In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Community Corrections

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Data Sources
  • Sentencing and Pretrial Detention
  • Probation and Nonresidential Sanctions
  • Drug and Specialty Courts
  • Residential Sanctions
  • Restorative Justice
  • Economic Justice
  • Parole and Reentry

Criminology Community Corrections
Beth M. Huebner, Bobby Boxerman
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 April 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 April 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0038


Most individuals under correctional supervision reside in the community. Community corrections includes a broad array of programs including alternatives to incarceration (such as boot camps or probation) and services, like parole, that aid individuals in making the transition to community life after imprisonment. Professionals in the field of community corrections have the dual role of ensuring accountability to both the criminal sanction and provision of services. There is substantial variation in forms of community sanctions, and these programs can be administered by a broad range of agencies within the criminal justice system, including corrections, courts, probation, and the police. In an era of mass incarceration, correctional agencies have been called on to supervise an ever-increasing number of individuals in the community. Subsequently, scholars and practitioners alike have called for the development and evaluation of community-based correctional programming. The following literature summarizes the prominent works in this area and provides sources of reliable data on a range of community sanctions.

General Overviews

A number of texts and governmental monographs have been developed to provide primers on a variety of community corrections topics. For example, Alarid 2015 is an undergraduate introductory text that examines probation, parole, and residential and nonresidential sanctions. Latessa and Lovins 2019 also provides a broad overview of community corrections that would supplement an undergraduate course on the subject. Hanser 2014 includes discussion of community sanctions outside of the United States, an involved discussion of the theory-practice connection, and greater focus on use of technology in community corrections. Karp and Clear 2002 is a series of probation case studies and this book would be an excellent addition to an undergraduate course or as a supplementary text for a graduate course in community sanctions. A number of governmental reports summarize data on individuals under correctional supervision in the community. Kaeble and Alper 2020 provides updated national estimates of individuals under probation and parole in the United States. Similarly, Pew Center on the States 2009 provides an astute policy analysis of current topics in community corrections, augmented with current statistics and detailed graphical displays of correctional trends. Both reports are appropriate for established researchers, practitioners, and students. In addition, a number of professional organizations host web-based research libraries. The American Probation and Parole Association maintains an online reference library of national- and state-level reports; the International Community Corrections Association hosts a similar forum with data and reports from the United States and abroad. Phelps 2019 presents an excellent overview of the present state of probation in the United States and details the originals of the practice as well as the historical factors contributing to its development. Additionally, the National Institute of Corrections hosts a superb repository of state- and national-level research monographs on institutional and community corrections topics.

  • Alarid, Leanne Fiftal. 2015. Community-based corrections. 11th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.

    Introductory textbook including sections on probation, community sanctions, residential sanctions, and prisoner reentry. Each chapter has links to online resources, discussion questions, and case studies.

  • American Probation and Parole Association.

    Professional organization maintaining an online reference library. Website includes policy reports, training materials, and facts and figures on probation and parole in the United States.

  • Hanser, Robert. 2014. Community corrections. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Textbook with an applied, practical perspective focusing on reentry and rehabilitation. Discusses international practices as well as application of theory to community sanction issues. Superb core or supplemental material for an undergraduate course.

  • International Community Corrections Association.

    International professional group organized with the goal of synthesizing evidence-based research on community corrections. Web resource includes policy papers on a range of correctional topics.

  • Kaeble, Danielle, and Marial Alper. 2020. Probation and parole in the United States, 2017–2018. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

    National estimates of the probation and parole population in the states from 2017 to 2018. Includes trends, changes in demographics, and program entry/exit rates.

  • Karp, David R., and Todd R. Clear. 2002. What is community justice? Case studies of restorative justice and community supervision. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Edited collection of six case studies designed to illustrate best practices in probation. Excellent addition to an advanced undergraduate course.

  • Latessa, Edward, and Brian Lovins. 2019. Corrections in the community. 7th ed. New York and Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780429424021

    Updated introductory text providing a holistic view of community corrections. Includes contemporary data and focuses on program evaluation and improvement, including specialty courts. Thorough overview of community corrections for an undergraduate course.

  • National Institute of Corrections.

    Comprehensive online resource center for timely research on correctional interventions and treatment. Includes an extensive library of scholarly research and state-level technical reports and commentary.

  • Pew Center on the States. 2009. One in 31: The long reach of American corrections. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts.

    Comprehensive narrative and statistical analysis of the prevalence of community corrections in the United States. Includes a number of case studies and detailed graphical analyses; an excellent policy paper for students, practitioners, and researchers.

  • Phelps, Michelle. 2019. Mass probation from micro to macro: Tracing the expansion and consequences of community supervision. Annual Review of Criminology 3:261–279.

    Broad-scope piece that details the parallel phenomena of mass incarceration and mass probation. Includes a detailed history of the development of modern probation and its effects on different demographic groups as well as a thorough review of the existing literature on the social ramifications of mass probation.

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