Sanction Reform Policies and Prison Officers’ Decision to Open Hearing

Benjamin Steiner
Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska, Omaha

Key Findings

  • Adding a structured sanctioning policy in Ohio prisons decreased the number of revocation hearings by officers but did not change officers’ hearing decisions.
  • The number of previous sanctions an offender had contributed to an officer’s decision to open a hearing.
  • Classification of offender (high or low-risk offending) affects an officer’s decision to open a hearing.
  • The number of service referrals and the offender’s living situation did not affect an officer’s hearing decision.


In the study, “Short-term effects of sanctioning reform on parole officers’ revocation decisions,” Steiner focused on officer revocation hearings before and after Ohio prisons created the sanctioning policy. The research looked at offenders, who had violated parole or post-release control in Ohio, and focused on parole officers’ responses to the violations. The results found officers opened and followed through with  hearings if the offender had been sanctioned multiple times beforehand and if they were classified as high-risk offenders. Factors that did not affect an officer’s decision were the number of service referrals or if the offender was living with a parent or spouse.

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