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Intensive supervision (surveillance only)

Adult Criminal Justice
Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2023.  Literature review updated December 2016.
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Intensive supervision probation/parole (ISP) emphasizes a higher degree of surveillance than traditional supervision in the community. ISP is delivered in lieu of incarceration, as a conditional release from incarceration in the form of parole, or as a probation sentence. Conditions of supervision vary across the studies but often include urinalysis testing or increased face-to-face/collateral contacts. Persons who are supervised can incur violations, or sanctions, when these conditions are not followed. The average number of face-to-face monthly contacts for studies included in our meta-analysis was 12.

In this meta-analysis, we considered studies in which supervision occurred without supplemental treatment. Supervision occurred over a 6- to 18-month period.
For an overview of WSIPP's Benefit-Cost Model, please see this guide. The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2022). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $159 Benefits minus costs $364
Participants $0 Benefit to cost ratio $3.88
Others $315 Chance the program will produce
Indirect $16 benefits greater than the costs 53%
Total benefits $490
Net program cost ($126)
Benefits minus cost $364

^^WSIPP does not include this outcome when conducting benefit-cost analysis for this program.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases. See Estimating Program Effects Using Effect Sizes for additional information.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured Treatment age No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes(ES) and standard errors(SE) used in the benefit - cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
30 14 2094 -0.005 0.041 31 -0.005 0.041 41 0.005 0.921
30 2 498 0.088 0.385 31 n/a n/a n/a 0.088 0.819
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Affected outcome: Resulting benefits:1 Benefits accrue to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Crime Criminal justice system $159 $0 $315 $79 $553
Program cost Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($63) ($63)
Totals $159 $0 $315 $16 $490
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Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $4,459 2015 Present value of net program costs (in 2022 dollars) ($126)
Comparison costs $4,353 2015 Cost range (+ or -) 10%
There are two components of this per participant cost estimate. First, the cost of supervision is based on WSIPP's analysis of community supervision delivered by the Washington State Department of Corrections (see Technical Documentation). Second, we include the cost of violation behavior. For this estimate, we rely on violation costs reported here and include an additional 10 percent to account for the intensive nature: Hamilton, Z., van Wormer, J., Kigerl, A., Campbell, C., & Posey. B. (2015). Evaluation of Washington State Department of Corrections Swift and Certain Policy Process, Outcome and Cost-Benefit Evaluation. Washington State University. We assume both the treatment and comparison groups receive community supervision, but that treatment participants incur 10% greater violation costs.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Benefits Minus Costs
Benefits by Perspective
Taxpayer Benefits by Source of Value
Benefits Minus Costs Over Time (Cumulative Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in discounted dollars. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Bagdon, W. & Ryan, J.E. (1993). Intensive supervision of offenders on prerelease furlough: An evaluation of the Vermont experience. FORUM on Corrections Research, 5(2).

Brown, K.L. (2007). Effects of supervision philosophy on intensive probationers. Justice Policy Journal, 4(1).

Byrne, J.M., & Kelly, L.M. (1989). Restructuring probation as an intermediate sanction: An evaluation of the implementation and impact of the Massachusetts Intensive Probation Supervision Program (Executive Summary). Final report to the National Institute of Justice, Research Program on the Punishment and Control of Offenders.

Hyatt, J.M., & Barnes, G.C. (2014). An Experimental Evaluation of the Impact of Intensive Supervision on the Recidivism of High-Risk Probationers. Crime & Delinquency, early edition online.

Petersilia, J., & Turner, S. (1990). Intensive supervision for high-risk probationers: Findings from three California experiments. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.

Petersilia, J., Turner, S., & Deschenes, E. P. (1992). Intensive supervision programs for drug offenders. In J. M. Byrne, A. J. Lurigio, & J. Petersilia (Eds.), Smart sentencing: The emergence of intermediate sanctions (pp. 18-37). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Smith, L.G., & Akers, R.L. (1993). A comparison of recidivism of Florida's community control and prison: A five-year survival analysis. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency, 30(3), 267-292.

Turner, S., & Petersilia, J. (1992). Focusing on high-risk parolees: An experiment to reduce commitments to the Texas Department of Corrections. Journal of Research on Crime & Delinquency, 29(1), 34-61.