Community Corrections (SB 678)

The Judicial Council is involved in the administration of two community supervision initiatives that promote the use of evidence-based practices in the sentencing and supervising of felony offenders.

The California Risk Assessment Pilot Project (CalRAPP)

CalRAPP Final Report
The California Risk Assessment Pilot Project: The Use of Risk and Needs Assessment Information in Adult Felony Probation Sentencing and Violation Proceedings, December 2015

The California Risk Assessment Pilot Project (CalRAPP) began in 2009 as a joint project of the Judicial Council of California (JCC) and the Chief Probation Officers of California, and is funded by the National Institute of Corrections and the State Justice Institute.

This pilot project, which took place in four California counties (i.e., Napa, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Yolo), focused on evidence-based practices and the ways in which risk and needs assessment (RNA) information can be incorporated into adult felony probation sentencing and violation proceedings. Some highlighted findings include:

  • Probation departments in the pilot sites sentenced a significantly lower proportion of adult felony probationers to prison and jail compared to probation departments in the rest of the state; and
  • Individual-level findings support the predictive validity of the RNA tools utilized by the pilot sites as tools that are able to predict the occurrence of future noncompliant behavior.

The California Community Corrections Performance Incentives Act of 2009 (SB 678 program)

The Legislature designed the California Community Corrections Performance Incentives Act of 2009, or SB 678 program with two purposes: to alleviate state prison overcrowding and save state General Fund monies. These purposes are to be accomplished without compromising public safety by reducing the number of individuals on felony supervision (i.e. felony probation, mandatory supervision, post release community supervision) who are sent to state prison. The program is also designed to encourage county probation departments to use evidence-based supervision practices to accomplish these goals.

SB 678, the California Community Corrections Performance Incentives Act of 2009, establishes a system of performance-based funding that shares state General Fund savings with county probation departments that reduce their probation failure rate (PFR), originally defined in statute as the number of adult felony probationers who are revoked to state prison in a year as a percentage of the average probation population during the same period. At the center of SB 678 is the use of evidence-based practices to improve public safety and incentive based funding.

Since passage of the act, the State of California has adopted significant changes in criminal justice policies that directly impacted SB 678—most notably the 2011 Public Safety Realignment, which reduced the number of probationers eligible for revocation to state prison and created two new groups of offenders subject to local supervision. In order to maintain effective incentives and account for the significant changes in criminal justice policy, SB 85, adopted as a trailer bill to the 2015–2016 State Budget, revises the SB 678 funding formula and creates a funding methodology that should serve as a long-term formula. Prior to the adoption of SB 85, the state adopted temporary measures.

Revised Funding Methodology

Below is a summary of the newly revised SB 678 funding formula, which includes three funding components:

Funding Component #1: Comparison of county to statewide return to prison rates

The first funding component measures each county’s performance against statewide failure rates. Each county’s return to prison rate (RPR), which equals the number of individuals on felony probation, mandatory supervision, and PRCS sent to prison as a percentage of the total supervised population, is compared to statewide RPRs since the original SB 678 baseline period (2006–2008).

If a county’s RPR is less than or equal to the original statewide baseline of 7.9%, the county will receive a percentage of its highest SB 678 payment from the period between program inception and FY 2014–2015. Depending on how a county’s RPR compares to statewide RPRs, a county can receive between 40 and 100% of its highest payment. The statewide RPRs and percentages of savings are defined as follows:

  • If a county’s RPR is below 1.5%, the county will receive 100% of its highest prior payment.
  • If a county’s RPR is greater than or equal to 1.5% but no higher than 3.2%, the county will receive 70% of its highest prior payment.
  • If a county’s RPR is above 3.2% but no higher than 5.5%, the county will receive 60% of its highest prior payment.
  • If a county’s RPR is above 5.5% but no higher than 6.1%, the county will receive 50% of its highest prior payment.
  • If a county’s RPR is above 6.1% but no higher than 7.9%, the county will receive 40% of its highest prior payment.

Tier Category Based on Statewide RPR Percentage of Highest Prior SB 678 Payment

RPR <1.5%


RPR ≥1.5% and ≤3.2%


RPR >3.2% and ≤5.5%


RPR >5.5% and ≤6.1%


RPR >6.1% and ≤7.9%


Funding Component #2: Comparison of each county’s return to prison rate and its failure rate in the previous year

The second funding component is based on how each county performs in comparison to its performance the previous year. Each year a county’s RPR from the previous year is applied to its current year’s felony supervised populations to calculate the expected number of prison revocations. If a county sends fewer individuals on felony supervision to prison than the expected number, the county will receive 35% of the state’s costs to incarcerate an individual in prison multiplied by the number of avoided prison stays. The number of avoided prison revocations are calculated separately for each felony supervised population (i.e. felony probation, mandatory supervision, PRCS).

  • For example, if a county had a 3.2% RPR for its felony probation population in 2013 and 10,000 people on felony probation in 2014, its expected number of felony probation prison revocations in 2014 would be 320. If only 300 felony probationers were actually sent to prison in 2014, the county avoided sending 20 individuals to prison and would receive 35% of the state’s cost to imprison these 20 individuals.

In order to continue to receive funds under this component, probation departments must continually reduce their return to prison rates year after year.

Funding Component #3: $200,000 minimum payment

The third funding component guarantees a minimum payment of $200,000 to support ongoing implementation of evidence-based practices. If a county’s total payment (from funding components 1 and 2) is less than $200,000, the Department of Finance will increase the final award amount so that it totals $200,000.

Yearly Allocations

At the end of each calendar year the California Department of Finance (DOF) determines each probation department’s SB 678 funding allocation based on each county’s performance as described above.

County probation departments must spend SB 678 funds on the implementation or enhancement of evidence-based practices, including, but not limited to, risk/needs assessment, use of graduated sanctions, and provision of evidence-based treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

County allocations for each year of the SB 678 program can be found here:

The SB 678 legislation mandates consistent monitoring and reporting of program implementation and requires county probation departments to report information on the use of evidence-based practices and probationer outcomes to the Administrative Office of the Courts (renamed Judicial Council July 29, 2014) to ensure the program is having its intended effect. The following reports from the Judicial Council and one from the Pew Center on the States provide information on implementation and program findings. In summary:

The SB 678 program and its performance-based funding mechanism has created significant state savings by lowering the number of offenders sent to state prison over the past five years.

  • In 2010, the first calendar year county probation departments implemented the program, the average daily population in state prison dropped by an estimated 6,008 offenders as a result of SB 678. The state’s overall probation failure rate dropped from the 2006–2008 baseline rate of 7.9% to 6.1%, a 23% reduction.
  •  In 2011, the probation failure rate continued to decline to 5.5%.

To take the impact of public safety realignment into account, county jail and prison revocations were summed to calculate the total number of revocations in 2012 and 2013.

  • In 2012, the probation failure rate remained at 5.5% (Prison-2.6%, Jail-1.9%), and increased in 2013 to 5.9% (Prison-2.9%, Jail-3.0%). In 2014, the PFR declined to 5.6% (Prison-2.6%, Jail-3.1%).
  • Using the modified methodology for fiscal year 2015-2016, as described above, the prison return rate for 2014 is 3.2%, compared to 3.4% in 2013. Please note that the revised prison return rate should not be used for comparisons to previous years, given the change in populations and justice policy.

The effectiveness of California’s counties in reducing the number of individuals under felony supervision sent to state prison resulted in statewide savings of approximately $934.6 million over five years. Using SB 678’s performance-based funding formula, the state distributed $574.6 million since program inception to county probation departments to reinvest in effective supervision practices.

A fundamental component of SB 678 is the implementation of evidence-based practices (EBPs) by county probation departments. SB 678 defines evidence-based practices as “supervision policies, procedures, programs, and practices demonstrated by scientific research to reduce recidivism among individuals under probation, parole, or postrelease supervision.” While no probation department in the state has fully implemented evidence-based practices in all facets of supervision, all counties report expanded use of some EBP elements, including application of actuarial risk and needs assessments, increased collaboration among local justice system partners, more effective supervision of offenders, more effective treatment programs for offenders, and more effective management practices.


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