Free Probation Research Paper Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Probation, Victimology, Law, Criminal Justice, Court, Teenagers, Jail, Prison

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/31

Probation is a form of a legal system that is used to correct minor offenders, instead of sending them to prison or jail (Abaninsky 5). The court system of various states has different regulations that specify when an offender is supposed to be put under probation and when they should be sent to jail (GOV.UK 1). When the court system puts a person under probation, the person is allowed to interact with the community, but has to report to a correctional facility (Shearer 33). Shearer points out that when a person is put under the supervision of a correctional officer, they are supposed to report to the officer regularly (33). Depending on the type of the offence, during probation, the offender may be required to do some community services, undergo counseling, pay some fines, adhere to some restrictions on drugs, or avoid weapons (Shearer 33).
McWilliams and Pease highlight two forms of probations; a jail term and then probation, and probation instead of jail term (15). When the offender serves a jail term, the period of probation is normally shortened. In the other case, when the offender completes their probation successful, they are pardoned from going to jail. There are some cases where offenders may prefer to serve a jail term (which is usually shorter) than to go into probation for a long time. Breaking the terms of the probation is an offense that automatically leads to a jail term (GOV.UK 4).
The law of probation is officially known to have begun when a Boston Cobbler called John Augustus and volunteered to bail out minor offenders from being held in court when they could not afford the fines imposed by the courts (Diana 189). According to Diana, Augustus was a strong campaigner against alcoholism (189). To convince men to abstain from alcoholism and minor offences, he offered to pay their court fines on the promise that they would stop alcoholism (Diana 189). However, the law of probation existed long before Augustus, albeit without proper legal provisions (Diana 189). According to Diana, the probation law came into practice in the early nineteenth century (189). During this time, there were no statutory provisions that governed the law of probation (McWilliams and Pease 14). Probation was offered to offenders to give them a chance to rehabilitate and reduce their possible sentence. Since that time, this law has undergone numerous modifications. Initially, probation officers were required to offer moral leadership to the offenders (McWilliams and Pease 15). The probation officers were required to help the offenders to change their moral values with respect to work, family, religion, and cultures. The development in field of psychology led to more emphasis on the counseling roles of the probation officers (Diana 190).This shift in mentality made probation officer to be more of a social worker than a supervisor or a moral leader. The officer was hence required to be actively involved in the rehabilitation process of the offender.
As a social worker, the probation officer was required to assist the offender in terms of securing employment, education, and housing. Probation officers were thus actively involved in addressing the sources of the social ills, such as poverty. In modern times, the role of probation officer also involves risk management. The probation officer is required to ensure the risk of the offender committing a crime in future is minimized.
Probation law started spreading in United States in the early twentieth century. It became popular in juvenile courts, and by 1910, more than 37 states in United States had started practicing the probation law in juvenile courts(McWilliams and Pease 14). Before the onset of probation, severe punishments were handed to offenders even with minor offences. Punishments included flogging, mutilation, and execution (McWilliams and Pease 14). McWilliams and Pease point out that many people were getting discontented by the use of harsh punishments for minor offenders (14). This discontentment led to the revolution of the justice system to afford less severe punishments to minor offenders. The spread of probation law in adult courts was slower.
It is around the middle of the twentieth century that people started advocating for probation in adult courts for minor offenders. The rapid growth in number of probation correction officers in the middle of the twentieth century is a testament to the rapid growth in popularity of the probation law. From 1907 to 1937, the number of probation correctional officers had grown from a mere 795 volunteers to more than 3,800 salaried officers (Diana). Since then, the number of registered probation correctional officers has experienced a constant growth. In the year 2010, the number of registered correctional officers was estimated to be over 100,000. This number is expected to grow to more than 120,000 by 2018 (Gelzinis 3).
The concept of probation and suspended sentence can both be traced back to the biblical right of sanctuary (Whitehead, Dodson and Edwards 91).According to Whitehead, Dodson and Edwards,the right of sanctuary is clearly stated in the Mosaic laws in the Bible (91). Traditionally, offenders used to seek asylum in the sanctuary to avoid vengeance from the people they offended. It was common in the times of Moses for killers to hide in sanctuary to avoid the wrath of the victim’s family (Whitehead, Dodson and Edwards). This Mosaic tradition was carried into the middle ages where many churches used to offer hiding places for people running from offensive rule.The right of sanctuary was replaced by the benefit of clergy in the seventeenth century England (Whitehead, Dodson and Edwards 92). In order to gain the benefit of the clergy, the asylum seeker was required to recite Psalm 51. Psalms 51 begins with the following words; “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love” (New International Version, Psa. 51.1).This verse was popularly known as the “neck verse” since it saved the offenders from the hangman’s noose (Whitehead, Dodson and Edwards 92).The neck verse led to the creation of the suspended sentence that allowed offenders to be part of the society until their death.
Although some authors use probation and suspended sentence to mean the same, the two terms have different legal implications. In the case of a suspended sentence the offender is free from supervision or monitoring (Whitehead, Dodson and Edwards 100). However, the suspended sentence can be revoked by the court and the offender charged.
Whitehead, Dodson and Edwards argue that, probation is an interlinking process that allows the community, the court, and the probation correctional officer to participate in the correction of the minor offenders. The involvement of all stakeholders in correction of the offender has led to improvement of the justice system. The use of probation has also reduced the burden of accommodating a large number of prisoners in prisons. These benefits of probation over jail term have seen many states adopt the practice. In United States, probation is conducted by numerous organizations with sets of structures. Different correctional institutions serve varied types of offenders. Some correctional facilities may serve juvenile cases, while others serve adult cases. In other cases, correctional facilities are categorized according to severity of the offences. For instance, some facilities may be limited to offer correctional services to felony offenders, while others facilities correct those guilty of misdemeanor.
In United States, more than 4 million offenders are subjected to probation correctional services on a daily basis (Whitehead, Dodson and Edwards 145). African Americans form the majority of offenders on probation in correction facilities. Latino and Hispanic form the second largest group of minor offenders in United States (Whitehead, Dodson and Edwards).
Allowing the minor offenders to live with the community while they serve their probation offers has many benefits to them, as well as to the community. For instance, offenders remain productive during their probation. The use of probation also helps to mitigate minor offences in the society. Despite these benefits of probation, some people have criticized the use of probation for allowing the offenders to “get away with it”. Whitehead, Dodson and Edwards are keen to dispute this notion of probation as “getting away with it”. An interaction with “experienced probationers” shows that most of them prefer jail term to the rigorous demands of probation. Therefore, probation is punitive as well as correctional. The outcomes of probation can be enhanced through improved support of offenders , such as empowering the probation officers with more skills.

Work Cited

Abaninsky, H. Probation and parole theory and practice. Pearson: Prentice Hall, 2012. Print.
Diana, L. "What is probation." J. Crim. L. Criminology & Police Sci. , 51 (1960): 189.
Gelzinis, P. "Probation still has has long way to go." Boston Herald, 22 April 2011.Web.25 March 2015.
GOV.UK. "Probation.". Government of UK, 12 November 2014. Web. 25 March 2015
McWilliams, W and K Pease. "Probation practice and an end to punishment." The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 29(1) (1990): 14-24.
New International Version (NIV). Miami: Biblica, 2014. Print.
Shearer, R A. "Probation strategies of juvenile and adult pre-service trainees." Fed. Probation,66 (2002): 33-37.
Whitehead, J T, K D Dodson and B D Edwards. Corrections: Exploring crime, punishment, and justice in America.London: Routledge, 2012.Print.

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