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Intensive Supervision Definition Research Paper


The variety of criminal offenses may be rather large. As a result, to address different outlaw behaviors the justice system implements a number of various policies and programs. One of them is called intensive supervision. This paper focuses on the exploration of intensive supervision, its definition, main aspects, and components, the groups of individuals it targets, and the measures it includes. Individual supervision carries many benefits, yet at the same time, it has several limitations.

Definition of Intensive Supervision

Intensive supervision is the kind of sentence that is designed to enforce a criminal’s rehabilitation, and to enable their reintegration into the society. The main objective of intensive supervision is to prevent the possible re-offence and re-engagement of a sentenced individual in the previous or new criminal activities.

The court judges are the ones who enable intensive supervision in the cases where such solution is deemed to be a successful way to address the potential dangerous behaviors in the future. Intensive supervision is implemented in order to support an offenders need for rehabilitation and help them start living a new safer life, as well as to ensure the security of the communities around and the society in general by means of reducing the number of individuals apt to commit crimes (Department of Corrections, n. d.).

Terms and Conditions

Intensive supervision is applicable to both adult and juvenile offenders. The sentence can last for a term of six months to two years. The conditions of the supervision program for each particular offender vary depending on the decision of the judge. The court shapes each intensive supervision sentence based on a set of standard and special elements that a judge selects due to the recognized needs of the offender and their individual situations.

Among the most common requirements and conditions of intensive supervision programs there are an obligation to be in contact with the supervisors often and regularly report or meet with them, restrictions concerning the work and accommodation (for, example, one may be required to change their address, or on the contrary, to stay in a particular place without permission to move). The individuals under intensive supervision programs may be required to do a number of hours of community service works.

Moreover, intensive supervision is in place in order to provide careful monitoring of the actions and behavioral tendencies of the convicts to correct the most dangerous patterns and protect the society. In case if the convicts breach rules of the supervision programs, the judge may replace their sentences with more restrictive ones, or concern imprisonment.

The offenders targeted by the intensive supervision programs may be those who have committed violence, drug, and sex crimes and are suspected to be inclined to repeat their activities, as well as those who are proved to be members of criminal gangs or those who are at risk of being taken over by gangs (County of San Mateo, n. d.; Nevada Department of Public Safety, n. d.).

Analysis of the Goals and Objectives

Intensive supervision is an alternative to incarceration. The main advantage of this approach to the corrections is that it is less restrictive and allows a convict’s interactions with the society and various rehabilitation communities. In many cases, intensive supervision programs include obligatory attendance of councilors and support groups for the offenders.

For example, the supervision program implemented by New Jersey Courts provides scheduled plans for the participants to re-engage with the community by means of various studying and working plans (Domingo & Esposito, 2015). That approach helps the convicts to obtain a structure in their lives assisting them with finding a new way of life.

The board involved in the selection of the participants for such programs includes several professionals who screen the candidates and determine whether or not they are suitable for restrictive supervision. The beneficial influence of the intensive supervision is its alleviation of the problem of prison overcrowding since some of the convicts do not have to be incarcerated but monitored through special programs.

The jail overcrowding issue became very serious throughout the 1980s (Domingo & Esposito, 2015; Record 3.2 Million in Jail or Under Supervision, 2015). As the nation with the leading number of the imprisoned individuals, the United States began to address this issue and by the middle of the 1980s the number of probationers in the country has increased significantly (Record 3.2 Million in Jail or Under Supervision, 2015).

Ethical Issues

The modern justice system treats intensive supervision as a solution alternative to and more successful than the standard incarceration; this attitude is recognized as false as according to multiple surveys the supervision problems do not have a better reconviction and recidivism statistics than imprisonment (Braswell, McCarthy, & McCarthy, 2014). That way, intensive supervision cannot be advertised as a “cure” for repetitive criminal behaviors that the traditional imprisonment failed to eliminate.

At the same time, a multitude of the convicts receive help through intensive supervision programs and successfully reintegrate into the society. The researches show that the intensive programs that include personal treatment and counseling for the offenders (psychological help, assistance with harmful habits such as drug and alcohol abuse, support groups, and treatment of mental health issues) tend to be more successful (Braswell et al., 2014).

Another commonly mentioned advantage of the intensive supervision programs is their capacity to save costs as they require fewer funds than the keeping of the offenders in prisons. The latter claim it true, intensive supervision is less expensive than incarceration, but at the same time it is more costly than the regular supervision of the convicts (Braswell et al., 2014). That occurs due to more penetrative nature of intensive supervision, and because of the involvement of more people, services, and operations in the programs.

Finally, as pointed out by Braswell et al. (2014), intensive supervision is deemed as a valid solution to the problems of prison overcrowding, yet, in reality, it does the opposite bringing more individuals to the corrections facilities. Such tendency appears as a result of an extremely thorough approach to the behaviors of the participants of intensive supervision programs.

Most of them are required to follow a set of rather complex and all-consuming rules as well as undergo multiple tests and screenings to continue staying on the program. The conditions of the intensive supervision problems contribute to the inevitable violations of their rules, which subsequently leads to the reevaluation of the sentence and imprisonment.

That way, the main ethical problem of the intensive supervision practices concerns its promotion. Therefore, the dilemma of this case is the question whether or not the general profile of intensive supervision should be altered and made more truthful, and if this action will minimize the popularity and demand for the intensive supervision programs.


To sum up, among the main benefits provided by the intensive supervision practices there are multiple successful cases of reintegration of the ex-convicts in the society and prevention of recidivism, as well as the cost reduction compared to the standard incarceration. At the same time, the main disadvantages of the programs are their inability to deliver re-offence prevention significant enough to be advertised as a more successful crime-fighting solution than imprisonment, the contribution to the growth of the imprisoned population, and the expenses larger than those of the regular supervision programs.

Reference List

Braswell, M. C., McCarthy, B. R. & McCarthy, B. J. (2014). Justice, Crime, and Ethics. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

County of San Mateo, (n. d.). .

Department of Corrections, (n. d.).

Domingo, L., & Esposito, R. A. (2015). The New Jersey Intensive Supervision Program (ISP).

Nevada Department of Public Safety, (n. d.). Intensive Supervision Programs (ISU).

. (2015).

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