Probation Rates and Probation Management Solutions

Part
01
of two
Part
01

U.S. State Probation Rates

While there is no preexisting information to fully answer your question, I've used the readily available data to estimate an approximate figure for the average cost per person in relation to state prison probation in the US. Using a limited number of states as a representative sample, I estimate the daily cost to be around $5.50 consisting mostly of staffing costs. Below you'll find an outline of the research methodology used to better understand why the information you've requested is publicly unavailable, and how this estimate was triangulated.

METHODOLOGY

An extensive search of the public domain revealed no up-to-date data in relation to the average cost of probation in the US for state prisons. Although I found a report on Prison Policy website dated 2017 that referenced “probation costs per year per person”, this was based on information from the Pew Research Center, from a survey conducted in 2008. I searched the website of the Pew Research Center to determine if any update to this survey had been made in the last 10 years, but determined this was the first and latest occasion when this survey was conducted. Pew had collated information for 33 states which provided breakdown of average costs of probation, parole and incarceration. I continued my search for more current information and found that when compiled on the national level, this information tended to focus on the cost of incarceration rather than probation or parole, as was the case for a report from Vera, the Institute of Justice, which looked into state spending on prisons. Total annual prison costs and cost per inmate information from 2015 was provided for 44 states, but did not provide any information on probation costs. A search of the Bureau of Justice Statistics determined that it too does not contain the requested information.

I did, however, find that the National Institute of Corrections has a database of 2015 State Statistics, which also provides cost per inmate by state. Unfortunately again this refers only to the expenses incurred for those incarcerated, and cost per offender on probation is not detailed. The National Institute of Corrections does provide links to the reports of each state from which the cost per inmate figures have been calculated, but I found that in relation to probation, these figures were generally not directly available from each source and would require a number of calculations using figures extracted from each report, which varied for each state. It was therefore not feasible to attempt to calculate each state’s probation cost per offender using those reports to determine the exact national average.

FINDINGS

A decade ago, Pew Research determined "[t]he average cost of managing an offender in the community...[was] $3.42 per day for probationers...or about $1,250...a year." This was the average when considering probation agencies only. Some states combine their parole and probation functions into a single agency, and the average cost per person for these states was $3.90. The report that Pew Research published also detailed the low and high end for each of these: for probation agencies, the lowest was $1.38 and the highest was $7.89. For probation and parole agencies, the lowest cost per person per day was $1.22 and the highest was $9.76. Unfortunately, Pew Research have neglected to update their research since this first survey was conducted in 2008. We would assume that costs would rise, but there is no evidence to confirm whether this would be in line with inflation or at some other rate.

Although my search of media reports, government databases and prison-related studies did not return a recent national average for probation costs, I did come across some at the state level which were directly reported. These were North Carolina ($5.31 per person per day), New Mexico ($7.58 per person per day) and Georgia ($4 per person per day).

As discussed in the methodology above, the National Institute of Corrections did provide links to the sites and reports for each state’s department of corrections or equivalent. I selected a sample of states to calculate the state probation cost per person, to then average and use as an estimate for the national probation cost. In order to provide a representative sample, I endeavored to select a low-end figure, a high-end figure and a mid-range figure. As information for cost per inmate was readily available, and assuming some correlation between the cost per incarcerated person and the cost per person on probation, I selected Kentucky which had the lowest cost per inmate, Colorado with a mid-range cost per inmate and New York with the highest cost per inmate for 2015. However, when I searched the site for New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, I was unable to locate information about the cost of probation so attempted the next highest state, New Jersey. Unfortunately I couldn’t locate this information for New Jersey, nor for Connecticut, the state with the subsequent highest cost per inmate. I have therefore included Alaska, which was the highest cost state for which the probation cost per person could be determined.

Kentucky
"Probation & Parole - Cost to Supervise 2015" = $3.46 per day ($1,262.52 per year)

Colorado
For the financial year 2016, "Judicial Appropriation by Major Function, Probation" was $144,138,492
Given the probation population of 78,883
Annual cost per person = $1,827.24
/ 364.75 = $5.01 per day

Alaska
For the most recent year available, 2014 the "Appropriation: Population Management, Allocation: Statewide Probation and Parole" was $15,490,800
Given the probation population of 5,418
Annual cost per person = $2,859.14
/ 364.75 = $7.84 per day

The average of these three states = ($3.46 + $5.01 + $7.84)/3= $5.44 per person, per day

Including the three states for which I was able to locate directly reported daily costs of probation (North Carolina, Georgia and New Mexico), which can be considered a haphazard selection, in addition to the three states chosen to represent low to high range of costs (Kentucky, Colorado and Alaska), the average remains broadly the same at $5.53 per person, per day. Based on this limited sample, the average national probation cost seems to be in the region of $5.50.

($5.31 + $4.00 + $7.58 +$3.46 + $5.01 + $7.84)/6= $5.53 per person, per day

There was limited explanation provided in any of the reports from which these figures were extracted regarding what these costs consisted of. An article from the US Courts regarding cost of probation states that it includes "salary costs of probation and pretrial services officers, obligations for expenditures associated with providing court-directed services for defendants and offenders, and miscellaneous operating expenses". Although this is in relation to the federal system and dates back to 2013, it is likely applicable to the state system in the current day. An extract from the book “Community Corrections” notes that typical costs include staffing with roles of "Chief Probation Officer, Senior Probation Officer, Probation Officers, Accounting Technician and Admin Secretary" plus “rent, training, vehicle replacement and other mundane costs”, where “mundane costs” is likely to be equivalent to general and administration costs that any normal office would be expected to incur. A more granular breakdown of expenses that make up the total cost of probation was not available.

CONCLUSION

Despite the limited data available, I was able to estimate an average US state probation cost per person to be around $5.50 per day, consisting mainly of salaries and the typical expenses that are incurred when running an office, such as training and rent.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Software for Probation Management in the U.S.

Five software products for probation management in the U.S. are CaseloadPRO, iJustice, GCS Probation Tracking System, Mayor's Court, and ClassAct. I have provided an overview of each product, along with features, user base (where available), pricing (where available), and notable clients (where available) on the attached spreadsheet, which I created for easier comparison. My methodology and limitations are below. I've also included the information that is in the spreadsheet below as well, since the research criteria requested a standard Wonder write-up.

Methodology

Although this request did not ask us to find the top probation management software in the U.S., I decided to see if I could determine the most popular products currently used in judicial systems. I began with Capterra, which is a trusted software review website, but it lumped all probation management software in with court management software, so I felt it did not provide me with an accurate popularity index for probation management software. However, it did provide me with a few software product names that I could use to search for popularity. I discovered numerous judicial contracts with both CaseloadPRO and iJustice. As such, these are the first two products compared on the spreadsheet.

Then, using Capterra, I identified three competitors to CaseloadPRO and iJustice, although contracts with GCS Probation Tracking System, Mayor's Court, and ClassAct were more difficult to find. Fortunately, GCS Probation Tracking System and Mayor's Court both had reviews on Capterra that revealed clients so that I could provide a sample of jurisdictions that are using these products. I was unable to find any contracts for ClassAct and the only clients I could identify on the website were referred to in generic terms such as "superior courts." As such, this product is listed at number 5 on the spreadsheet.

Limitations

In addition to not being able to find actual clients for ClassAct, I was also unable to find user numbers for any product other than Mayor's Court. Despite searching the companies' websites, media mentions, press releases, and industry reports, I was not able to find any mention of the number of software product users. For this reason, I elected to include a section that lists "notable clients" so that you can gain an understanding of who uses these products.

Likewise, pricing was unavailable for iJustice and ClassAct as they require interested parties to contact them for customized pricing. The pricing model for CaseloadPRO is clearly stated on the website, but actual pricing is not. However, I was able to find two contracts that provided pricing for this product, which allowed me to provide a range of costs for this software.

Please note that some sources are slightly older than the Wonder guidelines of 24 months. This is because some contracts that are still ongoing began several years ago. However, I felt the information is still relevant because the contracts I selected are still in force.

Findings

Caseloadpro

OVERVIEW
CaseloadPRO is an SaaS product designed specifically for the "probation, pre-trial and parole" industry. It offers three main products, which are Case Management, Automated Telephone Check-Ins, and Automated Reminders." It is a "web-based software application that fits a small county’s needs and budget, but also scales to address the complex and demanding environment of larger counties."

NUMBER OF USERS
Not available

FEATURES
*"Billing Management
*Calendar Management
*Case Notes
*Client Management
*Communication Tracking
*Court Management
*Document Management
*Government
*Records Management
*Trust Accounting"

PRICING
$40/$50 per user, per month based on 2014 and 2016 contracts
Monthly subscription model, but must contact directly for pricing

NOTABLE CLIENTS
Nevada Association of Juvenile Justice Administrators

iJustice

iJustice is a web-based "Enterprise Probation Case Management solution for court services administrators." It is not a standalone product, though, as it is designed to integrate with iCourt to "provide complete automation of processes." However, it can also be integrated into "existing Judicial System Partners' case management systems, external financial/accounting systems, image and document management systems and other legacy systems."

NUMBER OF USERS
Not available

FEATURES
*"Powerful Offender Centric Case Search and Processing
*State Reporting
*Notification Work Queues
*Seamless integration to iCourt or current court case management system
*Auto-population of Offender Information
*Photo Add/View Capability
*File Audits
*Role-based Security
*Integration to Image Document Management System
*Court Monitoring
*Tracking of Violations (technical and new offense) and Petition to Revoke (PTRs)
*Tracking of Goals and Objectives for the Offender
*Tracking of Juvenile Referrals"

PRICING
N/A (must contact company directly for pricing)

NOTABLE CLIENTS

GCS Probation Tracking System

OVERVIEW
GCS Probation Tracking System has been in use in various formats since 1994. The company provides "public and private probation agencies with custom probation caseload management software to track people on probation" and can fully automate probation processes. The software can "keep track of all fines and fees, community service, restitution and many other tasks performed by probation officers."

NUMBER OF USERS
Not Available

FEATURES
*"Calendar Management
*Case History
*Collections Management
*Court Cost Records
*Fines Management"
*"Tracks probationer personal identification information
*Automates payment collection and receipt printing
*Collects restitution for multiple victims
*Tracks community service hours assessed and worked
*Can be used to track multiple courts

PRICING
Starts at $2,000 (one-time fee)

NOTABLE CLIENTS

MAYOR'S COURT

OVERVIEW
Mayor's Court is a product designed for smaller municipalities and is designed to help them "smoothly manage cases, monies and all details associated with a mayor’s court." There are currently two versions available to courts: Mayor's Court Full and Mayor's Court Lite. The product can also be customized to meet any municipality's needs. The software, which is Windows-based, "tracks cases, payments, disbursals, BMV and supreme court reporting, probation, license forfeitures, bonds/warrants"

NUMBER OF USERS

FEATURES
*"Case History
*Collections Management
*Court Cost Records
*Defendent Records
*Docket Management
*Fines Management
*Warrant Tracking"

PRICING
Starts at $1,600 (one-time fee)

NOTABLE CLIENTS

CLASSACT

OVERVIEW
ClassAct is a fully integrated case management product that is designed to solve a variety of court needs. It is "both a Windows product and Web product," which gives courts the choice that fits their needs best. It has also been built to "use several database backends (SQL Server, Oracle, etc.)" to again allow for flexibility. According to the website, "Class Act streamlines repetitive tasks, maximizes efficiencies and organizes complex information into useful data. By streamlining the flow, Class Act is able to help the Court save time, and money.

NUMBER OF USERS
Not available

FEATURES
*"Calendar Management
*Case History
*Defendent Records
*Document Imaging
*Billing Management
*Case Notes
*Conflict Management
*Court Management
*Government
*Records Management"

PRICING
N/A (Must contact company directly for pricing)

NOTABLE CLIENTS

Conclusion

Of the five probation management software products compared on the attached spreadsheet, CaseloadPRO appears to be the most popular product, with numerous counties, courts, and judicial systems currently holding contracts with this company.
Sources
Sources