State laws are in place providing incentives for compliance for both probation and parole. These statutory incentives can take the form of credits for reduced probation or parole terms, criminal record clearing, as well as establishing authority for agencies to create incentives for compliance.
Credits for Reduced Terms
Compliance credits are the predominant way states have addressed incentives in statute, offering the ability to earn time off the term of probation or parole for remaining free of violations, as well as for completing certain programs.
Laws in at least 18 states create the opportunity for individuals to shorten their probation term for complying with the conditions of their probation. To learn more about supervision conditions, see NCSL’s primer on tailoring conditions of supervision.
Variation exists in the amount of time an individual can earn towards a supervision term. An analysis of these laws from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that in 11 states someone can earn 20 days or more for every 30 days served without a violation. In four states, people can earn up to 20 days and in three states credits are available for completing certain programs.
Nevada’s law provides a credit of 10 days for each month the person on probation has paid their supervision fees and restitution, plus an additional 10 days for each month they are “actively involved in employment or enrolled in a program of education, rehabilitation or any other program.” (§ 176A.500)
In some states, these credits are unavailable for individuals convicted of some offenses. For instance, in Arkansas, people convicted of a felony involving violence, kidnapping, manslaughter, or driving or boating while intoxicated are unable to earn credits. (§ 16-90-1302) Similarly, Delaware excludes people convicted of sexual offenses or violent felonies. (11 Del. C. § 4383)
Fewer states have the ability to shorten a term of parole based on compliance with conditions, though there are at least 12 states with laws in place.
Many of those states allow for either 20 or 30 days of credit for each month the individual complies with the terms of parole. California enacted legislation in 2020 which established the Medically Assisted Treatment Reentry Incentive Program making individuals eligible for a 30-day reduction in their parole term for every six months of treatment completed.
Ten states—Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota and Wyoming—have authorized compliance credits for both probation and parole.
In Nevada, people released on parole after Jan. 1, 2004, can earn both 20 days for each month they are current on fees and restitution, and 10 days per month if “diligence in labor or study merits such credits.” (§ 209.4475) A similar policy is in place for probation credits.
A 2017 survey of 200 people on probation found that compliance credits are the most preferred incentive among individuals under supervision. Compliance credits that shortened the supervision term were preferred over other incentives such as a $50 fee waiver, reduced reporting requirements or a $50 gift card.
A handful of states have also directed state agencies or supervision boards to create a grid or matrix of incentives for compliance.
Nebraska’s division of parole supervision highlights the use of a standardized matrix of responses for violations as well as prosocial behaviors. The matrix permits parole officers to “support prosocial behavior by issuing rewards that are meaningful to the individual.” When a person on parole displays prosocial behaviors, their supervision officer can recognize that with graduated positive responses which acknowledge “both smaller positive changes as well as larger achievements such as the completion of case planning objectives and attaining goals.”
Alaska’s statute requires the establishment of “an administrative sanction and incentive program to facilitate a swift and effective response to a probationer’s compliance with or violation of the conditions of probation.” (§ 33.05.020) The commissioner is directed to adopt regulations which include a list of incentives for complying with conditions, as well as positive behavior that goes beyond those conditions.
Montana’s Department of Corrections, responsible for oversight of adult probation and parole in the state, has an incentives and interventions grid. Examples of available incentives include:
- Verbal recognition.
- Letter of recognition.
- Requesting modification of conditions, such as waiving supervision fee.
- Reduced supervision fees.
- Permissions to travel in-state.
- Ability to skip a face-to-face appointment with a supervision officer.