Unit 2 Writing Assignment
Kaplan College, Bakersfield
February 24, 2015
Probation over the past decade has become the sentence that is ruled more than any other. With prisons being over crowded, probation has been the top choice for qualifying adult violent offenders. Probation population has become almost twice the population of offenders in prison. Today, probation is authorized in all states and is an integral part of the criminal justice system. Probation is a prison sentence that is suspended on the condition that the offender follow certain prescribed rules and commit no further crimes. Probation is known as an alternative sentence for offenders that don’t necessarily need to be incarcerated.
It all began in the 1840s when the “Father” of probation John Augustus, decided he wanted to help a drunk and asked the judge to release the offender into his custody. Augustus believed that not all offenders needed to be incarcerated, and he continued to take offenders into his custody. Augustus believed that the guiding philosophy of probation was rehabilitation, he stated "It became pretty generally known that my labors were upon the ground of reform, that I confined my efforts mainly to those who were indicted for their first offence, and whose heart were no wholly depraved, but gave promise of better things. . .” (Mackenzie, 2002) As probation continues to evolve the original vision still remains. John Augustus's probation bears much resemblance to probation as it is practiced today. Probation today and back then aren’t necessarily different but has definitely improved. After the death of Augustus, his success began to be known. Probation was officially recognized in 1878 when Massachusetts passed the first probation statute for juveniles. However, not until 1901, did New York pass the first statute authorizing the use of probation for adult felons. By 1927 all states except Wyoming had accepted some form of probation for all juveniles but not until 1956 did all states in the US approve probation for all adult offenders. Up until the 1960s probation efforts focused on the offender versus the offense. In the 1970s, the assumption of rehabilitation was questioned, critics complained that rehabilitative programs were unethical and immoral. So by the 1990s, felons began to be released from prison early and place on probation case loads. A study revealed that 65 percent of the sample were rearrested and 51 percent were convicted of new crimes during a 40 month follow up period. Today, probation is a more defined form of punishment. Probation is now federal, state, and local alternative whereas when probation began, it was just “a service to the judiciary and an arm of the court” (Seiter, 2014, p.100). In the United States probation is administrated by hundreds of independent agencies operating under different state laws. Probation services are organized into six basic administrative categories: juvenile, municipal, county, state, state combined, and federal. Some analysts contend that court-administered probation is more responsive to judicial guidelines, provides better feedback, ensures that judges have better knowledge of the resources required, and allows probation staff more discretion and a higher resource priority. Based on my current research, the effectiveness of probation varies from case to case. According to a study in 2010, 65 percent of offenders were successful, 16 percent had unsatisfactory exits, and 16 percent were incarcerated. In my opinion, probation is an appropriate alternative for first-time offenders, non-career criminals, and young offenders. Ultimately, the successful completion of probation is up to the criminal. Some offenders choose to benefit from probation by following all guidelines and completing programs while they are not incarcerated. Others offenders choose to take advantage of not being...
References: Mackenzie, D. L. (2002). Encyclopedia.com: Find Probation and Parole: History, Goals, and Decision-Making research. Retrieved February 23, 2015, from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3403000205.html
Seiter, R. P. (2014). Probation and Intermediate Sanctions, In Corrections an Introduction
(4th ed., pp. 99-126). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
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