Walter Campbell, Sarah Jalbert, and Holly Swan. The Effectiveness of Field Contacts in Community Supervision: A Multi-site, Multi-year Evaluation Using Matched Samples. Justice Evaluation Journal (2023): 1-20
Field contacts are a core practice within probation and parole. While criminological theory suggests field contacts may reduce recidivism, there is very little empirical evidence of this impact, and the costs of field contacts to officers and agencies are high. To date, only two studies have investigated the relationship between field contacts and recidivism, and both studies rely on a single site and regression modelling to address issues of endogeneity. The goal of the current study is to improve the strength of evidence of the effectiveness of field contacts in reducing recidivism through a multi-site study that addresses previously unaddressed methodological issues. This study employs coarsened exact matching, numerous variations in model specification, and alterations of sample specification to address issues of endogeneity. When accounting for other differences between supervisees who receive field contacts and those who do not, the use of field contacts is accompanied by reductions in recidivism. These findings provide vital information for understanding what works within community supervision. This study was limited to examining the use of one or more field contacts; future research should explore the impact of varying dosage as well as other forms of contact.