Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Essay on Parole and Probation

Essay on Parole and Probation

Nowadays there are a lot of different programs which aims at the fulfillment of probation and parole activities and prevention of crimes. But, before discussing them, it is necessary to underline that probation and parole are probably the most effective alternatives to incarceration.

Community Based Corrections are nowadays the basis of parole and probation and the role of communities has increased significantly. As a result nowadays an offender has a chance to be controlled and supervised or even treated by a community and he does not need to remain in prison. However, the development of Community Based Corrections was quite a long and complicated process but nowadays it is considered to be efficient and one of the most perspective directions.

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In general, Community Based Corrections programs have a number of tools, which contribute to the change of offender’s antisocial behavior. As a rule it is highly recommended to use several tools in a combination that increases their effectiveness, while the use of only one tool may be ineffective. On analyzing community correction literature it is possible to find out that criminal sanctions without the delivery of correctional services does not work. What does work is the delivery of appropriate correctional services.

Briefly it is possible to single out the following points of intervention, which produce a positive impact on offender’s behavior: 1) intensive services for high risk clients that utilizes a behavioral approach; 2) targeting criminal attitudes, beliefs, and values that support criminal behavior for change; 3) matching program interventions to the offender’s needs that means that treatment should be individualized rather than using a standardized, one-size-fits all approach; 4) enforcing program and behavioral requirements in a firm and fair manner; 5) utilizing positive role models; 6) providing relapse prevention programming to help clients resist reverting to criminal ways of thinking and behaving.

In principle it is possible the overwhelming majority of the programs have something in common and are close to each other and as a rule the same officer handles both probation and parole cases. Probation allows convicted misdemeanants and felons to remain in the community under supervision while parole releases offenders from prison prior to the expiration of their sentences for supervision in the community. Traditionally offenders undergo classification assessment, case planning and referral to local treatment agencies while the main task of probation/parole officers is to maintain contact with their clients and monitor progress.

Now it is necessary to dwell upon practical side of the question and analyze some examples of the programs that currently exist and it would help develop a new effective program.

Firstly, a program, which is considered to be quite effective, is Drug Court. It is a pilot program in Polk County for non-violent felons and misdemeanants who are on probation and have been arrested on a new charges or have reported violation. Consequently, the program is mainly focused on offenders who have already committed crimes and it is possible to say that the program is limited since it can hardly be used for cases of ‘new criminals’ but still it does not make the program less effective for the cases of recidivism.

The program is controlled by the Court. The clients participating in the program which lasts a year and aims at working out the abilities of clients to find jobs and stay sober. The program starts with up to 30 days of inpatient treatment, followed by a stay in a halfway house. At this respect it should be pointed out that the program combines both juridical and health aspects and permits its clients to be treated.

Also it is necessary to underline that the execution of the program is thoroughly controlled and clients remain under a surveillance so that they have regular drug tests, wear electronic monitoring devices, etc. The Court monitors progress through non-adversarial periodical reviews in the courtroom. The judge hears reports from the probation supervisors, treatment staff, attorneys, and the client. If clients are successful they receive praise and recognition for progress. They also receive a kind of rewards in form of incentives of reduced probation length and elimination of fines and tickets while those who fail to change and continue to violate probation rules can be sent for jails for brief stays and placed in weekend work programs. Thus it is possible to say that the program successfully combines the principles of reward and punishment the latter is used in relation to those who break the rules while the former is used for those who succeeded in the program and what is particularly important is the participation of clients in work programs that teach them to live by their work and not crimes.

Another effective program is the Youthful Offender Program. The program targets young offenders age 16 to 21 which have been charged with their first aggravated misdemeanor or felony in adult court. Obviously it limits the effectiveness of the program since it cannot be expanded on clients older than 21 but at the same time it prevents young people from committing mistakes in their adulthood when they are at the particularly harmful age.

Nonetheless the Youth Offenders Program seems to be more effective than the previous one since it uses a variety of community resources to provide rehabilitation. It is designed to direct the young offender out of the criminal justice system through intervention. The program utilizes substance abuse evaluation and treatment, education, victim offender mediation, community service, mentoring, employment programs, gang awareness education, and case management supervision. What seems to be particularly important about the program is its educational component.

Speaking about a new program, it should be a combination of the two mentioned above and absorb the best qualities of both programs. It means that it should be oriented on all categories of offenders, those who are young and commit their first crime and those who are recidivists. Furthermore, it should include educational component since many, even adult offenders are low-educated people, and often they are forced to commit crimes because they do not have any alternatives. At the same time, education should also be supported practical work, in other words offenders should realize that the education they get could really lead to a normal and better life. Finally, the program should be basically controlled by the community and not the court only. Hopefully, such program could be really effective.
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