Delaware DOC reports probation numbers are decreasing

DOVER — Probation rates have steadily declined for the last seven years, according to the Delaware Department of Correction, but significant challenges continue.

The department released a 14-page report Monday covering the current state of probation and parole operations in the First State.

Although 77% of probation terms ended successfully in fiscal year 2019, there were 14,417 individuals actively under supervision in low-, moderate- and high-risk statuses, along with home confinement. There were 11,193 admissions during that span.

For the less than 30% experiencing difficulties complying with terms, the DOC said it has expanded supportive case management statewide, developed a reward and sanction system to push offenders toward compliance and assisted probationers to meet living expense obligations through grants.

Claire DeMatteis

The DOC described probation and parole officers as “behavior coaches” using evidence-based cognitive interventions prescribed in Effective Practices in Community Supervision. “Delaware probation and parole officers are highly trained and dedicated to helping individuals on probation lead productive lives in our communities,” said DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis in a news release.

“This report documents how their training, skills and innovative community supervision efforts are helping to keep probationers out of prison and our communities safer.”

The entire 17-page report, titled “Probation and Parole in Delaware: Focus on Success,” is available at doc.delaware.gov.

The DOC highlighted multiple achievements, including:

• An 83% decrease in zero-tolerance special conditions of supervision between 2018-20, resulting from a probation and parole directive and a partnership with the Delaware Judiciary, which has increased the ability to address minor violations in the community, reducing probationers’ risk of re-incarceration.

• A 38% decrease in administrative warrants issued between 2014-19, resulting in fewer probationers being detained pending a violation of probation hearing before the court.

• A 398% increase in administrative commitments of probationers to short-duration stays in community corrections centers, in lieu of violation of probation reports being submitted to the courts, which could result in lengthier incarcerations.

• Accreditation (2016) and reaccreditation (2019) by the American Correctional Association, achieving a 100% compliance score both times and affirming that Delaware Probation and Parole meets the highest industry standards.

• Work with eligible moderate-to-high-risk probationers to secure housing and pay the first month’s rent utilizing grant funds.

• Expansion of case management by a community-based organization at all probation offices statewide to help probationers obtain employment, housing and other critical services.