The authors wish to thank Brian Martin of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for his assistance with the data collection for this study. This study was indirectly supported by award number 2005–IJ–CX–0038 from the National Institute of Justice, Principal Investigators: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Please address correspondence to Benjamin Steiner, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of South Carolina, 1305 Greene Street, Columbia, SC 29208; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Short-Term Effects of Sanctioning Reform on Parole Officers' Revocation Decisions
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2011
© 2011 Law and Society Association
Law & Society Review
Volume 45, Issue 2, pages 371–400, June 2011
How to Cite
Steiner, B., Travis III, L. F., Makarios, M. D. and Meade, B. (2011), Short-Term Effects of Sanctioning Reform on Parole Officers' Revocation Decisions. Law & Society Review, 45: 371–400. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5893.2011.00440.x
- Issue published online: 25 MAY 2011
- Article first published online: 25 MAY 2011
Parole officials have traditionally been afforded considerable discretion when making sanctioning decisions to be able to tailor sanctions according to substantively rational concerns such as individuals' unique needs and situations. However, the application of substantive rationality in sanctioning can also generate unwanted disparities because sanctioning decisions may be based on extralegal factors that parole officials consider relevant. Concerns regarding disparate treatment of offender groups have prompted a number of states to consider adopting administrative violation response policies that emphasize formal rationality and uniformity by restricting parole officers' discretion and structuring sanctioning decisions according to legally relevant criteria. By emphasizing formal rationality in sanctioning, structured sanction policies present a dilemma for parole officers—uniformity versus individualized treatment. In 2005, the state of Ohio implemented an administrative violation response policy designed to reduce parole officers' reliance on revocation hearings and promote uniformity in sanctioning decisions. This study involved an examination of whether Ohio's shift to structured sanctioning coincided with differences in legal and extralegal effects on parole officers' decisions to pursue revocation hearings. Analyses of data collected before and after the implementation of the policy revealed a reduction in the number of revocation hearings officers pursued. Only modest increases in uniformity were observed, however, because there was little disparity resulting from officers' hearing decisions before the policy was put in place. These findings are discussed within perspectives on justice system actors' decision making.