What Is an ISF Offender?

By Thomas Charles
ISF offenders are parole violators sentenced to an Intermediate Sanction Facility.

handcuffs image by William Berry from Fotolia.com

An Intermediate Sanction Facility is a fully secured location intended for short-term stays. An ISF offender is either someone who has been ordered to an ISF for violating a term or condition of parole, or someone sentenced to an ISF based on criminal history or offense. Rather than send a parole violator back to state prison, the criminal is sentenced to an ISF, usually barracks-type facilities that can include job skills and lifestyle training. Texas is the largest user of ISFs. Private contractors operate most of the facilities.

Principles

According to the 2009 Texas Department of Criminal Justice's "Policy and Procedures for Community Supervision Placements" with state-contracted intermediate sanctions facilities, assessing an individual's risk to reoffend and his criminal behavior attributes are the most important treatment principles to consider when imposing sanctions. ISFs give courts an option to order various treatments for parole violators.

Types

In Texas, there are two main types of ISFs: community corrections facilities ISFs and state-contracted ISFs. Community corrections facilities are located in or near major population centers and provide the opportunity for some family ties and local support. These ISFs usually offer substance abuse treatment, cognitive and life skills programs, education and employment skills. State-contracted ISFs completely remove the offender from the community and provide substance abuse or cognitive treatment.

Considerations

State-contracted ISF programs are targeted at medium- and high-risk felons. An offender must be on community supervision for a felony offense. The offender has to be at least 18 years old, be assessed as medium or high risk or medium to high needs, and must be court-ordered to an ISF facility for a specific treatment track of 45 to 120 days.

Requirements

A Texas ISF offender has to meet certain minimum physical and educational requirements. If an offender cannot participate in a particular treatment track from beginning to end because of a medical condition, the offender is not eligible. If an offender needs alcohol or drug detoxification, the offender is not eligible. The offender has to have adequate English language proficiency to participate in treatment programs. Legal exclusions to ISF include a pending motion to revoke probation, pending criminal charges or detainers, immigration holds and child support detainers.

Benefits

For an ISF offender, a major benefit is that the person does not enter the general prison population. Former Oklahoma insurance commissioner Carroll Fisher was sentenced to six months in a work-release program at the Riverside Intermediate Sanction Facility in Tulsa followed by 4.5 years probation. For the 69-year-old grandfather, this is a much better outcome than the seven years in prison recommended by the prosecution. For the judge and the state, putting Fisher in ISF closed two other cases against him. He had already spent 14 months in prison on another charge.

About the Author

Austin resident Thomas Charles has written professionally for more than 30 years, first as a daily newspaper reporter, more recently online with SEO content, consumer and high tech marketing, public relations and grant campaigns. He holds a journalism and law degree from the University of Texas.