What is Probation Good For Anyway?
The probation service is a community corrections function of the federal judiciary system that serves the United States district courts. Under this system offenders are allowed to pay for their crimes using a term of probation instead of a jail sentence. They may also be released from jail early to spend the remainder of their sentence under probation. Probation can be under direct supervision by a probation officer or unsupervised. Probation is offered to both adult and juvenile offenders. The probation service is in place to accomplish a set of aims and objectives. These objectives are accountability, safety, rehabilitation and reintegration.
The probation service strives to lead the probationer to become accountable for his or her actions. Often times an offender will blame family, friends and society for their crimes. Serving a probationary sentence helps him or her to realize that they must take responsibility for their own actions. This can be achieved through visits with a probation officer, fees and other disciplinary actions. Once a defendant learns that life circumstances are not a valid reason for criminal activity they begin to acknowledge their own accountability. This especially relevant in juvenile probation cases.
Safety is a main objective in the probationary services. Safety for both the probationer and the public at large. Subjecting a petty thief or small time criminal to jail or prison time is not beneficial. Serving a probationary sentence allows the defendant to remain out of jail and the dangers it presents. It also protects the community by imposing rules, regulations and curfews on the defendant that stops them from repeating their crimes and getting into further trouble. For instance, DUI (driving under the influence) offenders will be sentenced to a specific amount of time without being able to drive.
Probation serves as a rehabilitative resource through educational programs and the completion of the probation sentence itself. These programs can be provided for family members as well as the probationer. Rehab programs in the probation service can include drug programs, job training, life skills classes and any number of programs the court may impose during the sentencing process. Rehabilitation is achieved through these programs but also by completion of the probationary sentence. Probationers are informed that once they have been given a deferred sentence of probation and are able to stay out of jail, any instance of future criminal behavior may result in serving the entire jail sentence.
Successful reintegration an offender back into society as a productive, responsible citizen is the ultimate goal of the probation service. Successful completion of all other probationary goals must be achieved before reintegration can be considered complete. An offender must display accountability, rehabilitation and a desire to remain clear of any criminal activity to successfully be reintegrated into society.
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