Probation Evolution

Evolving Probation Services at Seattle Municipal Court

In June 2020, Seattle Municipal Court released an evaluation of our Probation Services department commissioned from the Vera Institute of Justice. In 2021, the Seattle Office of the City Auditor released an additional assessment of Probation Services.

Based on the findings in both assessments and our goal of eliminating disproportionate impacts on those we serve, the court is evolving its probation program.

What is Changing?

We have made several changes to our probation program so far. This includes:

  • Focused probation on high-risk case types, such as driving under the influence (DUI) and domestic violence cases
  • Discontinued criminal records checks after clients complete court-ordered obligations, except in DUI cases where an ignition interlock device (IID) is required by statute
  • Eliminated discretionary probation fees
  • Implemented a new case closure policy, requiring probation counselors to administratively close probation and stop monitoring as soon as a client's conditions are met
  • Began collecting client-reported race and ethnicity data to improve our ability to track outcomes for different demographic groups
  • Implemented a client exit survey
  • As of March 21, 2022, eliminated use of risk assessment tools for determining a probation client's reporting frequency

On October 3, 2022, we implemented three new policies as part of the Probation Evolution project:

  • A classification system that determines probation clients’ reporting frequency. The reporting guidelines are broken up into three phases, and clients will move to the next phase based on their progress with meeting their probation requirements.
  • A case plan model that includes the client’s court-ordered conditions plus their personal goals and needs in one document, where all areas of focus and needed support are highlighted.
  • Quarterly progress reports that show clients’ accomplishments and any barriers they face, allowing the defense, prosecutor, and judge to have a clear picture of each client’s journey through the system.

Probation Services Data Reports

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