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March 30, 2020

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March 30, 2020

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Summit County Common Pleas Court General Division Awarded Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs Grant


Summit County, Ohio: Summit County Common Pleas Court Administrative Judge Amy Corrigall Jones is pleased to announce a grant award of $599,978 from the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs to pilot the Swift, Certain, and Fair (SCF) Supervision Model in the Summit County Adult Probation Department. The Innovative Responses to Behavior in the Community: Swift, Certain and Fair Supervision FY2018 Competitive Grant will provide funding over three years to pilot and implement the SCF Model under the Summit County Offender Recidivism Reduction Project (SCORR).

“There have been many positive changes in the Adult Probation Department this past year. Funding to pilot the SCF Model of supervision will enable the department to continue improving its delivery of evidence-based practices and mission of providing excellence in community corrections, public safety and public service,” Judge Corrigall Jones stated.

It is estimated that one-third of probationers and parolees are unsuccessful in completing their supervision and approximately 75% of parolees are re-arrested within five years of their release, with about half returning to prison. Historically, probation departments across the country have taken an “all or nothing” approach to community control or supervision, in that when a probationer commits a probation violation, the norm has been to revoke their probation and sentence probationers to prison, which is much more costly and often, less effective. The SCF model was developed to reduce recidivism, drug use and increase compliance with the terms of probation resulting in successful completion of community control. This is done through a “swift” response for each violation resulting in the probationer being arrested or having to appear in court within a few days of the violation.

Assistant Court Executive Officer Susan Sweeney identified and applied for the grant as a result of her involvement in the Summit County Adult Probation Department Assessment performed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). “Recognizing the need to improve outcomes in our probation department and understanding that resources are limited, I began researching strategies to supervise probationers effectively and efficiently. Research has shown success with the SCF Model requiring violations be punished as soon as possible, achieving swiftness, and without exception, achieving certainty,” stated Sweeney. Laura Klaversma, NCSC Court Services Director stated “the NCSC is looking forward to continuing the work in Summit County through evaluation of the new effort of the SCF Supervision Model. The courts focus on improving system outcomes is commendable.”

In addition to a timely response to an offense, the other key to implementing the SCF Model is having a standard sanction and reward grid that indicates the type of offense or positive behavior, the specific sanction or reward associated with the offense or positive behavior and the length of time the sanction or reward will be imposed. Probationers are provided this information upfront so they can understand the exact consequence of a certain violation.

“The probationers will be made aware of their expectations from the onset of supervision of a missed appointment or positive drug screen. Therefore, they may be less likely to violate the terms and conditions of their probation,” Kerri Defibaugh, APD Director of Offender Services, explained.

The model allows for more intense supervision of high-risk/high-need probationers through increased court appearances, meetings with their probation officer and drug testing. The pilot project will serve 30 high-risk, high-need probationers annually. High-risk/high-need probationers will be determined through the Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS) performed on all offenders. Those who agree to participate will be given a full overview of the program. Those who refuse will be placed in a “probation as usual” group. The success of the two groups will then be compared for analysis.

The court will partner with the NCSC to provide guidance on designing the program’s policies, procedures, sanction and reward grid, data collection and analysis. The mission of the NCSC is to provide their expertise to improve courts administration and functions of the court.

The court partnered with NCSC in 2017 to complete an assessment of the APD and an implementation plan to streamline operations and improve probation services. The plan is currently being implemented in the APD.

“We are grateful for the success of our past collaboration with the National Center for State Courts, seen in the positive changes currently occurring in our Adult Probation Department. We look forward to collaborating with NCSC on the SCORR project and building on the improvements we’ve already made,” Judge Corrigall Jones said.

“This model, with NCSC’s help, has the potential to revolutionize the probation department and how we monitor offenders. I’m excited to see the outcome,” Defibaugh affirmed.

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