Probation and Parole
Positivists on the other hand hold the view that offenders are forced to commit criminal acts against their will and hence it is appropriate to deal with the conditions that forced them to commit the acts. The powers of selected individuals such as the judiciary authority, prosecutor and the parole board determine whether probation and parole should be granted to an offender or not.
By viewing probation in historical terms, it is clear that it does not incorporate the process of incarceration. It has been used as a solution to the problem of overcrowding in jails and prisons. Hence, while the ultimate objective of a probation program rehabilitation procedure, the fact is that, probation is more of a need rather than an instruction. Consequently, several other programs have been implemented under the reason of community corrections that make use of conditional release elements leading to an increase in the types of probation programs (Siegel, 2008).
The efforts of John Augustus, a philanthropist, resulted to emergence of probation with the aim of rehabilitating the convicted offenders. However, references to probation practices were witnessed in an earlier period of 437-422 BC. During this period, probation was preferred due to the fact that it gave the judiciary an element of discretion regarding sentencing process. This in turn gave them a chance to impose sentences to some given offenders depending on the possibility of rehabilitating them. Though probation sentences are different in various jurisdictions globally, the maximal period of time that an offender can be under probation is five years (Abadinsky, 2008).
It is challenging to give definite functions of probations. It is however clear that during its inception by John Augustus, it was meant to aid in behavioral reformation, which is a key reflection of the sentencing role of granting probation. Through allowing an offender to return to the society or community, the criminal justice system can be viewed as giving that individual a second chance. Moreover, by getting adequate support from probation officers, the offender is led towards a law-abiding form of living (Siegel, 2008).
There is a significant difference in reality since currently probation is no longer reserved for non-violent and first-time offenders, who are less harmful to the community. There has been minimum confidence regarding the degree to which rehabilitation process is effective, hence there have been conflicting objectives on both the administrative and individual levels. There has been development of many alternatives to incarceration in the attempt to solve the problem of overcrowding in jails and prisons. A few of those programs allow offenders who have been incarcerated traditionally to return to the community, forcing supervision and control rather than rehabilitation (Abadinsky, 2008).
Parole is defined as an early release from jail or prison under certain conditions. The released offender has to be supervised after serving a given portion of sentence. The assumption held is that the offender demonstrated adherence to regulations and rules of the prison setting successfully and has the potential to adhere to the laws and norms of the community.
Historically, parole is derived from a French word meaning a word of honor. Initial documentation of early release of often violent and convicted offenders was in 1847 IN Boston by Samuel G. Howe. However, before then, many other programs that utilized pardon came up with the same results. Parole was a form of conditional pardon across various states as late as the year 1938.
Parole became more popular as a result of the Great Depression experienced in the United States in1929. Following the depression was a great rise in the number of offenders in jails and prisons. Parole became necessary due to the high costs associated with maintenance of prisons in addition to unavailability of personnel to staff the prisons and jails. However, the key goals of parole should be to maintain the correction system (Siegel, 2008).
The twentieth century was marked by a shift to positivism from classical form of thinking. Under positivism, there is a consistence to a form of sentencing that is less punitive and a sentencing structure that is indeterminate hence giving offenders an opportunity to be released early if they demonstrate a high degree of conformity to rules and regulations. During the 1980s, there were concerns regarding the failure of parole.
There was a marked increase in the rates of street crimes and these crimes were mostly initiated by individuals who had been paroled. The result of this was a return to a form of sentencing structure that is more punitive. By the year 2001, a total of 15 states as well as the federal government had abolished parole programs with the aim of finding out the most appropriate form of punishment (Abadinsky, 2008).
There are some strategic trends is probation and parole, which emerge as a result of forces and pressure from the outer environment. One of the trends is that of partnership and collaboration whereby agencies of parole and probation are gradually realizing that they can not work solely and require the skills and expertise of other people. Currently, these collaborations are more formal compared to the past decade. The collaborations entail sharing commodities such as information, time and resources, political and decision-making authority. An example of such formal collaborations is the partnership between treatment courts and drug courts (Siegel, 2008).
One of the implications is that though such collaboration may appear to be a smart and easy undertaking, there is the need for transformational and changes for those participating in the partnerships. There should be discussion and revisions concerning the duties responsibilities and roles of the participants in accordance with the novel approach. The other implication is that it can be difficult and challenging to share decision-making powers and resources when it comes to traditional bureaucracy (Abadinsky, 2008).
Specialization is the other trend whereby the increasing complexity of the societal problems is accompanied by an increase in probation and parole. Currently cases range from juvenile and adult offenders who are mentally ill, addicts, drunk drivers, sexual offenders, violent offenders, gang members and many other offenders. Due to the rising cases of offenders with special needs, agencies for probation and parole started to provide specialized services.
Initially, this implied, grouping the like offenders together and training the staff involved. However as a result of increase in knowledge about the cases, there was change in the type and nature of supervision accorded. Supervision mainly focused on the populations special needs. Officers started consulting with treatment providers and experts from several other agencies. Finally, agencies for probation and parole started forming formal collaborations with other agencies in order to give a more understandable form of supervision to the offenders (Siegel, 2008).
The implication of specialization is that it most of the times need extra resources to cover for specialized training, hiring of experts to provide direct services and purchasing of treatment services. Specialization results to specific problems for small departments which lack adequate numbers of staff to specialize and very few cases to support specialization (Siegel, 2008).
The other trend is that of technology whereby there is the use of chemical and electronic technologies to aid in monitoring offender behavior and detecting offences. However, the widely known form of technology is the electronic technology which may include satellite systems for global positioning, comprising of voice confirmation systems and the popular ankle bracelets. There is also the use of products for detecting drugs in saliva, urine and hair. Detection of alcohol can be done using a breathalyzer that is held in hands. A similar technology is used in ignition interlocks to deter an individual who is intoxicated from starting a car (Abadinsky, 2008).
There is also the availability of software applicable to sexual offenders whereby they are monitored on their use of computers and report given to parole and probation officers concerning the websites visited by the offenders. To monitor, the sex offenders truthfulness, the polygraph is used most of the times. Technological advances have made it possible and easier to share information between agencies and various state jurisdictions (Abadinsky, 2008).
The implication is that increase in technological advancement and reduction in costs makes probation and parole attractive and affordable. The challenge however lies in the response of the criminal justice system to the marked increase in the ability to identify unlawful behavior. Additional violations will confront officers considering the fact that there are additional eyes and ears watching offenders (Abadinsky, 2008).
Though it might seem quite easy to form partnership and collaborations between probation and parole agencies and other agencies, it is recommendable to make changes regarding the collaboration participants and their roles. It is also recommendable to make statutory changes to enable sharing of information especially in the case of juvenile offenders.
There other recommendation is that of implementing a management team that is result-driven as this will enable the production of better information about both the negative and positive aspects regarding the probation and parole agencies performance. The information would force the abolition of programs that are performing poorly and support of programs performing better.
The key objective of probation and parole is to prevent crime and make sure that the safety of the community and citizens is enhanced. The effectiveness of the probation and parole agencies has great implications in the entire criminal justice system as well as the entire society and community.
Abadinsky, H. (2008). Probation and Parole. Theory and Practice (10th Ed). Pearson Prentice Hall
Siegel, L. J. (2008). Essentials of the Criminal Justice (6th Ed). Cengage Learning
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