information to inform their policing strategies could help
law enforcement accomplish the twin objectives of using existing resources more efficiently
and increasing public safety. Because research demonstrates that community supervision of
people at high risk of reoffending is most likely to reduce reoffense rates when paired with
evidence-based treatment, law enforcement officials will want to ensure that probation has
the resources it needs to be effective.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

33

Another interesting trend that this research revealed was the sharp decline in recent years
of the number of arrests of people under parole supervision, which has significantly
outpaced the decline in arrests generally. Is this because CDCR has improved how it
supervises and serves this population? Or have police increasingly refrained from arresting
people on parole for low-level crimes? Whatever the case, this is a trend worth exploring
further, as it has contributed to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings as parole
revocations have declined.
Finally, this study illustrates why this type of research and analysis is so important.
Realignment will continue to evolve over the next several years, having an impact that goes
beyond reducing the state prison population and into areas such as, for example, pretrial
or sentencing practices. Continuing this research can vitally inform state and local decision
making as policies are developed and provide great value in measuring the impact of these
policies as they are implemented.
California is undergoing a remarkable restructuring of the relationship between state and
local corrections, supervision, and law enforcement agencies. This study not only helps
policymakers navigate next steps, but also informs the dialogue between other state and
local governments, as what is happening in California is a harbinger of things to come in
states across the country.

34

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

APPENDIX A.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING METHODOLOGY

F

OR EACH ARREST RECORD PROVIDED,

the data elements included unique person identifiers
(state and county criminal justice identification numbers),49 date of arrest, type of
offense charged, and the degree of offense charged (felony or misdemeanor). For the type
of offense charged, a general description was provided (e.g., possession of controlled
substance, burglary, etc.) as well as a specific statutory citation. To categorize types of
offense, six different categories were used: Violent,50 Property, Drug, DUI, Other,51 and
Parole/Probation Violations. The last category—Parole/Probation Violations—is comprised
of arrest events in which the violation of a condition of supervision was the sole charge
for which an individual was arrested. The violation arrest could have been the result of a
police officer’s field observation of the behavior of the parolee or probationer who was in
violation of conditions of supervision. The violation arrest could have also been the result
of the execution of a warrant issued by the court.
Given the varied nature of arrest events (such as an individual being taken into custody
on multiple offense charges), arrest data typically capture all charges associated with the
arrest event. For example, if an individual was arrested by LAPD on a certain day during
the time period and charged with five different offenses, the dataset contained five unique
arrest records for that person all with the same arrest date. In these instances, researchers
consolidated the entries into one record using the most serious offense charged. For
example, if someone was arrested and charged with both felony aggravated assault and
felony possession of a controlled substance, the only offense from that arrest event that
was represented in the study was the felony aggravated assault charge. The final arrest
dataset contained more than 475,000 arrest events.
For each parole record provided, the data elements included unique person identifiers (state
criminal justice identification), date of admission to prison, date of prison release, date of
parole begin, date of parole end, type and degree of offense for which they were imprisoned
and later released to parole, and the risk level of the parolee. For the type of offense for
which they were placed on parole, a general description was provided (e.g. possession of
controlled substance, burglary, etc.) as well as a specific statutory citation. As with the arrest
data, for instances in which an individual was sentenced to prison for multiple offenses (and
subsequently released to parole), the combination of elements provided allowed for the
creation of a parole dataset that reflected the most serious offense.

A Criminal Information Indicator (CII) number is used statewide in California to identify persons coming into contact with the criminal justice system and is assigned according to fingerprint. Sacramento
and San Francisco counties also have their own unique numbering system for identifying persons coming into contact with the local county criminal justice system, with numbers also assigned according to
fingerprint.
50
Violent offenses are based on the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports definitions and also include weapons offenses.
51
Examples of Other offenses include vandalism, fugitive from justice for felony arrest, failure to disclose origin of recording, failure to appear in court (non-traffic), driving without a license, and prostitution.
49

APPENDIX A

35

Figure 10: Data Elements Provided for This Study
Arrest Data

Parole Data

Probation Data

State CII and County ID

State CII

State CII and/or County ID

Arrest Event ID

CDCR Case ID

Probation Case ID

Demographics
Date of Arrest
Description, Degree, and
Statute Citation

—may be multiple for in/out on
violations
Description and Statute
Citation
Description and Statute
Citation

Date of Probation End

—may be multiple for in/out on
violations

Supervision Level and Change
Date—including all for
changing levels

be multiple for in/out on
violations

Date—including all for multiple
assessments

Supervision Level and Change
Date—including all for
changing levels
Date—including all for multiple
assessments

36

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

APPENDIX B.
ARRESTS BY SUPERVISION STATUS FOR LOS ANGELES
People under community supervision made up 17 percent of all adult arrests in Los Angeles
during the study period, but this 17 percent of adults arrested accounted for 24 percent of all
arrest events that occurred during the study period, which points to the multiple arrest factor.
An in-depth analysis of individuals on parole and probation who were arrested on multiple
occasions in Los Angeles showed that drug arrests were the principal reason why that subset
of people were arrested twice or more during the study period. The figure below illustrates
the number of individuals arrested during the period of the study by supervision status, as
well as the total number of arrest events by supervision status.
If the rate of arrests for drug offenses for those under supervision was similar to that for
those who were not under supervision, the total volume of arrests for individuals under
supervision would have declined by more than 25,000 arrests. Such a decrease would have
brought the overall rate of arrests per person down to levels roughly equal to those
for individuals not under supervision.
Figure 11: Arrests by Supervision Status for Los Angeles

246,190
Unique individuals
arrested by LAPD
Jan 2008 - Jun 2011

During the period between January
2008 and Jun 2011, 17% of the
unique individuals arrested who
were on parole or probation
accounted for 24% of all arrests.

NO
SUPERVISION

ON
PAROLE

ON
PROBATION

204,925

24,185

17,080

(83%)

(10%)

(7%)

Responsible for

Responsible for

Responsible for

252,157
arrests

47,419
arrests

33,039
arrests

(Jan 2008 – Jun 2011)

(76%)

(14%)

(10%)

= 332,615

(1.2 per person)

(2.0 per person)

(1.9 per person)

- 0.3 Violent per Person

- 0.3 Violent per Person

- 0.4 Violent per Person

- 0.1 Property per Person

- 0.2 Property per Person

- 0.3 Property per Person

- 0.2 Drug per Person

- 0.8 Drug per Person

- 1.0 Drug per Person

- 0.2 DUI per Person

- 0.0 DUI per Person

- 0.1 DUI per Person

- 0.5 Other per Person

- 0.5 Other per Person

- 0.6 Other per Person

- 0.0 SupVio per Person

- 0.5 SupVio per Person

- 0.0 SupVio per Person

Total arrests

APPENDIX B

37

APPENDIX C.
ARRESTS IN THE FOUR JURISDICTIONS BY
OFFENSE TYPE AND SUPERVISION STATUS
Figure 12: Arrests in the Four Juristictions by Offense Type and Supervision Status
Total Adult Arrests - All Four Jurisdictions
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Total

476,054

40,476

66,251

369,327

Violent

94,179

5,195

10,084

78,900

Property

56,117

4,110

8,875

43,132

Drug

120,253

12,342

28,666

79,245

DUI

40,705

538

1,394

38,773

Other

150,554

6,995

14,282

129,277

Par/Prob Vio

14,246

11,296

2,950

—

Felony Adult Arrests - All Four Jurisdictions
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Total

267,006

31,391

47,133

188,482

Violent

71,829

4,406

8,330

59,093

Property

45,683

3,961

8,170

33,552

Drug

92,218

9,484

23,811

58,923

DUI

2,432

38

96

2,298

Other

40,621

2,212

3,793

34,616

Par/Prob Vio

14,223

11,290

2,933

—

Misdemeanor Adult Arrests - All Four Jurisdictions
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Total

209,048

9,085

19,118

180,845

Violent

22,350

789

1,754

19,807

Property

10,434

149

705

9,580

Drug

28,035

2,858

4,855

20,322

DUI

38,273

500

1,298

36,475

Other

109,933

4,783

10,489

94,661

23

6

17

—

Par/Prob Vio

38

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

Total Adult Arrests - Los Angeles
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Total

326,659

31,031

46,214

249,414

Violent

65,152

4,214

7,026

53,912

Property

35,117

3,014

5,775

26,328

Drug

74,193

9,879

20,159

44,155

DUI

32,893

412

1,069

31,412

Other

110,156

5,480

11,069

93,607

9,148

8,032

1,116

—

Par/Prob Vio

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Felony Adult Arrests - Los Angeles
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Total

176,035

23,471

32,479

120,085

Violent

51,749

3,653

6,001

42,095

Property

30,447

2,927

5,419

22,101

Drug

59,898

7,735

17,464

34,699

DUI

1,955

28

77

1,850

Other

22,847

1,102

2,405

19,340

Par/Prob Vio

9,139

8,026

1,113

—

Misdemeanor Adult Arrests - Los Angeles
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Total

150,624

7,560

13,735

129,329

Violent

13,403

561

1,025

11,817

Property

4,670

87

356

4,227

Drug

14,295

2,144

2,695

9,456

DUI

30,938

384

992

29,562

Other

87,309

4,378

8,664

74,267

9

6

3

—

Par/Prob Vio

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

APPENDIX C

39

Total Adult Arrests - Redlands
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Total

6,236

534

810

4,892

Violent

824

55

63

706

Property

972

108

179

685

Drug

2,188

116

384

1,688

DUI

755

7

36

712

1,272

71

100

1,101

225

177

48

—

Other
Par/Prob Vio

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Felony Adult Arrests - Redlands
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Total

2,947

429

633

1,885

Violent

421

41

53

327

Property

799

101

166

532

Drug

891

70

299

522

DUI

24

0

1

23

Other

587

40

66

481

Par/Prob Vio

225

177

48

—

Misdemeanor Adult Arrests - Redlands
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Total

3,289

105

177

3,007

Violent

403

14

10

379

Property

173

7

13

153

Drug

1,297

46

85

1,166

DUI

731

7

35

689

Other

685

31

34

620

0

0

0

—

Par/Prob Vio

40

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

Total Adult Arrests - Sacramento
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Total

61,847

6,374

12,456

43,017

Violent

13,329

726

2,333

10,270

Property

9,858

676

2,014

7,168

Drug

17,871

1,413

4,977

11,481

DUI

5,572

118

270

5,184

Other

11,091

520

1,657

8,914

Par/Prob Vio

4,126

2,921

1,205

—

Felony Adult Arrests - Sacramento
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Total

31,634

5,085

8,411

18,138

Violent

9,037

526

1,752

6,759

Property

6,515

625

1,754

4,136

Drug

8,017

789

3,129

4,099

DUI

295

10

15

270

Other

3,658

214

570

2,874

Par/Prob Vio

4,112

2,921

1,191

—

Misdemeanor Adult Arrests - Sacramento
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Total

30,213

1,289

4,045

24,879

Violent

4,292

200

581

3,511

Property

3,343

51

260

3,032

Drug

9,854

624

1,848

7,382

DUI

5,277

108

255

4,914

Other

7,433

306

1,087

6,040

14

0

14

—

Par/Prob Vio

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

APPENDIX C

41

Total Adult Arrests - San Francisco
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Total

81,312

2,537

6,771

72,004

Violent

14,874

200

662

14,012

Property

10,170

312

907

8,951

Drug

26,001

934

3,146

21,921

DUI

1,485

1

19

1,465

Other

28,035

924

1,456

25,655

747

166

581

—

Par/Prob Vio

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Felony Adult Arrests - San Francisco
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Total

56,390

2,406

5,610

48,374

Violent

10,622

186

524

9,912

Property

7,922

308

831

6,783

Drug

23,412

890

2,919

19,603

DUI

158

0

3

155

13,529

856

752

11,921

747

166

581

—

Other
Par/Prob Vio

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

Misdemeanor Adult Arrests - San Francisco
Offense
Type

Total
Arrests

Active
Parolee

Total

24,922

131

1,161

23,630

Violent

4,252

14

138

4,100

Property

2,248

4

76

2,168

Drug

2,589

44

227

2,318

DUI

1,327

1

16

1,310

Other

14,506

68

704

13,734

0

0

0

—

Par/Prob Vio

42

Active
Not
Probationer Supervised

THE IMPACT OF PROBATION AND PAROLE POPULATIONS ON ARRESTS IN FOUR CALIFORNIA CITIES

 

 

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