Understanding parole officers' responses to sanctioning reform

Benjamin Steiner, Lawrence F. Travis, Matthew D. Makarios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


There are constant calls for reform in the criminal justice system, but observers have often reported that criminal justice reform is an exceptionally challenging task. As with any organizational change, resistance to new policies, procedures, and practices comes from a variety of sources. The relatively broad discretionary authority vested in line-level personnel often contributes to the difficulty associated with implementing change in criminal justice agencies. There is ample evidence that line staff resistance to organizational reform can undermine the implementation of organizational change. In this study, the authors examine the effects of the state of Ohio's transition to graduated sanctioning guidelines on parole officers-in particular, how these reforms were perceived by the key actors in the sanctioning process: parole officers. Findings from a statewide survey revealed that officers were generally dissatisfied with the restrictions on their discretion resulting from the reform. Analyses revealed that organizational factors such as officers' perceptions concerning how the sanctioning policy was implemented and its intended purposes were more influential than individual characteristics in shaping officers' views concerning the efficacy of the reform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-246
Number of pages25
JournalCrime and Delinquency
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • organizational change
  • parole
  • reform
  • sanction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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