Probation and parole are very important to our communities,victims, offenders, and society as a whole. So, what is probation and paroleand how does it help? This is a great question that often people wonder, but donot ask.

Take this into account that there is over 5 million people that arecurrently being supervised within the corrections system and about 70% aresupervised by probation and parole. Probation and parole are currently calledcommunity corrections which includes traditional probationand parole as well as other sanctions such as intensive supervision,restitution, community service, correctional boot camps, and fines (Admin, 2013).This community corrections have been used for over 30 yearsand has helped change the theoretical modelguiding the practice of community supervision. This helps make the goals of thecommunity important and for the offenders to integrate into the community. Formany victims’ probation and parole are very important to them because bothprobation and parole have obligations to ensure that victims rights are beenprovided. Victims are in many ways consideredclients of community correctionsagencies, because they are to be kept informed, and involved in receiving informationabout and access to community- and system-based services that can help them inthe aftermath of a crime. These victims are also helpful in provided useful informationthat can be critical to effective management and supervision ofdefendants/convicted offenders (Appa-Net, 2013).             However,within the community corrections offenders are giving the tools needs to becomesuccessful in the community.

Probation and parole help offenders obtainemployment and aiding the offender’s family. This method comes for a man namedJohn Augustus, which has been being used since the late 19 centuries.  After probation or parole time is up theoffenders return to court armed with sentencing recommendations or reducedsentencing. Due to his efforts John Augustus’s charges were typically sparedincarceration.

John Augustus’s probation is what is still practiced today withlittle change (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).            Toclearly understand probation and parole you need to know how this practice camearound. It started in the mid-19th century that many to all theoffenders were sentencing was either a flat ordeterminate sentencing into prison. By using this type of sentencing, anoffender received a specific amount of time to serve in prison for a specificcrime. However, this created major problems when prisons became overcrowded. Therefore,due to overcrowding there had to be mass pardons or random prison releases of offendersto have room for more. Therefore, something had to be done and therefore createdroom for change in the system.

            Changes were made to start creatinga parole system which was started by an Captain Alexander Maconochie, and laterimproved by Sir Walter Crofton. Maconochie wanted to use the idea that was usedin Norfolk Islands which was that criminals were transported to between one Englishcountry to another English country (Norfolk Island) which was considered”twice condemned”. Conditions were so bad on Norfolk Island that menwho received reprieves from the death penalty wept. Therefore, Maconochie removedthe flat sentencing structure and instead created a “mark system” (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).

The Mark System wasused for offenders to could earn freedom through hard work and good behavior withinthe correctional system. The earned marks could be used to purchase goods or usedto shorten their sentence. The prisoners that were chosen for the Mark System hadto pass through a series of stages beginning with strict imprisonment throughconditional release to final freedom (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).

 Sir Walter Crofton had a different idea whichhe believed the length of the sentence should not be based on a certain periodbut should be related to the rehabilitation of the offender. Crofton created asystem that incorporating three classes of penal servitude: strictimprisonment, indeterminate sentences, and tickets-of-leave (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002). In the last 19thcentury Zebulon Brockway, known for initiating indeterminate sentences andparole release in the United States. He had very similar ideas to Maconochieand Crofton, however Brockway believed inmates should be able to earn their wayout of prison through good behavior. Therefore, prisoners should receive asentence that could vary in length depending upon their behavior in prison. Thissystem can offer two advantages which are first provide a release valve formanaging prison populations. Second it would put value on reforming offendersbecause they would be earning release by demonstrating good behavior (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).

Brockway came up withthis idea of a probation and parole system when he was the superintendent ofElmira Reformatory. The inmates within the reformatory were graded on theirconduct, achievement, and education. Therefore, basis of their behavior in thereformatory they were given parole (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).

Making this theimportant concept which created the ground work for probation and parole in theUnited States. Brockway offered 3 concepts that were put into place (1) areduction in the sentence of incarceration based on good behavior in prison;(2) supervision of the parolee in the community; and (3) indeterminatesentences (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).Due to Brockway itcreated the probation and parole to what it is today however, with changes towhat is needed today instead of the 19th century. Today we are facedwith even more overcrowding than before. Causing increases to probation andparole populations. Increased rates of revocations have been attributed to manyfactors including: (1) the shift toward control-oriented practices of communitysupervision; (2) the law-enforcement background of new probation/paroleofficers (as opposed to the social work background of the past); (3) anincrease in the number of conditions of probation; (4) improvement in themethods of monitoring violations; (5) the more serious offender placed oncommunity supervision caseloads; and (6) an increase in probation and parolecaseloads (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).

Therefore, mostprobationers successfully completed their sentence without incident. In short,their study seemed to refute the assumption that due to early release anddiversion from prison, the probation population has become increasinglydangerous.However, recidivismrates for parolees are even higher than the rates of probationers. Beck andShipley (1989) examined the recidivism rates of 108,580 men and women who werereleased from jail in eleven states. More than 62% percent had been rearrestedfor a felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of release and 41% hadbeen returned to prison (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).Due to the increasingnumbers of offenders are having parole revoked during community supervision,many jurisdictions are reexamining their revocation procedures. Therefore, differentdevelopments had to be made to the probation and parole structure which includedecision-making, and consistent general trend in criminal justice.

The goal ofthe structure is to give officers concrete guidance so that their choicesbecome more certain and uniform without removing all discretion.  The new structure is incorporated into thedecision-making by written policy giving the goals of revocation and specifyingwhich violations are serious enough to result in revocation procedures.Behaviors that warrant alternative sanctions are also identified.

Thus,agencies make it clear to officers that violations are a routine part ofsupervision that can be responded to in a variety of ways (Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, 2002).In conclusion it isimportant to understand what, and where probation and parole comes from. Thisis an important step to help communities, victims, offenders, and society as awhole. It is important to see the functions of probation and parole.

To have asuccessful system in place you first must learn it and understand what thesystem is. Therefore, understanding the history, movements, and practices areimportant.  

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