Offender Theories

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Probation Parole And Community Corrections

Changes to probation and parole and Community Corrections system

As the 20th century ends, probation as a correctional practice is in search of a philosophical and ideological foundation. There is a growing awareness both within and without the field that probation is not all that it could or should be. Administrators and practitioners sense that their profession faces a crisis of legitimacy and suffers from a lack of public support.

A number of agencies and associations have been turning their attention to meeting the challenges posed to traditional probation by the altered political and economic environment. Years of searching for alternatives to imprisonment has left probation in a free-floating state. Divorced from its traditional roots and wandering in the desert of intermediate sanctions, it has been unable to do more than adapt to current political and bureaucratic whims. 1

This situation is changing. Administrators, academics and practitioners are becoming involved in debate, dialogue and discussion about the future of probation and its sister, parole.

Community corrections are a vital part of the justice system. It provides sanctions and services to enhance public safety while it maintains offenders within the community. In administering sanctions and services, the community, victims, and offenders benefit. My goal is to develop professional staff, hold offenders accountable, repairs the harm done to victims and the community, supervises and treats offenders, which often involves citizens, and maintains positive ties between the community and the offender.

Community corrections centers and community work centers in time could be receiving offenders sentenced directly to them by the courts. If this process occurs it will enhance partnerships between the community and the department as we develop avenues to ensure that offenders receive treatment and supervision not only assessed by us but also desired by the sentencing entity.

I will provide an alternative to incarceration for persons convicted of alcohol or other drug related charges as well as for persons whose substance use was a factor in the commission of a crime (e.g. crime was committed while under the influence or to maintain drug use).

Challenges To The Probation And Parole System In The New Millennium

As probation and parole officers take on larger and more dangerous caseloads, they must take the necessary steps to ensure their personal safety. This includes learning how to predict offender violence and pushing for better caseload management among agencies.

An essential duty of judges in making probation and parole decisions is evaluating offenders' potential threat to public safety. In the past, judges reserved probation primarily for non-violent offenders, but because of prison crowding they recently have been forced to grant probation more liberally.

As we end this century and face the next, it is apparent that probation is at a crossroad. If we ignore our problems, it will lead to the eclipse of current probation by law enforcement. Also, the continued trend to sanction specific options will have a major impact and lead to the breakup of probation agencies, either through privatization or mergers with other correctional entities. But the other choice, informed by what is happening in the community justice and restorative justice efforts, and by taking public safety seriously, could lead to renewed, reinvented probation for the 21st century.

The vitality of probation requires that we all engage in a dialogue that leads to a strong commitment on the part of governments to reinvest in probation as an instrument of public safety that has the support and confidence of the public it serves. 2

Because of the growing number of violent offenders being placed on intensive supervision programs, it is becoming increasingly important for probation and parole...
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