In September 2011, the Vera Institute of Justice partnered with the Pew Center on the States and the Chicago-based civic organization Metropolis Strategies to bring together more than 50 practitioners to consider performance incentive funding (PIF) programs, a fiscal innovation that seeks to align the interests of the state corrections agency and local decision makers by rewarding the local agencies with funding when they improve their outcomes and lower their incarceration rates.
Since 2003, eight states have enacted legislation creating PIF programs. These programs are premised on the idea that if the supervision agency or locality sends fewer lower-level offenders to prison—thereby causing the state to incur fewer costs—some portion of the state savings should be shared with the agency or locality. With PIF, agencies or localities receive a financial reward for delivering fewer prison commitments through reduced recidivism and revocation which, in turn, must be reinvested into evidence-based programs in the community.
A report recently published by the Vera Institute outlines how PIF programs can lead to better offender outcomes while reducing overall corrections costs. The report describes the problem of misaligned incentives, lays out key objectives of PIF programs, offers lessons learned by the pioneering states, and highlights important decision points to help policymakers design their own PIF approach.
Why are states implementing PIF programs?
Although all community supervision agencies strive to achieve successful results, there are few, if any, incentives to do so. In fact, disincentives abound: the costs (in terms of time and money) of supervision; and the negative political consequences should an offender commit a high-profile crime while under supervision. Compounding the problem, the high failure rates of those on supervision and the absence of successful programs regularly lead prosecutors and judges to favor imprisonment over community-based sentences.
PIF programs address the structural disconnection within correctional systems by adding logical fiscal incentives to the mix. PIF programs can produce positive benefits for key stakeholders: states reduce the costs of building and operating prisons; agencies receive funding to fortify their community supervision programs; and public safety improves through reductions in recidivism, crime, and revocation rates.
Read the report
Research PIF resources by state
Performance Incentive Funding
B I B L I O G R A P H Y*
Adult Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board. Annual Report to the Governor and General Assembly on the Implementation and Projected Impact of Adult Redeploy Illinois. 2012.
Arizona Supreme Court, Adult Probation Services Division. Arizona Adult Probation: Probation Works in Arizona Fiscal Year 2011. Phoenix: Administrative Office of the Courts, 2012.
Bogue, Brad and others. Implementing Evidence-Based Practice in Community Corrections: The Principles of Effective Intervention. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, 2004.
Bonta, James and D.A. Andrews. Risk-Need-Responsivity Model for Offender Assessment and Rehabilitation. Ottawa: Public Safety Canada, 2007.
California Legislative Analyst’s Office. Achieving Better Outcomes for Adult Probation. Sacramento: Legislative Analyst’s Office, 2009.
California Administrative Office of the Courts. SB 678 Year 1 Report: Implementation of the California Community Corrections Performance Incentives Act. San Francisco: Administrative Office of the Courts, 2011.
California Administrative Office of the Courts. SB 678 Year 2 Report: Implementation of the California Community Corrections Performance Incentives Act of 2009. San Francisco: Administrative Office of the Courts, 2012.
Clear, Todd R.. “A Private-Sector, Incentives-Based Model for Justice Reinvestment.” Criminology & Public Policy 10, no. 3 (2011). [PASSWORD PROTECTED PUBLICATION]
Council of State Governments. A Ten Step Guide to Transforming Probation Departments to Reduce Recidivism. New York: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2011.
Council of State Governments Justice Center. Justice Reinvestment State Brief: Kansas. New York: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2007.
Domurad, Frank and Mark Carey. Implementing Evidence-Based Practices. Washington, DC: Center for Effective Public Policy, 2009.
Glaze, Lauren E. and Thomas P. Bonczar. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Probation and Parole in the United States, 2007. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 2008.
Henrichson, Christian and Ruth Delaney. The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2012.
Machado, Michael and Roger K. Warren. “Fixing California’s Prison System.” California Courts Review (Fall 2008).
Pew Center on the States. One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections. Washington, DC: Pew Charitable Trusts, 2009.
Pew Center on the States. South Carolina’s Public Safety Reform. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2010.
Pew Center on the States. State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2011.
Pew Center on the States. The Impact of Arizona’s Probation Reforms. Washington, DC: Pew Charitable Trusts, 2011.
San Francisco Adult Probation Department. SB 678 Status Report: Fiscal Year 2010/2011. 2012.
Subramanian, Ram and Rebecca Tublitz. Realigning Justice Resources: A Review of Population and Spending Shifts in Prison and Community Corrections. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2012.
The Urban Institute. Putting Public Safety First: 13 Parole Supervision Strategies to Enhance Reentry Outcomes. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, 2008.
*All sources listed here are cited in Vera's report, Performance Incentive Funding: Aligning Fiscal and Operational Responsibility to Produce More Safety at Less Cost.
PIF Resources by State
Adult PIF Programs
- Senate Bill 1476 (June 2008)
- Senate Bill 750 (March 2011)
- Senate Bill 678 (October 2009)
- Administrative Office of the Courts, SB 678 Year 1 Report
- Administrative Office of the Courts, SB 678 Year 2 Report
- Roger K. Warren, Probation Reform in California: Senate Bill 678
- Los Angeles Times PolitiCal blog, County Probation Departments Lose Incentive Funding
- Senate Bill 1289 (August 2009)
- Adult Redeploy Illinois Website
- Adult Redeploy Illinois, 2011 Annual Report
- Adult Redeploy Illinois, Standard Plan Template
- Senate Bill 14 (May 2007)
- Kansas Community Corrections, Statewide Risk Reduction Initiative: Annual Report 2012
- Kansas Department of Corrections, Community Corrections Comprehensive Plan Grant Application
- House Bill 463 (March 2011)
- House Bill 86 (May 2011):
- Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Probation Improvement and Incentive Grants, Request for Letters
- Senate Bill 1154 (June 2010)
- Senate Bill 1055 (June 2011)
- Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Senate Bill 1055, A “How To” Implementation Brief
- Marc Levin, Testimony: Incentivizing Lower Crime, Lower Costs to Taxpayers, and Increased Victim Restitution
Juvenile PIF Programs