This story was written by Jody Sundt, Sara Johnson, and Leslie Wells and was originally published in Perspectives, the Journal of the American Probation and Parole Association.
A movement is gaining momentum to shift the culture of corrections, including how probation officers manage offenders in the community (Taxman & Belenko, 2012). Rather than solely focusing on tracking compliance and sanctioning probation violations, more departments are switching to an evidence-based approach that focuses on reducing criminogenic risks and needs with proven strategies that improve public safety.
While there has been progress in training employees in these evidence-based practices (Chadwick, Dewolf, & Serin, 2015), significant challenges remain in building the organizational capacity to support the high levels of treatment fidelity needed to realize public safety goals and reach large numbers of offenders (Salisbury, Sundt, & Boppre, in Press). Organizational policies and practices, for example, need to be aligned with new expectations about how probation officers should perform their jobs. Similarly, we need models to ensure that agencies are hiring people into the system with the skills and orientations necessary to be successful (Fixen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005).