Probation Violations and Sentencing Decisions: The Imprisonment of Low-Level Drug Offenders in Arizona

Nancy Rodriguez, Arizona State University West
Vincent J. Webb, Arizona State University West

The relationship between probation and criminal offending has received notable attention in prior studies. Such studies have primarily focused on the impact of probation violation in criminal activity. To date, very few studies have analyzed how probation violations impact sentencing outcomes. In fact, the decision to revoke probation and the role of revocations in prosecution and sentencing decisions remains unexamined. In this study, we examine how the passage of Arizona's mandatory drug treatment law impacted probation violations and how those particular violations influenced sentencing outcomes of drug cases. We also compare sentencing decisions across probations and non-probations. We rely on a stratified sample of incarcerated low-level drug offenders and use data from probation, prosecution, and sentencing case files from four Arizona counties. Policy implications for probation supervision and drug treatment laws are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006