‘We Know What Types of Supervision … Help Reduce Recidivism and Incarceration’

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Pew Charitable Trusts on 01/08/2019

Arizona probation chief envisions smaller, less punitive, more effective system

Barbara Broderick has devoted most of her 40-year criminal justice career to improving state and local community supervision in Arizona and New York.

Since December 2000, she has served as chief probation officer of the Maricopa County (Arizona) Adult Probation Department, the nation’s sixth-largest, with more than 1,100 employees, a budget of $118 million, and about 54,000 individuals under its jurisdiction. She previously served as interim chief of juvenile probation in Arizona and as state director for adult probation for the Arizona Supreme Court, and she is past president of the American Probation and Parole Association.

Q: What are some of the top issues in the U.S. probation and parole system?

Two key challenges are just how large the supervision population has become and how diminished the resources are for many of my colleagues across the nation. I’ve been fortunate because my county has been very supportive as we’ve grown, although we haven’t seen a corresponding increase on the treatment side or in housing and workforce development. Another major problem is that there is no established standard for an appropriate workload size for our officers. That means it varies by county and state, and our people are usually stretched thin.

I also believe we impose way too many rules on people under supervision. In our state, we have 21 standard probation rules, and number 22 can be whatever the judge wants to write in. And if you’ve been convicted of certain crimes, there are additional conditions, and it all gets to be overwhelming for people.

Finally, I think we need to look at all the fees and other financial charges we impose on individuals on supervision. Many of them really struggle and are shackled to this debt, and that’s not helping anyone.