Problems and challenges facing probation

When ethical dilemmas arise, probation officers must act appropriately to avoid compromising the integrity of the community supervision system. Difficult Work According to the U. Department of Labor, probation officers are required to meet many court-imposed deadlines, which contribute to heavy workloads. Extensive travel and fieldwork may be required to meet with offenders who are on probation or parole.

Problems and challenges facing probation

Aboutfelons will be released from prison this year in the United States and begin some form of official supervision, usually parole. Turning this situation around requires paying attention to one simple idea: When it comes to changing behavior, swiftness and certainty of punishment matter more than severity.

Under a reformed system, parolees would be closely monitored for compliance with parole conditions, and any detected violation would be met with immediate and predictable consequences.

There is now experimental evidence from probation that this idea can be put into practice, with dramatic effects. But organizing interlocking public agencies to be able to deliver swift and certain sanctions may pose a larger challenge than getting offenders to comply once such sanctions are in place.

Crime rates in the United States have fallen by nearly half since their highs in the early s but remain substantially elevated from the levels of the s.

In homicide, the United States retains the undesirable distinction of having the highest rates in the developed world. Every year about eight times as many U.

Crime, and especially the most serious kinds of violent crime, remains heavily concentrated among low-status groups.

Criminals and victims alike are far more likely than average to be poor, poorly educated, and black. The disparities are greatest in the case of gang violence, which accounts for a rising share of the total.

Even after the recent crime decline, the fear of crime continues to drive the location decisions of households and businesses, contributing to Problems and challenges facing probation concentrations of poverty that, in turn, help maintain high local crime rates.

The United States now has 2. The failure of parole and other forms of post-incarceration supervision contributes to crime and increases the size of the prison population.

More effective parole could enable the nation to have less crime and less incarceration. The number of felons released on parole will continue to grow, because ever more convicts are being sent to prison and because crowded prisons are being forced to release some of those convicts early in order to meet budget limits and population caps.

The condition of those ex-prisoners after return to civilian life will be, on average, terrible. Many of them will be homeless and will be ineligible for shelter space until they have spent at least one night on the street.

Most of them will have untreated physical illnesses, mental diseases, addiction disorders, or a combination of these. Two-thirds of them will be back behind bars within three years. In addition to their own suffering, released prisoners often also cause suffering to others, most notably the victims of their future crimes.

Public agencies have tried a variety of service-delivery approaches to improve their condition and behavior, none with especially striking success. Among other problems, felony criminal histories render many parolees hard to employ and ineligible for a range of social service programs.

Less attention has been paid to the role of supervision as opposed to services in improving the lives of parolees and the communities to which they return.

Most current systems of supervision perform poorly as measured by the condition and behavior of those subject to them. Not only does parole markedly fail to control the behavior of its clients, it also contributes heavily to the prison-crowding problem by sending so many of them back.

And the high recidivism rate among parolees, while casting doubt on the capacity of incarceration to achieve either deterrence or rehabilitation, also complicates the task of reducing the number of people behind bars: Although the vast majority of offenses result in no punishment, a tiny proportion of them, chosen almost at random by the accidents of the law enforcement process, lead to years of incarceration.

The expected present value of the punishment for street drug dealing or residential burglary, using any reasonable set of valuations and discount rates, far exceeds the quite modest financial rewards: In some markets, retail crack dealers earn less than the minimum wage.

Accordingly, the criminally active population overrepresents not only those with poor noncriminal opportunities, but also the strongly present-oriented, reckless, and impulsive. This latter group has exaggerated versions of the normal human tendencies of the sort studied by psychologists and behavioral economists to give undue weight to the immediate future over the even slightly longer term, and to underweight small risks of large disasters by comparison with high probabilities of small gains.

Thus, efforts to control crime by increasing the severity of punishment will quickly hit the point of diminishing returns. But putting that insight into practice requires more capacity for detecting crime and faster-acting justice mechanisms than the nation currently has or is likely to acquire.

The tension between legal due process and the demand for swift justice is not easily resolved, and the more severe the punishment, the slower the requisite process is likely to be, as the glacial pace of death-penalty litigation illustrates. Unfortunately, the community-corrections system—parole or supervised release for those let out of prison before the expiration of their terms, and probation for those not incarcerated at all or incarcerated only briefly in a jail as opposed to a prison—reproduces the flaws of the broader criminal justice system.Probation officers ensure community safety by providing appropriate supervision of criminal offenders assigned to their caseloads.

When ethical dilemmas arise, probation officers must act appropriately to avoid compromising the integrity of the community supervision system.

Problems and challenges facing probation

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Problems and challenges facing probation
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