Parole and Probation Jessica A. Taylor University of Phoenix CJA 313 Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice August 8, 2010 Henry Provencher The criminal justice system in America is very complex. It has many parts that must work together in order for it to be effective. The criminal justice system relies on politicians to create laws, judges to interpret laws, and police officials to enforce the laws. However, our system would not be as effective, if not for the vigilant efforts of other agencies and groups.
Although often overlooked by the public the parole and probation programs in America are important components of the American criminal justice system. These programs must continue to evolve to ensure the current and future effectiveness of our criminal justice system. The parole and probation program was designed to help give a second chance to people who have made criminal mistakes, while still safeguarding the community. The parole and probation program recognizes that some people have the ability to be rehabilitated and become productive members of their communities.Order now
Americans do not want their countrymen held in jail unnecessarily and these two programs help ensure that only people who deserve to be in jail are held. The probation program in America highlights the belief that incarceration is not America’s first choice, when dealing with criminal behavior. This ideology is the basis of all the recommendations and solutions made in this report. The goal of this analysis is to increase awareness of the parole and probation programs and to initiate changes that will help maintain the effectiveness of these programs.
I have been tasked by the Michigan state attorney general to write an analysis and create a way to improve the parole and probation programs. The recommendations in this report will be implemented and tested in Detroit, MI. The Governor of Michigan has promised to support full state-wide implementations of the recommendations if they are successful. This report will begin by presenting an historical and current synopsis of the parole and probation programs. Next, the report will cover some aspects of the administration of parole and probation programs.
Then the report will give a depiction of some of the problems facing these programs. Finally, the recommendations and conclusion will be given. Parole It is a common misconception that parole and probation are the same entity. Community supervision is the chief component in both parole and probation; however there is one huge difference between the two. In order to be paroled, a person must first be incarcerated. Conversely, probation is used by judges as an alternative to incarceration (Mackenzie, 2002). When granted parole an inmate is conditionally released from incarceration.
Parolees’ are expected to comply with the terms of release; failure to do so can result in the parolee being returned to incarceration (parole violation). The concept of parole in the United States of America was introduced by Zebulon Brockway around 1876. Mr. Brockway championed the idea of indiscriminate sentences and parole release from prison. Indiscriminate sentences or the “Irish system” allowed for prisoners to earn their way from prison to conditional release back into mainstream society, essentially paroled.
The initiative was successful and by 1944 the entire United States of America had adapted some form of indiscriminate sentences and parole for prisoners (Mackenzie, 2002). Through the years, Mr. Brockway’s ideas have come under intense scrutiny and some states have adopted more discriminate sentencing. Mr. Brockway’s ideas are still the basis for the parole system in the United States of America today. The most disputed argument with regard to parole is not whether or not it is needed, but rather how should it be instituted? What criteria should be used to judge a prisoner’s worthiness for a sentence remittance?
How can we effectively managed the parole system, when according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are 828,169 parolees in the United States? The problems with our parole system must be addressed, but how can we hope to succeed with limited financial and human resources? I believe it can be accomplished by leaning on technology, highly trained professionals, outstanding leadership/management and visionary/innovative thinking. Probation The simplest definition of the word probation is “the act of testing” (Farley, 2010 ).
The American criminal justice system uses probation as an alternative to incarceration for low risk offenders. The concept of probation can be traced back to England. In the 14th century English Courts were permitted to place low risk offenders in the care of respectable citizens. The citizens would have to pledge to the courts that the offender would conduct themselves in an appropriate manner while in their care (Mackenzie, 2002). In the United States of America judges used direct sentences when adjudicating offenders until a man named John Augustus from Boston, Massachusetts became fed up.
Tired of seeing petty criminal sentenced to harsh prison sentences, Mr. Augustus begin bailing out selected offenders. He chose those who he thought had redeemable characteristics. Mr. Augustus would then helped the offenders clean up their lives and get them on the road to becoming good citizens again. Mr. Augustus would also lobby the judges on behalf of the offenders for reduced sentences and the judges would concur. Mr. Augustus is also known as the Father of American Probation because his efforts would eventually lead to some form of a probation system being adopted by all the States in the Union (Mackenzie, 2002).
On March 5, 1925, President Coolidge signed the National Probation Act, which established the US Federal Probation Service. This was followed by the Interstate Compact for the Supervision of Parolees and Probationers, which is a vital component of the parole and probation process. This legislative agreement says that all states that ratify the agreement will supervise people on parole and probation that reside in other jurisdictions than the State they are on parole or probation from. By 1959 every state had ratified the Interstate Compact for Supervision of Parolees and Probationers and had a working probation system.
Probation is often given to Americans who have committed a small offense or a low grade felony. A person will not be offered probation for serious offenses against his or her community, which include but are not limited to: murder, rape, grand larceny, and assault with deadly weapon, and treason. Today there are over 4. 2 Americans currently on probation (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010). Administration of Parole and Probation Parole: The specific procedures for being granted parole vary from state to state, but generally the process includes the following key players:
Pre-trial Service Investigators, Correctional treatment specialists, parole board, and parole officers. Pre-trial Service Investigators (PSI): The basic responsibility of the PSI is to gather background information on suspects. The information they collect plays a critical role in determining bail, type of supervision required (GPS tracking devices, home detention), while awaiting/on trial (Bureau of Labor Statistics , 2009). The reports created by the PSI play an even more critical role in the probation process because their reports will be used as the basis for setting the terms and conditions of probation.
Correctional Treatment Specialist (CTS): A CTS working in a prison has many important responsibilities and is a vital component of the parole process. They are responsible for monitoring the progress of inmates, make case reports, develop treatment plans for inmates once they leave prison as well as various other duties (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009). The CTS also makes an evaluation about the likelihood of the inmate committing another crime, which is part of the case report. The parole board leans heavily on the work of the CTS when making a decision on whether or not to grant parole to an inmate.
A CTS working outside of a prison performs many of the same duties as their prison counterparts (Bureau of Labor Statistic). Parole Board: Each state constructs it parole board differently, but their overall mission and responsibilities are similar. The Parole Board has been granted the authority by their state to decide which prisoners are paroled and the terms and conditions of parole for each inmate. Parole Officer: The Parole Officer generally works for the state and has a B. S in Social Science. They are responsible for monitoring the behavior of the parolee.
This can include visit to the parolee’s house, job, or neighborhood hangouts. Parole officers monitor the parolee’s compliance with the terms of their parole (Probation officers, careers, jobs and training information, 2010). Typically, parole officers work 40 hours and have a median salary range of $36,000 – 60,000 dollars annually. Parole officers generally handle between 20-100 parolee’s (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009). Probation: Procedures for being granted probation vary from state to state, but generally the process includes the following key players: Pre-trial Service Investigators, Judges, and Probation officers.
Pre-Trial Service Investigators: PSI employees gather background information on the defendant to include but not limited to the following: conducting interviews, reviewing previous convictions, and visiting the home. Judges: Judges make final decisions about the length and terms of probation. As a result they rely heavily on the PSI to get them information by certain deadlines. A judge can also impose stricter terms for the probationer if they believe it is warranted. Probation Officers: Probation Officers perform many of the same tasks that parole officers do, and typically have B.
S in Social Sciences as well. The main difference between probation officers and parole officers is that probation offers supervise people not recently released from incarceration. Probation officers normally supervise adherence to the terms of probation for either adults or juveniles. They also have the same median salary range as parole officers. The parole and probations programs in America are quite successful; however just like any other system improvements must be made to keep the programs successful.
It is my opinion that biggest issues threatening the long term success of the parole and probation programs are the following: Overworked probation and parole officials, high number of parole and probation violations and lack of job opportunities for people on parole and probation. Probation and parole officers working in urban areas are often overworked. These officers are typically responsible for monitoring 20-100 individuals cases and often do not have enough time to supervise people properly on probation and parole.
Further, many of the offenders live in high crime neighborhoods and represent a significant threat to parole and probation officers. Often the officers have to carry weapons to protect themselves (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009). Pre-Trial Investigators have to meet court deadlines and with the estimated number of people on probation in America at 4. 2 million the job can be overwhelming. Last, because of time restraints it is extremely difficult for a parole or probation officers to help the offender successfully complete the rehabilitation plans.
Many offenders go back to prison for violating technical aspects of probation. Both parole and probation programs were designed to allow offenders to become positive members of the community. At a minimum the programs were designed to get offenders not to commit crimes anymore. Violating someone’s parole or probation for technical violations is not in keeping with the spirit of the parole and probation programs. Money makes the world go round! In today’s economy it has become increasing difficult for people to obtain a decent paying job, especially if they have a criminal record.
Often offenders will go back to committing crimes because they simply need the money. In order to make parole and probation successful there has to be decent jobs available. Recommendations Increase the number of probation and parole officers: This will allow officers to increase the amount of time with offenders, which will aid in creating a more effective probation and parole system Specialized individual comprehensive rehabilitation programs: Often parole and probation simply just do not have time to create an individual rehabilitation programs for offenders.
This process can be streamlined by having a specialized team create rehabilitation plans. This would reduce the workload of officers and increase the effectiveness of the parole and probation systems. Eliminate automatic prison terms for technical violations: Simply putting offenders back in prison for technical violations of parole or probation defeats the purpose of the system. Offenders are going to make mistakes; however if they are not committing new crimes and are showing improvement there is no real need to put them back in prison.
This recommendation would reduce the number of probation and parole violations. Offer government incentives for hiring offenders: Government incentives for hiring offenders would make more jobs available and decrease the risk that an offender will commit a new crime in order to make money. The parole and probation programs are truly indicative of our society’s belief in giving second chances. The goal of these programs is to correct behaviors of people who gone wayward in their communities. In order to make these programs effective in the short and long runs, we must constantly strive to improve the system.
The recommendations made in this report are designed to help over five million Americans that are either on parole or probation. We want these Americans to make positive contributions to the United States of America and in order to do so we must reform the parole and probation systems in America. These recommendations are designed to do that! Works Cited Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2010, August 08). Retrieved 03 August, 2010, from Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://bjs. ojp. usdoj. gov/index. cfm? y=tp&tid=15 Bureau of Labor Statistics . (2009, December 17). Retrieved August 03, 2010, from United States Department of Labor: http://www. bls. gov/oco/ocos265. htm Farley. (2010 , January 31). Retrieved August 04, 2010, from The Free Dictionary: http://www. thefreedictionary. com Mackenzie, D. L. (2002, Decemhtmlber 01). Probation and Parole: History, Goals , and Decision-Making. Retrieved August 03, 2010, from Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice: www. encyclopedia. com/doc/1G2-3403000205. html Nolan, P. (2010, August 05). Prison Fellowship.
Retrieved August 06, 2010, from Justice Fellowship: http://www. justicefellowship. org/component/content/article/109-backlinks/856-reforming-probation-and-parole-will-cut-crime-and-lower-prison-costs Probation officers, careers, jobs and training information. (2010, January 01). Retrieved August 03, 2010, from Career overview: http://www. careeroverview. com/probation-office-careers. html ——————————————– . All recommendations are based off article dutifully cited as . Information about this citation can be found in the bibliography.