Type: Review
Pages: 5 | Words: 1202
Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Probation is not basically an act of mercy on the part of the judge. It is not first and foremost a personal relationship between the judge and the probationer, though these things are desirable features of probation (Bremner, 1971, p. 533). It is standard practice in America to include the subjects of probation, parole, imprisonment, and other treatment or punishment procedures in the field of academic teaching of criminology (Wolfgang and Ferracuti, 2003, p. 25). Probation departments in some states have attempted other probation innovations such as house arrest and electronic monitoring, where probationers are sentenced to remain at their own home, and their official engagement (Farmer, 2003, p. 225). It is treated as the most sensible method of correctional treatment of prisoners. Correctional treatment in the U.S. generally contains four essentials elements: community-based corrections, jails, prisons, and parole. Community-based correction programs include a vast array of varying programs including probation, counseling, public service programs, and halfway houses (Farmer, 2003, p. 225). The purpose of this study is to define and examine the process of probation in the penal system of the United States of America.

At year-end 2007, over 5.1 million adult men and women were supervised in the community, either on probation or parole. More than 8 in 10 were on probation (4,293,163), while less than 2 in 10 were on parole (826,097). Approximately 2,000 probation offices countrywide supervise over 2 million adult probationers, with over 1 million people sentence to some category of probation per annum. Approximately 55% of probation agencies are organized at the state level, responsible to the state’s executive branch and the remaining 45% are organized at the county or municipal level, responsible to the local courts. The U.S. federal prison census shows 20,686 men and women sentenced and incarcerated on June 30, 1970. Of those prisoners, 3,384 were convicted drug offenders, representing 16.3 percent of the total inmate population. On May 1, 1997, the weekly population report released by the Federal Bureau of Prisons lists 87, 471 sentenced individuals, with another 23, 126 awaiting sentencing, for a total population of 110,597. Of those sentenced, 52,611 were convicted drug offenders, representing 60.1 percent of the total population. The number of inmates convicted on drug charges and held in state prisons has skyrocketed in a similar fashion. The total number of prisoners in America has more than tripled since the growth of the drug war under the Reagan administration. In August 2006 there 1, 127,122 inmates in state prisons, which, combined with the estimated 500,000 in local jails and those in federal institutions, brings the total American prison population to more than 1.7 million. This does not include the more than 600,000 people on parole, 3,000,000 on probation, or more than 60,000 in juvenile facilities. Clearly, if the effectiveness of the war on drugs can be measured by attrition and sheer numbers, it has been enormously successful. We have locked up more Americans than at any time in our history (Fernandez, 1998, p.245).

Most striking was the augment in the amount of the correctional population. Between 1970 and 2003, state and federal prisons brew sevenfold to house 1.4 million convicted felons serving at least one year bars, and typically much longer (Western, 2007, p. 3). Instead, criminal offenders were assigned to community supervision under the charge of a probation officer (Western, 2007, p. 57). The institutional way of dealing with offenders including probation considers only the individual element in wrongdoing. Perhaps the most common form of Community-based corrections is probation, which normally involves some postponement of a harsher sentence in return for the promise of law-abiding behavior in the community (Farmer, 2003, p. 225). The probation system is really a new way of treating offenders who have engaged themselves as criminals (Bremner, 1971, p. 533). Some situations happened that after school suspension, juvenile hall, warnings from police, arrest, commitment to the adult courts, conviction, and probation, came the county jail and in the hand of executives (Western, 2007, p.12).

The probation provides a new kind of reformatory, without walls and without much of coercion, but nevertheless seeking to bring to bear upon each child the influences which will make for his betterment, and seeking to provide for him, so far as possible in his own home, opportunities and facilities for education and discipline, which we have heretofore provided only in an institution (Bremner, 1971, p. 533).  It is dreadfully true that until the second half of this century, America’s criminal justice institutions, like many other American institutions, were guilty of discrimination based on race. Fortunately, however, the justice system, like the rest of American society, has come a long way (Fernandez, 1998, p.245). It is an adage, that although an offender, child or adult, is brought into court for some particular act, the community is really dealing with him, not so much because of this particular act, but because of the long train of influences and factors, personal and social, which have exercised an unfavorable influence upon him(Bremner, 1971 p. 533). A probation system covering community-based correction is generally applied to offenders that are determined by the courts to be lower risk for a repeat offenses. Indeed, the repeat offender rate for those who are sentenced to community-based corrections is much lower than that for those who are sentenced to prison (Farmer, 2003, p. 225).

Generally, if the rules of probation are violated, then to serve the alternative, harsher sentence that had been suspended during the period of probation (Farmer, 2003, p. 225). Such alternatives may be part of a coherent system of graduated penalties of probation and parole in the American criminal justice system (Roberts and David, 2007, p. 27). Community-based corrections are also appreciably less expensive than jails or prisons, thus reducing overall costs, and the number of offenders countrywide would engulf the present prison capacity if community-based corrections were not available as an alternative (Farmer, 2003, p. 225). The form of supervision that a probationer accepts varies greatly depending on both the offense and the jurisdiction. Probation may entail as little as a once per month phone call to the probation officer, or it may include much more intensive contact with a varying array of correctional officials. These may consist of concentrated counseling and other types of treatment such as an essence maltreatment detoxification centers, frequent interviews with the probation officer, home visits by the probation officer, and contact between probation officers and schools or employers to determine if the probationer is making progress (Farmer, 2003, p. 225). Prison construction grew to be an instrument for regional development as small towns lobbied for correctional facilities and refused to accept the prisons enclosure connection. Prisons themselves altered as a consequence of the corrective turn in criminal justice. America is supposed to be an attractive country for such people who are interested to accept the opportunity of probation (National Conference on Social Welfare, 1902-2006, p.535). It is studied on the probation system on the basis of the Bureau of Justice Statistics Probation and Parole Statistics. As the court system now operates, an attempt is being made to be as nonpunitive as possible for “corrected” in America, two-thirds on probation and parole in the American Criminal Justice system (Waldron, 1980, p.37). 

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