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New study: Most adults arrested are not under probation

Despite the shift of offenders from the state to the county under public safety realignment, most of the adults arrested in the region are not offenders under probation supervision – only 12 percent of adult arrests in 2012 involved someone on probation – according to a new report released by SANDAG.

The report, Arrests of Individuals Under Probation Supervision in the San Diego Region 2012, offers insights on whether the implementation of public safety realignment has affected countywide arrest rates. Under AB 109, which took effect on October 1, 2011, the state shifted responsibility for the housing and supervision of certain non-violent, non-serious offenders to local law enforcement.

The report found that nearly a quarter of adults under probation in San Diego County were re-arrested in 2012 during their period of supervision. So called Mandatory Supervision (MS) Offenders – those sentenced to local jail (and not state prison) under realignment and served part of their sentence in the community – are not re-arrested more often than the traditional probation population (typically comprising low-level offenders). The arrest rate for MS offenders and the traditional population is identical – 22 percent.

However, so called Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS) Offenders– those who come from prison and who were previously supervised by state parole agents but are now supervised by county probation officers due to realignment – have a much higher re-arrest rate. The re-arrest rate for PRCS offenders while under supervision is 36 percent.

While PRCS offenders were more likely to be re-arrested than others, researchers determined that the strongest predictor of re-arrest was not whether an offender is a realigned offender. Rather the strongest predicator was whether an offender was classified as at high-risk for recidivism based on the COMPAS assessment tool. COMPAS stands for Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions. It is administered by the county Probation Department to probationers to determine their supervision level.

“When we analyzed the data, it was fairly consistent across the board that those assessed as low-risk are least likely to be re-arrested and those assessed as high-risk are most likely to be re-arrested, regardless of whether they are a realigned offender or not,” said Dr. Cynthia Burke, SANDAG Director of Criminal Justice Research.

The report highlights the San Diego County Probation Department, as well as other public safety partners who serve AB 109 offenders, for implementing best practices when housing and managing these offenders. For example, the Probation Department uses “risk-based supervision,” which means that the frequency of contacts and depth of engagement with offenders is determined by their assessed level of risk. Those offenders assessed as 'high-risk' to recidivate are supervised on smaller caseloads and are seen more frequently than those assessed as medium risk. Generally, those assessed as low-risk are assigned to an administrative caseload and are not required to report to an assigned officer.

The study released today is a follow-up to an earlier report titled Re-Arrest of Probationers in the San Diego Region, published in 2010.

In addition to adult arrest rates, the new study also examined juvenile arrest rates. Twelve percent of juvenile arrests in 2012 involved a youth on probation, significantly lower than the 18 percent reported for 2008.

Project Manager(s)

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or