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Probation and Parole - General

"Although home visits are seen as a critical tool employed by probation officers, recent evidence demonstrates that home visits are rarely conducted, even for high-risk offenders who might benefit from them the most … Because there are costs (such as probation officer time and safety risks) associated with conducting field work, we need to understand the role of home visits in modern probation agencies and determine best practices of how they should be implemented to meet intended goals. This article highlights the historical importance of home visits as a key element of probation and suggests future avenues to inform the field about their full potential and utility" (p. 32). Sections cover: a brief history of probation—from rehabilitation to crime control and back again; the role of home visits in supporting probation goals; expansion of probation to higher-risk offenders—retaining a role for home visits; and addressing gaps in our knowledge about home visits—officer and offender goals for home visits, opening the "black box" of home visits, impact of home visits on family and communities, dosage—how often and how many home visits are needed, and desistance among high-risk offenders.

 Review of Probation Home Visits: What Do We Know? Cover

This paper will discuss the need for a new model for community corrections that can improve public safety while recognizing that people on probation and parole are members of the communities in which they live and are supervised.

The impact of evidence-based training on the level of probation officers’ (POs) knowledge of “what works” in effective interventions and also on the POs’ attitudes about providing better service are examined. This study shows that “the training had an immediate effect on several indicators regarding knowledge of evidence-based correctional practices, belief in self-efficacy regarding offender change (on the part of probation officers), and an increasing awareness of the importance of core correctional practices and the effectiveness of the IBIS [Integrated Behavioral Intervention Strategies] skills … these changes represent an attitudinal change on the part of the POs who were participating in the training.”

Changing Probation Officer Attitudes: Training Experience, Motivation, and Knowledge Cover

The legal liabilities that probation and parole officers face as they perform their duties are explained. Chapters comprising this publication are: an overview of state and federal legal liabilities; civil liability under state law—state tort cases; civil liability under federal law—Section 1983 cases; legal representation, attorneys’ fees, and indemnification; presentence and preparole investigations and reports; supervision; conditions, modifications, and changes in status; revocation; emerging trends concerning liability of probation and parole officers for supervisors; vicarious liability; direct liability for supervisors; agency liability for acts of supervisors; the nature of inmates’ rights; inmates’ rights at parole release hearings; liability of parole officers for crimes committed by released offenders; immunity for parole board officials; and questions, specific concerns, and general advice.

Civil Liabilities and Other Legal Issues for Probation/Parole Officers and Supervisors: 4th Edition Cover

Offender handbook from the Kentucky Division of Probation and Parole.

This paper will argue that, similar to the growth in prisons that has resulted in our current state of mass incarceration, the tremendous growth in probation supervision in the United States over the past several decades should be reversed, and the entire system of probation significantly downsized.   

Community corrections agencies serve more than half of the corrections population but are generally underfunded. The need to manage increasing caseloads with diminishing resources has driven the field of community corrections to embrace innovations designed to improve the delivery of services. Examples of such innovations include offender location-tracking systems, advanced drug and alcohol testing methods, automated reporting systems, offender computer-monitoring tools, and automated risk and needs assessment instruments. RAND researchers convened an expert workshop of correctional administrators and researchers to explore how such technology and innovations could be used to enhance public safety and improve outcomes for offenders.

The group identified several needs related to developing tools to help the community corrections sector more effectively and more efficiently perform its mission, but the development of tools is only part of the equation: Implementing innovations in a way that maximizes utility can be far more challenging. Although evidence-based community supervision practices can guide the implementation of technology, in most cases, technology far outpaces research or offers possibilities that have yet to be investigated. Therefore, rigorous evaluation of innovations is required to determine their effectiveness. The development of technology solutions and the evaluation of these solutions — such as those prioritized by the workshop participants — can be an essential component of a community corrections system that meets the needs of the public moving forward.

Between 1980 and 2007, probation rates in the United States skyrocketed alongside imprisonment rates; since 2007, both forms of criminal justice control have declined in use. Although a large literature in criminology and related fields has explored the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, very little research has explored the parallel rise of mass probation. This review takes stock of our knowledge of probation in the United States. In the first section, I trace the expansion of probation historically, across states, and for specific demographic groups. I then summarize the characteristics of adults on probation today and what we know about probation revocation. Lastly, I review the nascent literature on the causal effects of probation for individuals, families, neighborhoods, and society. I end by discussing a plan for research and the growing movement to blunt the harms of mass supervision.

In 2012, Missouri established an “earned compliance credits” policy that allows individuals to shorten their time on probation or parole by 30 days for every full calendar month that they comply with the conditions of their sentences.


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