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

"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.