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Smart Justice: A New Paradigm For Dealing With Offenders

By: Stephen K. Talpins, John T. Chisolm,
David LaBahn, Kevin Sabet, Matthew Dunagan, and Erin Holmes

Smart JusticeThis article looks at why traditional punitive approaches to criminal justice are not successful and defines Smart Justice by presenting its basic principles and 4 areas of focus.

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Supervising Offenders: The New Shade of Gray?

Guest blog by Kerri Wagner

Kerri WagnerReducing recidivism is tethered to our willingness to apply alternative interventions that target offender thinking and requires inclusive buy-in from all stakeholders. It necessitates us [as supervisory agents] to own a part of the problem and to become a part of the solution.

Strongly influenced by my Wyoming upbringing and my tough-on-crime, High Sheriff father; I held deep-rooted views on crime and punishment. At the age of 21, I followed my father’s example; entering the field of law enforcement, where my unfettered, conservative values abetted a successful career as a police officer. Opting for a career change, I was hired as a parole agent for the South Dakota Department of Corrections (DOC) in 2005.

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Research Summary

Efficacy of Frequent Monitoring With Swift, Certain, and Modest Sanctions for Violations: Insights From South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project

Kerri WagnerResearchers at the RAND Corporation have been studying the South Dakota 24-7 Sobriety Program under an NIAAA grant. On November 15, 2012, they released their first article addressing the program’s impact on recidivism at the community level. Using very conservative criteria, they determined that it correlated with a 12% reduction in recidivism among repeat DUI offenders and a 9% reduction in recidivism among domestic violence offenders.

RAND’s analysis is particularly timely in light of Congress’ authorization of funding for 24-7 Sobriety Program’s in the 2012 highway authorization law (MAP-21).

The reasearch appears in an article in the American Journal of Public Health.

A New Approach to Reducing Drunk Driving and Domestic Violence

Kerri WagnerAccompanying the release of the article above, Beau Kilmer, senior policy researcher and codirector of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, posted a video blog that discusses the conclusions of the peer-reviewed research.

Watch Video »

More Research Summaries »


State Briefs


Kerri WagnerThe Florida Smart Justice Alliance, which includes Associated Industries of Florida and Florida TaxWatch, says it is seeking alternatives to incarceration that would be more effective and eventually cut some of the $2.1 billion a year price tag on the incarceration of approximately 100,000 inmates. The group has already started meeting with judges, sheriffs and others in the criminal justice pipeline.

In October, NPAMC CEO Stephen K. Talpins presented on Smart Justice and the South Dakota 24-7 Sobriety Program. The Alliance will present its findings during a Dec. 12-14 summit in Orlando. The summit’s goal to reach consensus on providing assistance in an institutional rehab program — a program that could be offered to the state Legislature.

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Updated this issue:
California | Florida | Georgia| Montana | New Jersey |
New York
| South Dakota | Wyoming

National Briefs


Congress passed and President Obama signed a law reauthorizing highway funds. Called “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” or MAP-21, the law contains several Smart Justice provisions. Most notably, it authorizes funding for state driving coordinators who can address their respective state’s DUI laws on enforcement and adjudication, Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutors (TSRP), ignition interlock devices, alcohol screening and brief interventions for impaired drivers, and 24-7 Sobriety Programs.

National Association of Counties (NACo)

The NACo Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee passed a resolution supporting the use of continuous alcohol monitoring with house arrest as an alternative to incarceration for pre-trial defendants.

National Highway Traffice Safety
Administration (NHTSA)

NHTSA released a new report that provides a comprehensive look at transdermal alcohol monitoring programs in six jurisdictions across the country. The report, Transdermal Alcohol Monitoring: Case Studies, is part of NHTSA’s Impaired driving program and follows a report on Ignition Interlock Case Studies.

NHTSA summarized, “information from these six case studies revealed that: a) use of transdermal alcohol monitoring of DWI offenders is increasing; b) transdermal alcohol monitoring appears to reliably monitor alcohol use by offenders and thus is beneficial to officials; c) transdermal-monitoring devices appear not to have any insurmountable problems.”

Pew Charitable Trusts Public Safety Performance Project (PSPP)

The PSPP released Time Served: The High Cost of Longer Prison Terms, a study that examines the costs and returns associated with longer term incarceration.

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International Briefs


Kerri WagnerThe Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) announced this year’s Barry Sweedler Award recipient, Mr. Ilyas Daoud. at the 2012 Alcohol Interlock Symposium in Helsinki, Finland. Mr. Daoud is a project officer at the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) and manages ETSC’s Safe and Sober campaign. Safe and Sober is aimed at promoting the development and deployment of alcohol interlocks in the commercial sector as well as in offender programs.  


Kerri WagnerRussia quickly stiffened their drunk driving legislation after a man killed five orphans and their two adult supervisors by plowing into a bus stop after a two-day drinking binge. Moscow police arrested 522 people for drunken driving in the first four days after the crash. The legislation calls for an increase in fines by ten times, and to sentence drunk drivers to prison. See After Tragedy, Russia rethinks drunk driving for more.

More International Briefs »

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