Probation can be dated as far back as the middle ages of English Criminal Law. Probation started as harsh punishments on children and adults that may have not been such a serious crime if any at all. The English used such sentencing as flogging, branding, mutilation, and execution. The harshness of these punishments eventually slowed down because sections of the English society were concerned with the effects on the evolution of the justice system.
Matthew Davenport Hill, and 18th Century English Judge and John Augustus, a 19th Century boot maker was associated with the development of probation. Hill had witnessed the sentencing of minor offenders to serve a one day term under the serious obligation that he or she be returned to a parent of a guardian figure the could supervise the offender. When Hill became the Recorder of Birmingham he decided to use a similar practice for those individuals who did not seem so corrupt. If an offender promised they would rehabilitate, Hill would place them in the care of a willing guardian to take charge of the offender. Hill also had police officers volunteering periodic visits to the chosen guardians to keep track of the offender and his/her progress since the criminal act.
John Augustus is known as "the Father of Probation." Augustus is recognized as the first true probation officer. Augustus was a resident of Boston, Massachusetts and owned a boot making business. In 1841, Augustus bailed out a "common drunkard," which would become his first probationer. Three weeks later the "common drunkard" returned to court as a sober man thanks to the support and guidance from John Augustus. After that Augustus began an 18-year career volunteering as a probation officer. By 1858 Augustus had established bail for 1,946 men and women. After Augustus's death in 1859 a...