In order to study the past, present and future implications of the probation and parole system, I had to study the history of both. I will begin with the history of probation and then talk about the history of parole. I will also talk about how probation and parole work in the present and how and what will happen to both probation and parole in the future. Probation comes from the Latin verb prob are which means to prove, to rest. Probation was first introduced to the United States in 1841 when a boot-maker by the name of John Augustus attended court to bail out a drunkard. This offender was released to the custody of Mr.
Augustus making him the first true probation officer, the offender was told to return to court in three weeks time for sentencing. During the time the offender was in the custody of Mr. Augustus he cleaned up his appearance and demeanor. Mr. Augustus had the belief that abusers of alcohol could be rehabilitated through the use of understanding, kindness, and sustained moral suasion not convictions and jail sentences.
His beliefs were based on his affiliation with the Washington Total Abstinence Society, they abstained from alcohol. Augustus was a volunteer probation officer for 18 years. He began the practice of evaluating the prospective probationers paying close attention to whether the candidate would prove to be a successful candidate for probation. Things that were considered in a successful candidate were the character, age, and influences, those influences could be people, places or things. The first probation statute was first enacted 1859. The administration of the probation system varies from one state to another, some combine probation and parole.
Parole comes from the French word parole which means to give one's word of honor or promise. The credit for establishing the early parole system goes to Alexander Maconochie who was in charge of the English penal colony at Norfolk Island, off the coast of Australia and Sir Walter Crofton, director of Ireland's prisons. Maconochie criticized the definite prison terms so he developed a system for good conduct, labor and study. He used a process called the mark system. Through this system prisoners, progressed through stages of increasing responsibility with the reward being release. In 1840, Maconochie received a chance to use his new rewards system while he was the superintendent at the Norfolk penal colony, his criteria for prisoner release was not time served but task accomplishment.
He did well with the prisoners at Norfolk. He returned to England in 1844, he campaigned for the parole system to be used. In 1849, he tried to implement the parole system when he was appointed governor of the New Birmingham prison, but met with apprehension, others believed that his methods were to lenient. Maconochie was dismissed from his position in 1851. Sir Walter Crofton tried to implement Maconochie's system in the Irish Prison system in 1854. Crofton belief was that prison programs should be directed more towards reformation.
In order for this reformation to happen Crofton thought that "tickets of leave" should be awarded to prisoners who showed a definite achievement and had a positive attitude change. He also transferred prisoners into intermediate prisons after a period in a strict imprisonment. When the prisoners were in the intermediate prisons they could then earn marks that would accumulate, these marks were received for work performance, behavior, and improvement of education. By earning enough marks, the prisoners could receive their tickets of leave and would be released on parole. Once on parole the new parolee was required to report to the police. The police would help the parolees find jobs and oversaw their activities.
These contributions that Crofton made to the Irish Prison System are credited to the modern system of parole. The implementation of the parole system in the United States was done by Zebulon Brockway. Brockway used a two part system. This system was managing the prison population and preparing the prisoners for release. He put this practice to work in 1876, after his appointment as superintendent of a youth reformatory.
Once youth were admitted to the reformatory, they were placed into a classification. This classification was termed "second grade." In order to get to "first grade" an inmate had to have six months of good behavior If the inmate misbehaved they were sent to "third grade", from this grade the inmate would have to work his way back up. Once an inmate maintained good behavior at the first grade level, they were released. However, this release did not get them out of the system.
Now the inmate had to report to a jurisdiction of authorities for six months. The report was done on the first day of the month. This report was made to a volunteer guardian, this is where parole officers came from. Reporting to the parole officer, the parolee had to provide accountings of his situation and conduct. The first state to adopt a parole system was New York in 1907. By 1927, there only three states that had not instituted a parole system, they were Florida, Mississippi, and Virginia.
By 1942 all of the states, and the federal government had instituted such systems as were introduced by Maconochie, Crofton and Brockway. Today the use of probation is the most common form of sentencing in the criminal justice system. The probationer is placed under the supervision and care of probation staff. As long as the probationer maintains certain standards of contact they can remain "free." A violation of probation can lead to imprisonment. In 1995 over three million adults were on probation. Even though probation is widely used is comes under much criticism.
The criticism comes from the idea that it is soft on crime, cares little for the victims and ignores the predatory criminals. Public image of probation is poor and misunderstood. The other issue that face probation is the lack of funding, this lack of funding often leads to not enough supervision of the probationer. In more urban areas those on probation are often assigned to a probation officer that is handling a case load of a hundred plus cases. In this situation offenders can often complete their probation without completing specified requirements; court fees can go unpaid and as long as the offender is not arrested, they can "sail" through the system. The issue with this is that it makes a mockery of the system.
It is not necessarily the system that is fault but how it is managed. Some benefits to probation are that it costs less than imprisonment, increases chances for rehabilitation and reduces the risk of criminal socialization. The downfall to probation as it stands in today's world is when an offender violates probation the overcrowding in jail, where do you put the probation violator. This leads to how probation can be changed for the future. Some changes to the probation system would make it more acceptable to the public. Those changes would be greater judicial involvement, increased funding, making rehabilitation services more easily accessible and using electronic monitoring devices instead of imprisonment for probation violators.
Getting judges more involved in probation holds them more accountable for their sentencing option. Judges can impose the probation sentences on an individual basis. One example comes from a Texas judge who chose to sentence a child molester to probation. The terms of the probation were that the offender, who was a music instructor had to sell his piano, that was worth $12, 000, barred him from being able to purchase any other piano until the end of his probation and the offender had to post a sign on his front door that warned children to stay away. The benefit to this is that offenders are less likely to break their probation. The down side is that it adds more to the judges' workload and often times their court calendars are overbooked.
By increasing funding for probation, there would be an increase in probation officers to monitor the offenders. This funding would also be used to make sure that rehabilitation services are available. For example, if the offenders' offense was drugs then he or she could be put into a drug rehab to conquer the addiction. By conquering the addiction there is less chance of recidivism. The use of an electronic monitoring device if an offender violates his or her probation, instead of imprisonment is another option to make probation better. The use of an electronic device would allow the offender to have restrictions placed on their person, such as only being able to go a certain distance from the base; the base would be placed in a central location in the home.
The use of an electronic monitoring device was publicized in the case with Martha Stewart, she is allowed to go to work at certain times and all other times she must be in her home or on her property. These changes to the probation system would make it look better in the public image. In today's use of parole, an inmate is released from prison and placed on supervision. This has come to show the leniency in the criminal justice system. This leniency led to 14 states abolishing parole by the end of 1998. California is one state that still uses a parole system, but they only use it for offenders that have an indeterminate life sentence.
These inmates have either committed first-degree murder and kidnap for ransom. In states that still have a parole board there is less likelihood for the board to grant parole. With the abolishment of parole the inmate looking to get out of prison, would revert to probation. Some issues that parole faces is that when parole is abolished and a prisoner is released after serving a predetermined amount of time, there is no supervision after release. In the case of Richard Allen Davis, his petition for parole had been refused on six different occasions.
When California abolished their discretionary parole board, Davis' had already served his predetermined amount of time and was released from prison. Four months after his release he murdered Polly Klaas. It is suspected that had California not abolished the parole board then Mr. Davis would not have been able to murder Ms. Klaas. In most cases parole helps the released offender to find employment and offers drug and alcohol programs.
In the 20 th century, parole was thought to make sense. It provided prisoner reform, allowed prison officials a way to maintain institution control and discipline, and was used as a way to stop prison overcrowding. The growth of parole is not without its faults. It did not involve uniform development, public support or quality practices. Parole as a rehabilitation tool was never taken seriously.
The future of parole is uncertain, like probation it too needs to be restructured. The future of both probation and parole need to be used together. If an inmate is release with the use of parole then they should be assigned a parole and probation officer. By assigning both, the offender now has to report to both officers. The report days would be different and at first should be weekly for a predetermined amount of time then become bi-weekly, eventually working to a once a month visit to the probation and parole officers. It should also be allowed that the probation and parole officers can go to the offenders home and / or job at random times to "check-up" on the offender.
With the offender, not knowing if and when this could happen would keep them "on their toes." With a drug offender, the use of random drug testing that could happen at either a office visit, in the home or on the job, would most likely cause the offender to think about using drugs while on probation / parole . The one thing that will make probation and parole successful is the supervision of the programs. References used: Parole and Prisoner Reentry in the United States, Joan Petersilia, Ph. D. , retrieved from web on April 21, 2005 Probation in the United States, Joan Petersilia, Ph.
D. , retrieved from web on April 21, 2005.