How Swift and Certain Sanctions Changed Community Supervision in Washington State

September 12, 2014 0 Comments | Posted in Swift Certain Fair Program News


Enforcing community supervision for released inmates is a persistent challenge for the criminal justice system. This challenge comes at a high cost as many probationers and parolees are revoked and returned to prison on technical violations, such as continued drug use and no-shows for appointments. In an attempt to reduce violation rates and the associated costs, many jurisdictions are testing a new approach. This new approach, referred to as the Swift and Certain (SAC) model, is modeled after a program that was originally tested on high-risk probationers in Hawaii.

As suggested by the name, the SAC model operates swiftly: probationers or parolees who violate the conditions of supervision are immediately arrested and are brought before a judge, hearings officer, or probation/parole administrator (depending on the specifics of the implementation) who determines their sanction. The model entails certainty: violations are likely to be detected and all detected violations are addressed. With this model, sanctions are modest, typically a few days in jail for low-level missteps. The goal of the approach is to reduce incarceration and reoffending.

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