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Intensive Probation Supervision

Ages 14-18

Rating: Level 3


The Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Intensive Probation Supervision (IPS) program provides intensive supervision and treatment services to serious felony juvenile offenders. The supervision components consist of 1) a 30-day period of house arrest, 2) strict curfews, 3) hourly school reports on attendance and behavior, and 4) compliance with all program rules. The basic treatment service model is provided through service brokerage, whereby community resources are used to treat youth. In addition, the program uses a team structure approach for the supervision and treatment of each youth. Each team consists of three surveillance officers, one senior probation counselor, and one probation manager. The senior probation counselor plays a critical role, providing administrative supervision of the team members and coordinating the services the client receives. A comprehensive needs assessment instrument determines the services provided to each probationer. Both the probation officer and the youth develop a behavioral contract that stipulates the objectives to be accomplished during the probation period. This contract is signed by the officer, the youth, and (if possible) the youth’s parent or guardian. Youths remain in IPS anywhere from 8 to 14½ months.

The program is divided into three phases. With each successive phase, intensity of supervision and surveillance decreases. The phases culminate in the formation of an aftercare support group and discharge.

Phase 1 (3 to 4 months) consists of

  • A probation agreement (behavior contract)
  • Three weekly contacts (at random) by the surveillance officer
  • A counseling session every 2 weeks by a probation counselor
  • Team assessment—by the probation officer, the probation counselor, and the surveillance officer—using risk and needs assessment
  • Service delivery that addresses treatment needs

Phase 2 (2 to 3 months) consists of

  • Two weekly random contacts by the surveillance officer
  • Service delivery that addresses treatment needs
  • Increased parental responsibility

Phase 3 (1 to 2 months) consists of

  • Weekly random contacts by the surveillance officer
  • Complete formation of a support group (parents and significant others)
  • Discharge


The program was evaluated using a quasi-experimental comparison group design with a nonequivalent comparison group. The recidivism rates of all IPS youths from August 1986 through July 1987 (n=127) were compared with a random sample of youths (n=363) placed on traditional probation in 1984, before the IPS program was introduced. The probation classification instrument showed that 89 percent of IPS youths were male, 51 percent were minorities, 44 percent were 16–17 when they were placed on probation, and 80 percent were referred for a probation violation. The ‘IPS classified’ youths in 1984 were 74 percent male and 49 percent minority, and 45 percent of them were 15–16 when they were placed on probation. All comparison youths scored at the same level as the IPS youths on a probation classification system.

The study also compared the recidivism rates of a random sample of youths placed in a traditional program from August 1986 through July 1987 (n=583) with the same random sample of youths placed on probation in 1984. The 1986–87 sample was 73 percent male and 50 percent African-American, and it was equally distributed across the probation levels.

Recidivism was defined as a new offense subsequent to the probation order, excluding probation violations. Data was tracked for 18 months through the juvenile court’s management information system and the court’s personal computer for youths’ risk factor classification category and subsequent offenses while on probation.


The evaluation results suggest that the IPS program produced a large reduction in recidivism. In probation, comparison youths reoffended at a rate of 65.2 percent, whereas youths placed in the IPS program had a 46.5 percent recidivism rate, which resulted in a recidivism reduction of 28.7 percent after the implementation of the IPS program. An analysis comparing recidivism rates by race for the IPS intervention group showed no statistically significant differences.

The comparison of the probation samples showed similar recidivism rates for the 1984 and 1986–87 samples (31.1 percent versus 32.1 percent). When comparing across supervision levels, differences emerge. The low-classification group exhibited an increase in recidivism rates, from 9.6 percent to 18.0 percent. The medium-supervision youths showed a slight increase, from 30.3 percent to 34.7 percent. The high-level supervision group exhibited a decrease in recidivism, from 52.2 percent to 50.0 percent. The ‘ISP classified’ youths showed an even greater decrease in recidivism, from 65.5 percent to 52.4 percent. These impressive results seem to be attributable to four key factors. First, the probation graduated-sanctions system was driven by an empirically validated risk assessment instrument that classified offenders according to their degree of risk for recidivism. Only high-risk offenders were admitted to the IPS program. Second, intensive services were delivered along with intensive supervision. Third, the program used a needs assessment instrument to identify priority treatment needs and to develop and implement treatment plans. Fourth, the senior probation counselor on each unit team played a critical role in ensuring that probation officers abided by the classification system in making placement decisions and handling IPS probationers in a manner consistent with the IPS program guidelines.


Hamparian, Donna M., and Lynn Sametz. 1990. Innovative Programs in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court: Intensive Probation Supervision and Probation Classification. Cleveland, Ohio: Federation for Community Planning, Ohio Serious Juvenile Offender Project.

Wiebush, Richard G., and Donna M. Hamparian. 1991. “Variations in ‘Doing’ Intensive Supervision: Programmatic Issues in Four Ohio Jurisdictions.” In Troy L. Armstrong (ed.). Intensive Interventions With High-Risk Youths: Promising Approaches in Juvenile Probation and Parole. Monsey, N.Y.: Criminal Justice Press, 153–88.


Tim McDevitt
2163 E. 22nd Street
Cleveland, OH 44115
Phone: (216) 749-1200