Juvenile Probation Supervision Contacts in a Reforming State: Rise of the Street-Level Expert?


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We examined juvenile probation officers’ use of evidence-based principles in routine supervision contacts in five counties of a reforming state, focusing on relationship quality, attention to criminogenic needs, and the use of structuring activities. We did this using ethnographic observations of 112 routine supervision contacts, supplemented by qualitative interviews and a practitioner survey. Analysis showed officers typically applied some evidence-based principles in supervision meetings, though encounters varied in their focus on rehabilitation, and whether rehabilitative work used specialized techniques. Variations were shaped by client circumstances and meeting contexts. They also reflected officers’ affinity for specialized approaches, with evidence suggesting the existence of a group of “experts” within the officer population committed to using specialized techniques. The presence of experts was related, in part, to offices’ leadership, organizational practices, and history with evidence-based reforms. Findings offer cautious optimism about the prospects for mainstreaming these evidence-based principles within community corrections agencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology(all)
  • Law


  • community supervision
  • implementation
  • offender treatment
  • probation
  • risk-need-responsivity


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