Supervising Probationers with Mental Disorder: How Do Agencies Respond To Violations?

Although many probation agencies have instituted specialty mental health caseloads, little is known about the policies and practices of these caseloads. The authors surveyed supervisors of 54 specialty and 20 traditional probation agencies. The survey yielded three key findings. First, most agencies lack formal policies on officers’ supervision of probationers with mental illness (PMIs). Second, relative to traditional officers, specialty officers are more involved in supervising PMIs, meeting with PMIs more often, functioning as part of a treatment team, and using problem solving strategies. Third, although both agency types use graduated sanctions, traditional officers generally respond to PMIs’ noncompliance with more punitive strategies than specialty officers. Implications for developing and evaluating these caseloads are discussed.