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Supervision Regimes, Risk, and Official Reactions to Parolee Deviance

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 49 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2011 Pages: 371-400
Date Published
May 2011
30 pages

Parolee deviance has emerged as a central issue in policy debates about crime and punishment in American society as well as in scholarship on "mass incarceration." Although the prevailing approach to studying parolees conceives of parole violations as outcomes of individual propensities toward criminal behavior (i.e., criminogenic risk), this study considers how indicators of individual risk and characteristics of formal social control systems combine to account for reported parole violations.


Using data on California parolees, the study examined the effects of parolees' personal characteristics, their criminal histories, and the social organization of supervision on parole violations. The authors advance the notion of a "supervision regime"a legal and organizational structure that shapes the detection and reporting of parolee deviance. Three components of a supervision regime are explored: 1) the intensity of supervision, 2) the capacity of the regime to detect parolee deviance, and 3) the tolerance of parole officials for parolee deviance. The study found that personal characteristics and offense histories are predictive of parole violations. However, the study also found that introducing supervision factors reduces the effects of offense history variables on violation risk, suggesting that the violation risks of serious, violent, and sexual offenders are partially explainable through the heightened supervision to which they are subject. In addition, the study found that supervision intensity and tolerance are generally predictive of violation risk. Capacity effects are present but weak. The study concludes with a discussion of how the supervision regimes concept illuminates the gap between macro- and micro-analyses of social control. (Published Abstract)

Date Published: May 1, 2011