The Start of Probation
Probation is still used as part of community corrections and as an alternative to incarceration and through probation an offender can fulfill their sentence two different ways. An offender can be mandated to fulfill their sentence by being placed on probation or an offender can be ordered to be place on pretrial supervision. Probation was first introduced in England during the Middle Ages. During these times cruel and unusual punishments were used for no less than 200 crimes. Most of these crimes were considered minor offenses and people become concerned about the severe punishment of the justice system. Finally, judicial punishment was over turned by the concept of “binding over”, which gave temporary release to offenders and gave them a chance to seek pardons or decreased sentences. In the United States different measures were being developed. Offenders were now able to purchase a “security” which was used as collateral for good behavior such as modern-day bail. Another practice that was being used in the United States was a motion used by judges called a “motion to quash”. This motion would allow judges to diminish unreasonable mandatory sentences. In 1831, the case of Commonwealth v. Chase, introduced the concept of sentence suspension when Judge Peter Oxenbridge Thacher, suspended the case of the defendant, Jerusha Chase, granted that she stayed out of trouble. These practices developed the beginning of modern probation.
John Augustus, is well known as the “Father of Probation,”. Augustus became a member of the Washington Total Abstinence Society and abstained from alcohol use. He truly believed that the alcohol abusers could be rehabilitated without placing them in jails, but by treating them like human beings and showing them kindness and moral support. With his theory in mind Augustus sought a career as a volunteer probation officer which lasted 18-years. John Augustus was able to successfully provide bail for 1,946 men and women by 1858. Augustus’ actions led to the passing of the first probation statute in Massachusetts which authorized the mayor of Boston to appoint a paid probation officer. Soon after many states adopted this statue and by 1956 probation was available to all adult offenders.
The Future of Community Corrections
In the future to enhance the quality of the community corrections the focus would have to be to increase the amount of meaningful contact between the offender, the probation or parole officer and the community. The future of corrections involves increasing the amount of community support for community correctional programs. To gain the public support for community correction programs, the mission and goals of these programs must be clarified. To help with the clarification processes justice reinvestment strategies can be used. According to Clear, T. R., Reisig, M. D., Petrosino, C., ; Cole, G. F. (2017). American Corrections in Brief (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, justice reinvestment “is the idea that the money saved when people are diverted from prison back to those communities ought to be used to make those communities better places for the people who live there—including people who might otherwise be in prison”. This should increase acceptance for community correction amongst the public.
With the growth of American society and an implementation of different morals and values, the evolution of the community correctional system has seen a great amount of change. It is noted that throughout history the idea of correction reform has been and will continue to be a goal for the criminal justice system. America has driven away from the idea of justice and punishment and is seeking the rehabilitation of criminal offenders through defining their needs and treating them. Multiple models have been applied to community supervision and the most promising of them has been allowing probation and parole officers to work with the community to promote public safety and recidivism. The future of the criminal justice system should value quality of community corrections and should stay focused on prisoner reentry.
Community corrections programs oversee offenders outside of jail or prison, and are administered by agencies or courts with the legal authority to enforce sanctions.