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81 Fed. Probation 41 (2017)
Fugitives from Justice: An Examination of Felony and Misdemeanor Probation Absconders in a Large Jurisdiction

handle is hein.journals/fedpro81 and id is 43 raw text is: 
June 2017

                                                         Kelli Stevens-Martin
Tarrant  County Community Supervision and Corrections Department

                                                                   Jialiang  Liu
                         University   of North  Texas  Health   Science  Center

PROBATION IS THE most widely used
alternative to incarceration (Phelps, 2013);
therefore, the majority of the responsibility of
monitoring  criminal offenders in the commu-
nity falls on probation officials. One of many
concerns  for probation officers is offenders
who  abscond from supervision-that is, avoid
contact with  correctional supervisory agen-
cies. According to the state oversight agency
for community  supervision in Texas, the term
absconder(s) is defined as:

      persons who  are known to have left
   the jurisdiction without authorization
   or who  have not personally contacted
   their community   supervision  officer
   within three months  or 90  days, and
   either: (a) have an active Motion  to
   Revoke  (MTR) or Motion to Adjudicate
   (MTA)   filed and an unserved  capias
   for his or her arrest; or (b) have been
   arrested on  an  MTR   or  MTA,  but
   have failed to appear for the MTR  or
   the MTA   hearing and bond  forfeiture
   warrant has been  issued by the court.
   (TDCJ-CJAD   Standards, 2015, p. 25)

   Absconders   pose a  potential threat to
community   safety because their behaviors,
including drug  and  alcohol abuse, cannot
be monitored  by the courts. It is unknown
what types of criminal activities they engage
in unless otherwise apprehended  for a new

crime, and  generally absconders are located
by  accident (Parent et al., 1994), through a
random   traffic stop where law enforcement
officers discover there is an active warrant for
the person's arrest.
    Findings from an earlier research project
 in the jurisdiction pertaining to felony techni-
 cal probation revocations were the impetus
 for this current study, and revealed that 51
 percent of revoked felony technical offenders
 were absconders  (Stevens-Martin, Oyewole,
 & Hipolito, 2014). After comparing a sample
 of 359 revoked  felony technical offenders
 to a sample of  359 felons who  completed
 supervision successfully, Stevens et al. found
 that outcomes revealed no significant asso-
 ciations between absconding supervision and
 race, gender, marital status, employment,
 income  level, prior criminal record, prior
 supervision, prior revocations, or age at first
 arrest (Stevens-Martin et al., 2014, p. 19).
 Furthermore, it was hypothesized that those
 with substance use/abuse  issues would be
 more likely to abscond than those without
 these issues for fear of going to jail; however,
 this was not the case. Those with substance
 use/abuse issues were 59 percent less likely
 to abscond than those with no substance/use
 issues, and those identified with mental health
 issues were 56 percent less likely to abscond
 than those without  mental  health issues
 (Stevens-Martin et al., 2014, p. 19). Last, the
previous study in the jurisdiction found that

employed  felony offenders are 10 times more
likely to complete  supervision successfully,
Further exploration of the absconder popula-
tion in the jurisdiction was warranted.
    A dearth of literature exists pertaining to
 adult probation absconders and we could not
 find any research pertaining to adult misde-
 meanor  probation  absconders. There  have
 been very few research studies on absconders
 since the late 1990s and early 2000s. These
 earlier studies focused on examining factors
 associated with felony absconders, including
 criminal history variables and predicting and
 locating probation (Taxman &  Byrne, 1994)
 and parole absconders (Williams, McShane &
 Dolny, 2000), mainly felony offenders. Some
 studies posited that the increased punitive-
 ness of the criminal justice system at that
 time may have led to an increase in probation
 absconders (Byrne, Lurigio, & Baird, 1989;
 Byrne & Pattavina, 1993; Clear & Cole, 1990).
 Schwaner (1997) analyzed a group of parole
 absconders in Ohio and found that the coin-
 mon predictive variables for absconding were
 mainly criminal history factors such as prior
 adult and juvenile arrests and convictions and
 probation and parole supervision revocations.
   Following  Schwaner's lead, Williams  et
al. (2000) examined  the issue of predicting
parole absconders in California. They wanted
to determine if there were any significant dif-
ferences in results based on geographic area
of study and to create a prediction instrument


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