Probation has been used as an alternative form of punishment for the past 150 years. In the state of Georgia, probation is used more than any other state (Justice Center). In 2015, 481,339 offenders were on probation (Bureau of Justice Statistics). “Probation is a prison sentence that is suspended on the condition that the offender follow certain prescribed rules and commit no further crimes” (Seiter, p.91, 2017). Research indicates that the use of probation is an effective tool, which reduces the burgeoning effect on the prison system. According to Seiter, (2017) there were 2,228,400 offenders in prison and jails across the U.S. in 2012. That same year there were 3,942,800 offenders serving on probation (Seiter, 2017). Not only does probation work as a means to reduce overcrowding, but it is also an effective cost-saver. “Recent estimates are that the average per day cost to incarcerate a prison inmate is over $85, and only $3.42 per day for community supervision. Crunching the numbers, that’s a saving of $175,929,624 per year.
Critics of probation like to cite the lack of evidence in the effectiveness of probation in its role of reducing recidivism. “…The most recent report on probation in the United States, [indicated] 68 percent of offenders exiting probation during 2012 were successful completions, while 15 percent were incarcerated, and another 12 percent either absconded or had other unsatisfactory exits from supervision” (Seiter, p.99, 2017).
Probation, as we saw in our textbook was starting in the 1840’s. It started with very low numbers of offenders enrolled in the program and it continued to grow at an alarming rate. By 2012, they had almost 5 million offenders enrolled. We see that according to our textbook probation is defined as “a prison sentence that is suspended on the condition that the offender follows certain prescribed rules and commit no further crimes.” (Seiter,2017, p.91). Offenders enter the system on a preliminary basis if they happen to commit a crime or not follow the rules assigned to them they will go right back to Prison.
The system as a whole I believe is working but just like with anything it is up to the individual if the really want to change or not. There is also always something that we can all improve if it isn’t working. I personally believe that if the Probation Officer really takes time and invests in each of the offenders that he works with then he can really help people change. On the other end if the offenders are just “a number” then they will lack the impact that they can really make on the offenders.
In New York where I reside, I am not too knowledgeable about the Probation System in general. I do see that individual’s just like I said above will have to want to change themselves in order to really change. To me, this old quote comes to mind that I always heard growing up “Rules without relationship breeds rebellion.” It is very true today if you have all rules with the offenders and no real relationship with the offenders then you can never really impact and change their lives.