Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $314,768)
The Santa Cruz County Probation Department, Ceres Policy Research, and the Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community at the University of California-Santa Cruz will form a partnership to research and implement the use of structured decision-making instruments with the goal of increasing the consistent and equitable treatment of probationers. The project has two objectives: (1) identify and introduce two structured decision-making instruments within the Adult Division of the Santa Cruz County Probation Department by June 2011; one instrument will focus on creating consistent case management guidelines/procedures and the second will guide staff's recommendations in response to probation violations; and (2) to conduct an analysis of pre- and post-implementation survey and program data to determine whether structured decision-making leads to more positive and equitable outcomes for probationers, particularly Latinos and women, by June 2012.
The proposed project consists of three phases: (a) an analysis of pre-implementation baseline data, (b) implementation of structured decision-making, and (c) analysis of post-implementation outcomes. Analysis of baseline data will document that there is a need for structured decision-making tools and provide probation staff with quantifiable information about the aggregate results of individual case management decisions.
A database will be compiled containing information on arrest, incarceration, caseload assignment, probation violation recommendations, and recidivism data for probationers in the year prior to the grant period. Once the structured decision-making instruments are in use across the adult probation department, the grantee will collect and analyze survey data from adult probation staff members (N = 40), a sample of randomly selected probationers (N = 250), and program data on the entire population of adult probationers (N = 2,425). Survey data will be analyzed using SPSS data software. Descriptive statistics tests will be collected and analyzed to examine the percentage of probationers with different outcomes (i.e. different recommendations tied to probation violations). Analysis of variance and chi-square tests will be used to determine whether subsets of staff members and probationers provided different answers on the outcomes. Regression analyses will be used to determine whether different subgroups of probationers are experiencing variation in outcomes after controlling for offense type and criminal history. Paired t-tests will determine whether staff or probationers perceived any changes since the implementation of structured decision-making. These analyses will form the basis for determining whether the adoption of structured decision-making has improved outcomes for probationers. Subsequent results and the proposed partnership will inform policy and practice in the Santa Cruz County Adult probation system and aid jurisdictions with similar decision-making processes. ca/ncf