ASSIGNMENT ON PROBATION
Category : Criminal Justice System
UNIT 1- Discussion Board - Probation & the Courts
October 10, 2007
Discuss your views on the practice of allowing convicted offenders to serve all or part of their sentences in the community. Do you support this idea? Do you think it provides value in rehabilitating offenders? Why or why not? Please provide support for your views.
Allowing convicted offenders to serve all or part of their sentences in the community constitutes a valid rehabilitative program for offenders because of the benefits that community service offers in rehabilitating offenders to become important community members. However, community service has its limits to the extent of being effective only for non-violent offenders or offenders that can fit under rehabilitative or reparative justice through community service.
Community service deserves support because it serves a reparative and rehabilitative purpose. However, there is need to determine the harm committed by the offender to the community as basis for the type and length of community service ordered by the court as penalty. Matching harm with the mode of community services is important to achieve the purpose of reparative justice. (1991) provides that community service commenced in the US in 1966 when female offenders charged with traffic violations in California were penalization with mandatory participation in community programs. and (1997) explains that community service as a penalty developed as an alternative to incarceration with the burgeoning number of inmates in overcrowded prison facilities. Eventually, the acceptance of this alternative penalty spread to the different states so that non-violent offenders were given the opportunity to perform community service in exchange for their non-incarceration.
Community service provides value in rehabilitating offenders based on the number of benefits this offers. , and (2001) explain that community service allows the offender to gain a first hand perspective of the direct and indirect injuries brought about by the offense. Through this direct experience, the offender should be able to realize the importance of imposing limits on social tolerance. In addition, community service is intended to constitute constructive learning for the offender from the realization of the harm caused by the offense together with the development of self-worth from committing not to repeat the commission of the offense again. and (1997) add that the services of offenders also constitute valuable resource to community service delivery of the government and the advocacy and other services of non-government organizations.
In application, (1991) provides that community service provide value to rehabilitation by constituting a forum for accountability. This is because community service does not focus on the needs of offenders but on the strengths as contributors to society; lack of insightful perspective of the offender in committing the offense but on the ability of the offender to become responsible for the effects of the crime committed; and vulnerabilities to negative external influences of the offenders resulting to the crime and the potential of repeating the offense but on the capability of the offender to choose from committing or refraining from committing future crimes. When this happens, the alternative penalty of community service becomes rehabilitative and not merely restorative.
(1992) explain that community service also adds value by constituting a sanction that could bring about positive results by evoking a sense of responsibility on the part of offenders for the crime committed as well as minimize the burden on the prison system or evoke negative outcomes with an unreformed or deviant offender. Positive results occur when the community service imposed upon the offender involve actions and experiences that constitute a reparation of the harm caused to the community as well as evoke cognitive processes directed towards rehabilitation.
UNIT 1- Individual Project - Probation & the Courts
October 10, 2007
1. What is the purpose of a pre-sentence investigation report? A victim impact statement? What are some problems with these documents?
A pre-sentence investigation has a number of purposes emerging from its evolution. Traditionally, pre-sentence investigation reports provide judges with a comprehensive background on offenders as means of promoting individualized sentencing based on the perceived potential of the offender for rehabilitation as well as community re-integration. The pre-sentence investigation report then contains the summary of the offenses committed, extent of involvement in the crime, criminal history, and social history focusing on the familial relations, employment record, educational achievements, psychological health, financial condition, as well as other bases in determining the future prospects of the offender. Due to the shift in judgments from indeterminate to determinate sentencing, the pre-sentence investigation report became the basis of determining fixed sentences for offenders covering presumptive and guideline sentencing. Due to this change, pre-sentence investigation report includes descriptions of the culpability of the offender together with prior criminal records. This means that the pre-sentence investigation report used at present is no longer primarily concerned with the personal circumstances of the offender but only on the appropriate fixed penalty for the offense. (, 2002)
Problems with the pre-sentence investigation report includes the provision of support in fixing penalties for offenders but failure to support the rehabilitative value of the penalty fixed for the offense because of the lack of understanding of the personal circumstances of individual offenders. A pre-sentence investigation could become subjective or one-sided so that there is need to consider various sides and gather comprehensive information in order to provide valid support to justify the purpose of penalties in the justice system.
A victim impact statement contains the statements of the victims and the other people affected by the crime covered by the case on the extent of the impact of the crime to their physical, psychological and financial well-being. The victim impact statement assists judges in sentencing defendants. The report contains the details of the crime, background of the defendant, and criminal record of the offender. Moreover, the victim impact statement provides data important in supporting the court orders for restitution as well as the determining the reimbursement of the expenses incurred by victims due to the commission of the crime. (, 2003)
Problems with the victim impact statement cover the subjective nature of the information provided. The purpose of victims in giving the impact of the crime is not necessarily to achieve justice. Victims naturally have the tendency to be vengeful as reflected in the victim impact statement. This means that the usefulness of the document is supporting sentencing greatly relies on the role of judges in considering the statement of the victim with the personal background and record of the offender to determine a fair sentence that does not necessarily meet the penalty expected by the victims. Moreover, the extent of damage or loss reported by victims depends on their current state of mind so that the result depends upon the period when the report was made. Getting statements immediately after the crime would likely lead to greater impact when compared to statements taken sometime after the occurrence of the crime. Again, the role of the victim impact statement depends upon the diligent fulfillment of the judge of its role in ensuring justice through the sentences ordered.
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of probation being administered on a county level; on a state level?
The advantages and disadvantages of the probation administered in the state and county level revolves around the jurisdictional scope of the state and the county, with the state having a larger jurisdiction encompassing the county while the county has a smaller jurisdiction (, 2007). This situation offers advantages and disadvantages for county and state level probation.
In state level probation, the state has greater financial and logistics resources in managing probation for offenders charged at the state level. With greater operating resources, the people charged with administering probation have the resources to do so such as placing offenders in community services. The state has more options in selecting from the community service to be imposed on individual offenders in order to ensure the achievement of the purpose of the probation instead of imprisonment. However, state level probation relies on probation officers organized more on the county level for the enforcement of the probation. This means the while the state has more financial resources it has a lesser- organized probation officers working across the state. With regard to the county level probation, probation officers are mostly organized and operate on a county level. This ensures the better administration of probation due to cooperative or coordinated enforcement of the court’s orders. However, the limit of the scope of the county implies the limit of the operation of the probation officer that needs to coordinate with the authorities in the other counties as needed to ensure that offenders fulfill the orders for probation.
3. What elements can affect the granting of probation?
Grant of probation is generally affected by two elements: first is the capability of the offender to stick to the order or probation until the probationary period has expired and second is the extent of the restrictions to be imposed on the freedom of the offender while under probation. This means that the perceived attitudes and behavior of the offender together with the validity of placing the offender under probation instead of incarcerating the offender constitute the factors that could sway the granting of probation. Three theories explain the restriction of the freedom of the offender placed under probation. First is grace theory, which imposes a conditional freedom on the offender as an extension of the court’s mercy (, 1996) due to the perceived good behavior of the offender during the period of probation. However, if the court perceives that the defendant would likely violate the conditions of the privilege granted then probation would not be granted. Second is contract theory, which asks the offender to agree and sign an agreement providing for particular terms in exchange for conditional freedom (, 1996). This works as the other kinds of contracts so that breach of any of the conditions results to the imposition of penalties that could mean the revocation of the probation order. This means that if the court considers the offender to be unable to commit to the terms of the conditional freedom such as prior records of recidivism, then probation would not likely be granted. Third is the custody theory, which provides that the offender under probation fall under the court’s custody giving the offender a quasi-prisoner status (, 1996) having limited freedom. If the offender is perceived to pose threats to the public even with this extent of restriction on freedom, then probation may not be granted.
4. How does the quality of supervision provided by a probation agency affect the granting of probation?
The quality of supervision provided by a probation agency affects the granting of probation by justifying the effectiveness of probation. Probation agencies play the dual role of law enforcement and offender rehabilitation. In law enforcement, probation officers supervise the offender under probation and make arrests in case of the commission of crimes or violation of the conditions for probation. In offender rehabilitation, probation officers play the role of social workers and counselors interested in the well-being of the offender. (, 1996) The dual role of probation agencies rests on the purpose of probation of striving to provide protection to the community by supervising the rehabilitation of offenders ( and , 1985). Quality of supervision depends on the ability of probation officers to balance their dual roles (, 1981; , 2003). Commonly, when probation officers experience conflict in the performance of their roles, they have the tendency to emphasize their law enforcement function by focusing on surveillance and control functions. This is supported by placing greater weight to extending protection to the community. If this happens, there is a great chance that probation officers would be unable to fulfill their rehabilitative roles. This then results to the non-rehabilitation of offenders under probation expressed through recidivism or repetition of offenses. This then weakens the purpose of probation as an alternative penalty to imprisonment. If this happens, courts would hesitate the granting of probation and seek evaluations of the problems of the probation agencies in failing to meet their roles. Moreover, the ability of probation agencies to achieve quality supervision of the probation system and offenders placed under probation affects public or community perception of the effectiveness of the system. If this happens, probation would lose its value as an alternative penalty that could affect the extension of probation orders by the courts in consideration of public interest.
UNIT 2- Individual Project - Juveniles
October 11, 2007
Christian and Peoria County Juvenile Probation Programs
Christian and Peoria County juvenile probation programs both commenced in 1997, August and October 1997 respectively. However, these focused on different support services. Christian County juvenile probation program constitutes an extended day program with the purpose of providing alternative systems to the detention of juvenile offenders. As such, its goals include the expansion of supervision to juvenile offenders, developing community-based services in coordination with various parties in interest, reducing the commission of new offenses that could lead to institutional or residential placement, facilitating the acceptance of accountability on the part of delinquent juveniles, and eliminating the use of illegal substances by delinquents under their supervision. The extended day program receives both male and female juveniles. Inclusion into the extended day program is made by applying the eligibility criteria of having at least a single prior delinquency adjudicated by the courts together with two or more contacts with law enforcement authorities. The program focuses on juvenile delinquents also involved in substance abuse. All juveniles accepted into the program are required to under Moral Reconation Therapy, a cognitive behavior group, and a life skills group every week for the entire period of probation. (., 2002) Peoria County juvenile probation program is managed by a unit handling juveniles involved in gangs and drug abuse. The purpose of the program is to provide a venue and modes of providing intervention and treatment to juveniles involved in gangs and illegal drugs by providing alternative activities to gang membership together with conducting appropriate surveillance to gain information on gangs, gang members, and gang activities to support interventions and police work. Inclusion into the program requires fulfillment of the criteria of juveniles placed on probation due to known involvement in gangs and substance abuse and the risk of being placed in residential arrangements or in prisons. All juveniles placed under the care of the unit undergo the two program phases. First phase involves the planning and controlling movements to allow participants to develop stability in meeting the rigors of the program. Second phase is counseling, treating and programming for substance abuse. Third phase is the community outreach program to facilitate accountability of juvenile offenders. Fourth and final phase is the reassignment of juveniles for purposes of transition into a regular probation program or the termination of the probation depending on behavior. (, 2007)
Goals, Successes and Failures
Both the juvenile programs of Christian and Peoria Counties focused on the reformation of juvenile delinquents involved in drug-related crimes. However, Peoria County also focuses on juveniles who are also involved in gangs. Moreover, there is also a difference in the approach taken by these programs. On one hand, Christian County program seeks to expand supervision and provision of community service areas for juveniles under detention based on the underlying principle of developing accountability to the community. The probation activities implemented by Christian County are directed towards the development of psychological, cognitive and other life skills necessary to transform juveniles into community contributors. On the other hand, Peoria County seeks to provide intervention to change the perspective of juveniles towards gang membership and drug abuse. The interventions involve supervised treatment and rehabilitation services. This means that Christian County program focuses on community involvement to reform the individual while Peoria County targets individual rehabilitation to serve community interests.
Based on statistics, these programs experienced successes and failures. In the case of Christian County, statistics showed that majority of juveniles committed to the program were classified as unsuccessful discharges. The juveniles who were unsuccessfully discharged were released from their probation status, fully committed in detention centers, placed in adult probation or had their probation order revoked. Out of the juveniles successfully discharged, all were eventually released. With regard to Peoria County, majority were successfully discharged. Out of the number of juveniles unsuccessfully discharged, most remained in the program or moved to the regular probation program. This means that while the programs have achieved successes, there are also failures expressed through the many juveniles placed under these programs who were discharged unsuccessfully or transferred to detention centers. (, 2002)
Reasons for the successes of these programs vary. In the case of Christian County, one reason for the success of the program is the focus treatments geared towards accountability, since this is necessary for reformation (, 1999). If juveniles would not recognize the adverse impacts of their offenses to the community, then there will be little room for change. Apart from this, the program also develops life skills for the juveniles under this program to develop the attitude and competencies they need to become independent adults who are good members of the community. With regard to Peoria County, the success of the program has been attributed to its intervention program aligned with individual progress. The reason for the division of the intervention program into different stages is the recognition of the variances in the progress of juveniles (placed under the program so that juveniles are provided support according to their pace of progress.
Reasons for the failures of the program are also varied. In the case of Christian County, its failure is due to the application of mental or psychological testing only when the probation officer senses the need. Even if the program offers life skills, the unrecognized and untreated psychological problems may constitute a drawback to progress (, 2000). Apart from this, there are a limited number of personnel assigned to the program limiting the success of the extended supervision. With regard to Peoria County, the failures of the probation program is due to the assessment measures used in determining the needs of juveniles at the onset of the probation as well as progress as they move through the various phases. Another cause for the failure is the constantly changing composition of the unit that prevents continuity of treatment. If one member is replaced, the new member has to start over in developing fiduciary relations with the juveniles under the program and learn their case file again resulting to delays in the continuation of treatment.
Effective Programs and Future Improvements
Based on the comparison of the probation programs of Christian and Peoria Counties, the anti-gang memberships and drug rehabilitation program constitutes a better probation program for a number of reasons. First, the Peoria probation program has resulted in more successful discharges when compared to statistics on the probation program of Christian County. Second, the probation program of Peoria County is based on individual progress, which means that greater attention is given to customized intervention ensuring better results. Third, the unit handling probation has more membership when compared to the ratio of probation officers to juveniles under detention, which ensures greater supervision and attention given to the juveniles under detention.
Future improvements in juvenile programs involve having a context-based approach based on individual needs. This means that intervention should be greatly customized. This is not saying that general interventions should be abandoned. Customization means that probation officers should be flexible in adjusting the applied intervention based on the actual and changing needs of juveniles (, 2000. Since the success of juvenile probation programs rests on the competence of probation officers on a similar level with the intervention measures, greater resource allocation is needed to support probation programs. Resources support the enhancement of the knowledge and skills of probation officers and workers as well as the development of better intervention processes and activities through research and testing. Lack of resources may be the reason why the Website of Peoria County for juvenile probation has not been maximized while Christian County does not have a website to support linkages with other probation programs. Apart from this, facilities will also be improved to create an environment more conducive to rehabilitation such as the introduction of educational and skills development tools or equipment and other tangible requirements in developing life skills.
UNIT 2- Discussion Board - Juveniles
October 11, 2007
What is the purpose of juvenile probation? Identify some main conditions of juvenile probation and discuss the major responsibilities of the juvenile probation officer. As a probation officer, what would be your approach to "reaching" juveniles?
Juvenile probation serves a dual purpose. First is to provide protection to the community from delinquents and further delinquent action. Second is to develop competencies of juvenile offenders by facilitating accountability for the offenses they have committed so they can move on to become productive and responsible members of the community. ( and , 1997) Moreover, juvenile probation serves the purpose as the channel for rendering court-ordered services. Probation serves as a front-end channel for juveniles committing offenses for the first time or those deemed as low-risk offenders. In addition, probation could also serve as a back-end alternative in lieu of institutional confinement for juveniles committing offenses that are more serious. (, 1993)
Juvenile probation involves conditions that depend upon the type of probation as either voluntary or by court order, which refers to the instances when juveniles agree to adhere to undergo informal probation for a defined period as a substitute for formal adjudication (, 1999). The conditions of court ordered probation include juveniles having to submit and adhere to all the terms and conditions of the probation order of the court such as good behavior during the period of probation. Good behavior includes not being involved in legal infractions during the probation period as well as fulfilling responsibilities to render services in the community. Other conditions include the development of life skills by engaging in formal and vocational education as well as counseling and rehabilitation as needed. Voluntary probation also involves similar conditions except that the conditions are not set by the court but by parents, teachers and other parties affected by the infraction of the juvenile.
The major responsibilities of the probation officer involve the dual role of policing and rehabilitating juvenile offenders (, 1996). Policing juvenile offenders include the role of regularly monitoring the activities of juvenile offender, especially those placed under the care of institutions or individuals outside of the juvenile justice system. In case of infractions, the juvenile probation officer apprehends and takes the juvenile into custody to undergo the proper procedure. Rehabilitating juvenile offenders include advising the juveniles under probation of the limitations in their actions as well as their service responsibilities. The juvenile detention officer could also recommend professionals in cases when the juvenile offenders need counseling and rehabilitation. Overall, the role of the juvenile probation officer is to ensure the rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents to become contributing members of the community. Major responsibilities of the juvenile probation officer
The fitting approach of a probation officer to effectively reaching juveniles is to treat them as individuals with their respective needs so that supervision should be made on a case-to-case basis depending on individual contexts (, 1996). This means that the juvenile probation officers should have complete knowledge not only of the recorded offenses of juveniles but also their personal backgrounds. Comprehensive knowledge is important because delinquency of often rooted in the personal circumstances and environmental influences of juveniles. As an example, in cases when theft was due to poverty, this means that reaching the juvenile offender is through the encouragement to develop employment skills and providing opportunities for education and skills development under the probation program to address the root of the delinquency. Moreover, supporting the juvenile delinquent to develop psychological competencies ensures the ability of the juvenile to make decisions away from recidivism. Juvenile probation officers should be keen on playing their dual role and not just focusing on mere policing if the purpose of juvenile probation is to be achieved.
UNIT 3- Individual Project - Parole
October 11, 2007
Placing criminals in prisons benefits everyone.
Placing criminals in prison offers benefits but this does not necessarily benefit everyone. Imprisonment offers a number of benefits such as the protection of the community through prevention of future crimes during the duration of the incarceration, retribution of the victims and the community affected, and rehabilitation of offenders. These benefits are realized to a certain extent but not everyone experiences the benefits. This means that state of the prison system determines the achievement of benefits for more people.
Generally, there are four reasons that justify the establishment of prison systems. First is the protection of society by preventing offenders from committing further crimes (, 1998). By incarcerating dangerous criminals and persistent non-violent offenders, communities receive protection from these people for the period of confinement. Imprisonment works by temporarily incapacitating offenders from committing more crimes. In addition, the public expects prison systems to facilitate the rehabilitation of inmates so that upon release they would refrain from committing further crimes. Moreover, imprisonment also works as a deterrent for people not to commit crimes because of the fear of imprisonment (, 2001).
These are the reasons for the perception that the higher number of people imprisoned coincides with a lower crime rate. However, upon deeper consideration, it can be determined that there is only a moderate relationship between the number of people in prison and the crime rate. Even while a lower crime rate finds attributed to the prison system, this could also be the result of other factors such as better economic conditions or improved criminal apprehension. From another standpoint, the rate of imprisonment reflects the capacity of the prisons to accommodate offenders instead of showing a lower crime rate. United States experience a high crime rate as well as incarceration rate, which mean that this perspective does not accurately support this perspective.
Due to the increasing population of inmates in the United States, selective incapacitation was applied. This involves the development and implementation of assessment measures and systems to determine the offenders who should be accorded the priority for imprisonment because of the severity of their crimes and the extent of danger they pose on the community. (, 1982) Concurrently, alternative penalty systems were established such as probation programs to accommodate the offenders who have committed non-violent crimes and pose less serious or controllable threats to the community. The need for alternative systems indicates that the prison system does not benefit everyone. Although the primary reason for the development of alternative systems may be the growing inmate population, it cannot be denied that alternative systems reflect the recognition that imprisonment may not be the most effective penalty for some offenders and offenses.
Second is the achievement of retributive justice (, 1998). When imprisonment is perceived as the curtailment of freedom, then imprisonment satisfies the desire of the community, especially the victims, for vengeance. Overtime, imprisonment has been perceived as the appropriate penalty for the commission of crimes so that the restriction of freedom creates the perception that offenders have paid for the adverse effects of their criminal actions. Retribution is balanced by the guarantees of due process that require imprisonment according to law. This means that even if a purpose of imprisonment is retribution, there is need to apply due process, which in turn enhances the justification for imprisonment. The community interest of retribution is balanced with the interests of the justice system to provide fair trial and ensure that the people imprisoned are found guilty based on sufficient evidence.
However, based on developments in the value and consideration of evidence in the resolution of criminal cases, particularly the widespread utilization of DNA forensic evidence, a number of inmates have been exonerated due to the forensic evidence showing that they have been wrongly accused (, 2007). This resulted to questions on the merit of the prison system in allowing the victims and the community at large to achieve retribution. With the failure of the due process in terms of using evidence to support convictions and judgments of guilt, imprisonment loses its legitimacy. Prior to the recognition of DNA evidence, a number of inmates under death row have already been executed. Moreover, even with the recognized importance of DNA-based evidence, there are instances when the process of analyzing DNA evidence has been placed in question ( and , 2002). Imprisonment benefited the community and victims of offenders whose guilt has been proven even with DNA evidence but adversely affected the individuals imprisoned for crimes that they did not commit.
Third is the rehabilitation of offenders directed towards their eventual integration into the community (, 1998). Prison systems are intended to support the rehabilitation of inmates so that upon release, they will chose to avoid further criminal behavior. Most prisons in the United States have established educational and vocational programs to develop employment skills of inmates, counselors dealing with the psychological issues of inmates, and an array of other services that develops the confidence of inmates on their abilities to become reintegrated into as contributing members of the community. There are also study-release and work-release programs intended for community reintegration. These allow inmates to be allowed temporary or conditional release to receive education, work, or visit their families. Through the gradual reintroduction of inmates to societal activities such as familial relations, education and employment, they also gradually adjust to long-term community membership.
However, the social structure that developed in prisons could also stagnate the rehabilitation of inmates and their eventual reintegration into the community. (1968) provide that the prisons in the United States constitute self-contained and self-sufficient systems with unique characteristics. As an isolate social system, inmates develop norms and practices that hamper social reintegration. Imprisonment can develop attitudes among inmates that enhance the propensity to engage in further criminal activity. The prison system has been recognized to create a sub-system. Upon release, inmates may not be rehabilitated.
This means that while imprisonment may benefit inmates and the community with the number of rehabilitated inmates, the benefit could be overshadowed by the adverse impact of the prison subculture to the inmates and the objective of the community to rehabilitate and reintegrate inmates.
UNIT 3- Discussion Board - Parole
October 11, 2007
What were some of the major criticisms that led some states to abandon the indeterminate sentence and parole? Do you support abolition of indeterminate sentence and parole? Why or why not? Please be sure to support your position.
The indeterminate sentence and parole has been criticized because of the growing rate of redundancy or crimes perpetrated by offenders under parole indicating the ineffectiveness of the system of indeterminate sentence and parole in determining the people fit to be released before serving the maximum sentence but after meeting the minimum sentence. The criticisms of the indeterminate sentence and parole system in the US revolve around the subjectivity of the process of evaluating inmates due for parole. Although criteria determine the individuals due for parole, rehabilitation is a state of mind (, 1999) that the parole board cannot completely determine. This means that even if the parole board may determine an inmate to be ready for parole, this does not guaranty that the inmate will not engage in crime upon conditional release so that the community is not also guaranteed safety. Rehabilitation is also a subjective process (, 1999) that depends upon the personal and professional assessment of the members of the parole board. Apart from the lack of sufficient standards in assessing the record of inmates who have met their minimum sentence, an indeterminate sentence has also been criticized as inhuman (, 1999) because the lack of knowledge of the offender on the time of release may cause frustration, stress and even violent behavior. Moreover, criticisms of the justice system such as the strength of due process have also been linked to indeterminate sentence. With a questionable due process, it becomes inhuman to impose an indeterminate sentence because of the possibility of having an extended sentence for the people unduly sentenced.
A further criticism involves the inhumane nature of the indeterminate sentence. Advocate groups decry the stress and depression that inmates feel in not knowing exactly when they will get out ( and , 1999). In indeterminate sentence, the offender has to serve the minimum sentence and the additional years depend on the decision of the parole board. The time range is the only information known to the offender. The purpose of the indeterminate sentence is to allow prisoners to receive parole grants according to their personal and criminal background as well as observed attitudes and behavior while imprisoned. The judge gives a range of sentence and the parole board assesses the prison record of the inmate after serving the minimum sentence to determine if the inmate is fit for release even before the completion of the maximum period of imprisonment. This was intended to become an incentive for good behavior of prison inmates but the uncertainty of release before the maximum term together with the subjectivity of the evaluation process cancels out this incentive.
The abolition of the indeterminate sentence and parole is valid at the present rate and direction that criminal justice policies are going. There are problems in the indeterminate sentence and parole system resulting to its ineffectiveness in ensuring good behavior in the community in exchange for release before the maximum sentence. These problems include the intervention of subjectivity in the evaluation process requiring training of evaluation officers and standardization of the evaluation process. (1999) provides that changes to the criminal justice system include the further development of the evidence system in determining criminal actions, general assessment criteria that can be applied in a flexible manner by well-trained and experienced parole officers, and the minimization of the politicization of the prison system. Since these problems are receiving insufficient attention, the abolition of the indeterminate sentence and parole is valid in favor of better alternatives that effectively address these problems.
UNIT 4- Discussion Board – Rehabilitation and Supervision
October 15, 2007
Describe the various roles that probation/parole officers can take on including probation/parole officer roles as agency models, agents of rehabilitation, broker/advocate agents, and probation/parole officers as law enforcement agents.
What type of officer do you feel would have the greatest opportunity to make a positive impact on an offender? Explain why. If you were to go into probation/parole, which role would you want to fill?
Probation/parole officers take on various roles revolving around the basic dual role of law enforcement and rehabilitation of offenders under their supervision together with the extension of their responsibility as advocates and role models to the individuals under their charge. (1996) provides that probation/parole officers play the dual role of policing and rehabilitating offenders on placed under probation or parole. and (1997) explain the dual role of probation/parole officers as protecting the community from offenders under probation or parole from committing further crimes and supporting the development of competencies on the part of offenders so they can become contributing members of the community. Probation/parole officers are assigned investigative and supervisory roles (, 2007) towards offenders placed under their responsibility. However, in practice probation/parole officers have to take on various tasks that even extend beyond their typical law enforcement roles. Extension of roles is necessary in playing their law enforcement responsibilities.
Probation/parole officers also take on the responsibility as advocate agents supporting the goal of rehabilitating offenders. This means that apart from policing or monitoring the activities of individuals under probation or parole, they ensure that these comply with the terms of their conditional release, community service responsibilities, and rehabilitative duties. As advocates, probation/parole officers are engaged in information sharing not only to the individuals under probation or parole but also to law enforcement authorities and the courts as well as community representatives so that they become the link that bridge multi-party coordination in ensuring the rehabilitation of offenders. They constitute repositories of information crucial in guiding decisions and policies. Probation/parole officers take a proactive role instead of just observers in monitoring the activities of offenders under probation or parole.
Moreover, probation/parole officers act as role models in embodying law and order. This means that their actions and the manner they deal or treat offenders placed under their responsibility determines the perception of offenders under probation or parole on law and order in the community. In this sense, probation/parole officers become agency models fitting to show offenders the difference between lawfulness and lawlessness to justify the rehabilitation of offenders to become lawful members of the community. As agency models, probation/parole officers should not discriminate or isolate offenders from the community but support their innovativeness in reintegrating into the community.
The type of officer that should make a positive impact on offenders based on the variety of tasks that probation/parole officers play are those that take on a holistic and long-term perspective in their responsibility. Probation/parole officers develop a holistic perspective by recognizing that rehabilitation, which is the ultimate goal of correctional and alternative efforts, cannot happen by merely observing the activities of offenders on probation or parole. Offenders often need support in identifying the people that can help them develop life skills that probation/parole officers recommend or advice on ways of lawful behavior and evading negative social and environmental influences that probation/parole officers are knowledgeable about. (2001) provide that probation/parole officers not only take responsibility for supervision but also coordinating with offenders and their families to support rehabilitation. Probation/parole officers effectively play their roles by coordinating with the courts and correctional facilities to obtain comprehensive knowledge about the offenders to determine the possible help they need in turning their lives around.
If I were to engage into probation/parole, an interesting role would be the advocacy part, since this serves as an important aspect of probation/parole but given the least attention. As an advocate for the rehabilitation of individuals under probation or parole, I would serve the role of bridging the exchange of communications between the individuals under my charge with policy-makers in the criminal justice system, community organizations, and other groups to draw understanding and cooperation for the development of an effective holistic and long-term probation/parole program.
UNIT 4- Individual Findings – Rehabilitation and Supervision
October 15, 2007
First, research the Internet and Library for information on how probation/parole has implemented the classification system in determining the needs of clients. Discuss any goals, successes, and failures.
Classification system is used in determining the needs of individuals on probation or parole but only to certain extents. This depends upon the developments in the perspective of individual needs. Traditionally, the needs of client were based on the perception of corrections and law enforcement ( and , 1985; , 1994) so that needs focused on the role of probation/parole officers in supervising offenders placed on probation or parole. Classification system is used to determine the extent of supervision needed by offenders conditionally released in the community (, , & , 2004). Every individual has a respective score card with points depending upon criminal record especially redundancy and the nature of offences, age, and employment status. The score determines the extent of risk of the offender on probation or parole to the community as well as the corresponding supervision needed. Classification is made in various stages covering initial classification, re-classification, and pre-release classification to determine changes in the risk scores of offenders on probation or parole for purposes of supervision or the removal of supervision. Concurrently, four basic levels of supervision exist, which are administrative, minimum, regular and intensive. Apart from supervision, these classifications also determine the type of community service assignment of offenders on probation or parole.( and , 1985) Based on the traditional use of classification systems, the individual needs of offenders on probation or parole are determined but only to the extent of dealing with their need for supervision and community service. In this sense, classification system was used only to determine the needs of individuals not from the perspective of the individuals themselves or even the parties affected by the crime committed but from the perspective of the probation/parole officers.
With the recognition of the problems posed by probation and parole systems emerged alternative perspectives including customized rehabilitative support for offenders on probation or parole to lessen repeat or redundant offenders. The rising number of offenders previously placed under probation or parole, committing successive crimes indicated a problem in the probation and parole system including the classification system. (1999) provides that with the recognition of restorative justice, the traditional classification system does not coincide with the model of restorative justice involving the interactive processes involving the offenders, victims and the communities so that the focus of restorative justice is the resolution of differences and reparation of damages. This means that the traditional classification system focuses only on the needs of offenders based on the perspective of probation/parole officers without considering the perspectives of the various stakeholders comprised of the parties involved in restorative justice. The classification system should facilitate the segmentation of the individual needs of offenders to allow victims and communities to deal with offenders with lesser risk to allow probation/parole officers to focus on high-risk offenders. However, this does not mean that the traditional classification system is not effective but there is need to expand the classification to accommodate more purposes and more perspectives since individual offenders, victims and communities can also contribute to determining the needs of individual offenders.
The expansion of the traditional classification system involves the consideration of the actual needs of individual offenders based on their perspective as well as the interest of the victims and communities. The objective approach provides an expanded version of the traditional classification by considering not only the supervisory needs and community service assignments of offenders under probation or parole as the purpose of the classification but also the custody, housing, rehabilitation, and other program needs of individual offenders under probation or parole. This alternative classification system support decisions on the development of need-based treatment programs adjusted according to individual circumstances. This classification is made by looking at the criminal record of individuals, personal and family circumstances, psychological state, knowledge and skills, and other aspects relevant to rehabilitation. (, 2006) By applying the objective classification system that allows the rehabilitation plan to target individual needs, the rate of rehabilitation should rise together with a decline in the rate of repeat offenders or redundant criminal behavior.
(2006) adds that the National Institute for Corrections (NIC) has developed a guideline in determining classification systems. These guidelines encompass goal determination of the classification system, measurement criteria and instruments, matching classification results with needs based on the comprehensive record of offenders, and efficiency in the classification and re-classification processes. A guideline worth noting provides for the involvement of offenders in conducting the process of classification. By doing so, the rehabilitation plan would accrue greater acceptance not only by probation/parole officers but also by the offenders under probation or parole and the community. With acceptance, the commitment of the offenders to the rehabilitation plan based on the classification system applied with their participation should follow. Concurrently, greater commitment ensures greater rates of successful rehabilitation and re-integration of offenders under probation or parole in the community. Obtaining the participation of offenders in the development of the classification system may be made through interviews or interactions focusing on personal circumstances, interests and goals that when taken together would determine commonalities and differences constituting the basis for general classification criteria designed to be flexible or adjustable to the differences in individual needs. This means that at present, classification systems for use in the determination of individual needs have evolved to address needs and perspectives of various stakeholders and to serve a number of purposes.
Overall, classification systems now play the role of determining the needs of clients through the establishment of guidelines in developing these systems that depend on information obtained from the participation of stakeholders including offenders themselves, probation and parole officers, victims, and communities. This involved a development from the traditional classification system that determined needs according to the perspective of probation/parole officers limited only to the need for supervision and community service matching. Through this development, classification systems became important in determining individual client needs to address the problems of repeat offenders and ensure the effectiveness of the classification system in determining the appropriate rehabilitation program for individual clients. The goal of rehabilitation should be addressed with an encompassing but flexible classification system.
UNIT 5- Individual Project – Special Problems and Intermediate Punishments
October 15, 2007
Write a report on a special probation/parole client and programs that have been established to address this problem client. Include in your report several (at least 2 to 3) examples of programs that have been created. List their strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures.
In the second part of your report, discuss plans for a new program. Use the strengths from some of the programs that you have researched in your design. Provide specific details as to how and why your program will be a success.
With the recognition of the need for individualized probation or parole programs to increase the rate of success in achieving the goal of reforming offenders to prevent their further commission of crime (., 2005), special programs have developed to address the individual needs of juvenile offenders involved in gangs. Juvenile offenders involved in gangs have been characterized based on the interactions of probation officers with gang members placed under probation as having problems with anger control and impulsiveness. Juvenile offenders involved in gangs also cannot be controlled by their parents because of family problems such as the lack of fitting parental role models, abuse, or absence of parental guidance. The reason for the involvement in gangs is the sense of belongingness that they obtain from membership, which they fail to get from their families. ( and , 2005) Due to their distinct circumstances, this group of clients requires a special probation program and a number of probation programs targeting the needs of juvenile clients who are members are gangs have been established in different states and counties.
In New York, (2004) has established the Juvenile Accountability Grant (JAG) with the purpose of enhancing public safety from gang activities as well as decreasing youth crime through the promotion of accountability and rehabilitative adjudication of juvenile offenders. This program covers juveniles considered as ‘persons in need of supervision’ (PINS) or juvenile delinquents involved in varying levels of gang activity. The program for this group of special clients involves the application of intensive supervision including surveillance during the day and night and monitoring of compliance with curfew hours. Moreover, the program also involves group therapy to provide juveniles with the opportunity to exchange opinions and ideas with other juveniles involved in gangs and in some instances settle unfounded hate for other gangs. The provision of support group for parents also forms part of the program.
This specialized program offers benefits to the purpose of rehabilitation by catering to the needs of juvenile delinquents under probation with involvement in gangs or gang activity. Through a specialized program, the probation officers or supervisors have a wide range of knowledge and experience with this clientele necessary in reaching them to cooperate and participate in the special rehabilitation program. Although, the JAG program was based on the needs of juveniles involved in gangs, the special programs were limited only to supervision, group therapy, and family support groups as separate activities. The program failed to provide a venue for integrating individual and family therapy based on the recognition that gang membership commonly develops from family problems. This means that the family plays an important role in rehabilitating juvenile offenders engaged in gangs. If the family of the juvenile offender is deemed to be unable to support the rehabilitation of the juvenile under probation, then alternative social systems need to be determined and developed to ensure rehabilitation.
In Michigan, the (2007) developed its Electronic Monitoring Program intended for juveniles involved in gangs who have committed less serious offenses so that the courts deem punishment as necessary for retributive justice but the severity of the punishment deemed valid is less than imprisonment. Instead of incarceration, these offenders are placed under probation through house arrest and restricted movement in the community. This state jurisdiction developed an electronic monitoring system intended to provide probation officers with a means of supervising this group of juvenile offenders. The electronic monitoring system commenced in 1986 in Washtenaw County but in the next year, it was introduced in the entire state. The program works by having juveniles under probation wear a portable electronic device that emits signals able to determine whether the juvenile offender is within the designated place after curfew hours or during scheduled counseling or rehabilitation sessions. This program offers a cost advantage to the state because of the minimal need for personal monitoring of juveniles under probation. However, it also has the weakness of being unable to track the whereabouts of the juvenile offenders when they are out of range of the beacon sending the signal to the monitoring officers. This means that the supervising officers can only be able to tell that the juvenile under probation has left the designated place at a designated time but it is not able to track where the offender has gone. With improved technology, incorporating a tracking device in the electronic monitoring system would enhance the effectiveness of this special program for juveniles committing less serious infractions and optimize the technological spending on the electronic monitoring device and system.
An alternative special program that addresses the supervision of juveniles under probation is the improved electronic monitoring program. Electronic monitoring devices should be developed to provide not only whether the juvenile is within the range of the location where he or she should be at a given time and day and apprising probation officers of the failure of the juvenile to be at that place during the allotted time but also the exact location of the juvenile via global positioning system (GPS). This allows supervision to develop the active participation of the juvenile offenders to take responsibility in meeting their duties and service obligations with the knowledge that by not complying with their responsibilities they stand to revoke their existing probation conditions for more serious conditions and responsibilities. Since GPS only provides the location of the juvenile offender, there is a possibility that another person in lieu of the juvenile offender could wear the device. As a further development, the electronic monitoring device could also be integrated with the newly developed biometric system that is able to determine whether the person wearing the device is the juvenile placed under probation. The improved electronic monitoring system would be more cost-effective in requiring probation officers to conduct regular personal visits and monitor performance through the electronic monitoring system. However, since this device only supervises the presence of the juvenile under probation at the designated place and time, there is still need for regular personal visits to ensure the rehabilitative progress of the juvenile offender through consistent good behavior, psychological wellness to become a community member, and other holistic rehabilitative measures. This involves the probation officer meeting with the family of the juvenile offender, teachers, counselors, community service supervisors, and other parties closely involved in the probation program of the juvenile offender to determine compliance and improvements of the juvenile offender as well as determine the need for program adjustments whenever necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the special probation program. Moreover, individual, group and family therapy should also form part of the probation program to ensure greater success in discouraging future gang and crime involvement. Successfully rehabilitating juvenile offenders involved in gangs requires a comprehensive approach ( and , 2005) that deals with the cause of gang membership and crime involvement in an equal manner as ensuring retribution.
UNIT 5- Discussion Board – Special Problems and Intermediate Punishments
October 15, 2007
Discuss intermediate punishment and alternatives to traditional probation and parole practices. Do you think any of these alternatives would be effective - even more so than traditional probation/parole? Explain. Search the Library and Internet for some examples of alternatives and discuss how well they have worked. Cite your sources.
Intermediate punishment and alternatives to the traditional probation and parole practices refer to court sentences that do not involve imprisonment but requires alternative forms of court-ordered sanctions (, , & , 1993). This means that intermediate punishment constitutes alternatives to imprisonment, which is considered severe for the crime committed and the other personal record of the offender. Nevertheless, offenders sanctioned with intermediate punishment also have to fulfill certain conditions. (2003) adds that intermediate punishment constitutes the middle ground in between imprisonment and the traditional probation or parole systems. As an alternative, qualifying offenders live in the community but subject to compliance with strict conditions. Non-compliance with the conditions involves more severe penalties such as stricter conditions or even imprisonment. Intermediate punishment and alternatives to the traditional probation and parole programs could constitute effective means of achieving the goals of probation and parole more than the traditional practices. These alternatives should be assessed based on their practical benefits to determine relative effectiveness. Again, context-based applications and evaluations are necessary in determining the relative merits of traditional and alternative probation and parole systems. Integrative practices remain the most effective alternatives by addressing various limitations and problems.
One example of intermediate punishment is electronic monitoring (, 2003). The extent of technological innovativeness of the electronic monitoring system of the different state and county jurisdictions determines its relative effectiveness to the traditional supervision in probation and parole. If the electronic monitoring device is limited only to determining the presence or absence of the individual under probation or parole in certain places at given times, then this does not constitute a more effective practice than traditional supervision. This is because personal supervision allows the probation or parole officer to determine not only the location of the offender but also the activities of the offender to determine compliance with the conditions of the probation or parole while electronic monitoring fails to determine compliance with the other conditions. This means that electronic monitoring cannot stand as the sole supervision practice. This should be complemented with other practices such as regular visits and interactions with the offender.
Another example of intermediate punishment is day reporting, which involves the duty of the offender under probation or parole to report daily to their probation or parole officers to report their daily activities for easier monitoring (, 2003). This works because the probation or parole officer knows where to find the individual. However, this carries the challenge of constantly checking on the individual by personally checking the location or coordinating with key informants in the venue placed in the itinerary to monitor the individual. This form of intermediate punishment is similar to traditional probation or parole practices in terms of the achievement of supervisory goals. The integration of this with electronic monitoring could enhance its effectiveness relative to the traditional probation or parole practices.
Still another form of intermediate punishment is house arrest, which involves the individuals to remain in their residences for the duration of the sanction. To ensure that individuals remain in their homes, the probation or parole officer regularly calls or checks personally on the individual at random times to ensure compliance. This constitutes a more effective practice to the traditional probation and parole practices because the supervising officers know exactly where to locate the individual making it easier to determine compliance and non-compliance. Relative effectiveness is enhanced when integrated with electronic monitoring (, , & , 1997) since there is only a limited area for study.