The program provides more restrictive community supervision to individuals at higher risk of committing serious crimes. The program is rated No Effects. Individuals on ISP showed no difference in offending, by first new offense or offense type, from those on standard probation. However, there was a statistically significant greater likelihood for the ISP treatment group to have absconded, been incarcerated, and had hearings for technical violations, compared with the control group.
This program’s rating is based on evidence that includes at least one high-quality randomized controlled trial.
Intensive Supervision Probation (ISP) is a control-based approach to community supervision (probation or parole) requiring offenders to report more frequently to their supervision officers. ISP officers also handle smaller caseloads than standard officers, to devote more time to offenders supervised under ISP. In addition, under ISP, there are faster and more severe punishments and higher levels of scrutiny.
ISP tailors supervision intensity to assessed level of risk for each offender. In Philadelphia, the ISP program is run by the Adult Probation and Parole Department (APPD). The goal is to prevent crime and reoffending by individuals under supervision.
ISP is targeted at offenders who present a high likelihood for violent recidivism. In Philadelphia, to qualify for ISP, offenders must have been classified as high-risk by a risk assessment tool and therefore predicted to commit a serious offense within 2 years. Serious offenses include murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery, or a sexual offense. Offenders are classified into the high-risk category using a statistical procedure known as random forest forecasting. The random forest model uses 48 predictors of future criminal behavior, including demographics, prior criminal history, prior sentences, and neighborhood characteristics.
In Philadelphia, offenders are managed within one of the risk-based units (high, moderate, or low). Offenders on ISP are managed out of the high-risk units.
Offenders on ISP are required to report to a centralized APPD office location weekly for face-to-face meetings with their supervision officers. Offenders also undergo mandatory drug testing once per month. In addition, officers in the high-risk units are intended to have no more than 50 cases at any given time, giving them time for monthly home visits and frequent follow-up contacts. Finally, offenders also experience a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding rule violations so that all offenses are prosecuted fully. The requirements and exact nature of offenders’ supervision is determined by the APPD.
Additional Information: Negative Program Effects
An outcome evaluation (described below in Evaluation Methodology and Outcomes) compared offenders in Philadelphia on ISP with those on standard probation. While there were no statistically significant differences between the groups on new charges and new charges by crime type, there was a statistically significant greater likelihood for the ISP group to have absconded, been incarcerated, or have had hearings for technical violations, compared with the standard probation group.
Hyatt and Barnes (2017) found no statistically significant difference between the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) and control groups in terms of the percentages of high-risk offenders with a new charge at the 1-year follow up.
New Charges by Offense Type
For the average number of new offenses committed by high-risk offenders by type of offense (violent, serious, nonviolent drug, property, and sexual offenses), there were no statistically significant differences between the ISP and control groups at the 1-year follow up.
During the 1-year follow up, high-risk offenders in the ISP group were more likely to have absconded, compared with the control group. About 27.3 percent of the ISP group had absconded at least once, compared with 16.1 percent of the control group. This difference was statistically significant.
High-risk offenders in the ISP group were also more likely to have been incarcerated in the local jail system during the 1-year follow up. About 67.6 percent of the ISP group was in custody at least once during the follow-up period, compared with 55.3 percent of the control group. This difference was statistically significant.
High-risk offenders in the ISP group were also more likely to have had hearings for technical violations during the 1-year follow up. About 29 percent of the ISP group had a hearing for technical violations, compared with 12.4 percent of the control group. This difference was statistically significant.
Hyatt and Barnes (2017) evaluated the impact of the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) on probationer recidivism in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the period between May 2010 and April 2011, a randomized controlled trial assigned 447 cases to the ISP treatment group and 385 cases to the control condition, which consisted of regular probation. Only offenders who were newly categorized as “high-risk” for committing a serious offense within 2 years were randomly assigned. Offenders who were already on high-risk supervision or who had a previous high-risk forecast in the previous year were excluded.
The ISP sample was all male, and 72 percent black, 21 percent white, and 1 percent other ethnicity. The control group was all male, and 71 percent black, 22 percent white, and 1 percent other ethnicity. The mean age at assignment for both groups was 29. At intake, a majority in both the ISP group and control group had experienced prior incarceration (94 percent and 96 percent, respectively) or probation (63 percent and 67 percent, respectively). There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups at baseline.
Offenders were classified into the “high-risk” category using a statistical procedure known as random forest forecasting. The random forest model used 48 predictors of future criminal behavior, including demographics, prior criminal history, prior sentences, and neighborhood characteristics. The screenings were conducted by an automated computer program integrated into the Adult Probation and Parole Department’s (APPD’s) case-management system. The automated risk forecasting allowed for the experiment to be double blind, as supervising officers and treatment and control group members were not aware they were participating in a randomized trial.
Outcome measures collected were offense and criminal history data for 12 months following enrollment in the study. Recidivism was quantified as any charge for a new offense, not including violations of probation conditions. The charges were grouped categorically: violent, serious, nonviolent drug, property, and sexual offenses. Information on new criminal offenses was collected from the unified, computerized databases used by the police, courts, and correctional agencies in Philadelphia. Data on absconding was taken from the APPD’s case-management system. An offender was deemed to have potentially absconded after missing (without excuse or justification) two consecutive scheduled contacts. The study also looked at incarceration rates and violations of probation. Incarceration rates included examination of offenders who had been incarcerated in the local jail system for any reason (including pretrial detention, short sentences for technical violations, and any new judicial sentences of up to 24 months). Violations of probation included offenders not complying with the requirements of supervision, including failing to report a positive drug screening, missing treatment, or not paying fines or court costs.
The analysis used an intent-to-treat design. Inferential statistical tests conducted on the collected data included a two-sample t-test and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. The study authors did not conduct subgroup analyses.
There is no cost information available for this program.
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1
Hyatt, Jordan M., and Geoffrey C. Barnes. 2017. “An Experimental Evaluation of the Impact of Intensive Supervision on the Recidivism of High-Risk Probationers.” Crime & Delinquency