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There are, for example, great differences among states regarding the way in which these systems are managed and the rights and responsibilities of officers for both sectors of the legal system.
In New Jersey, the goal of probation is to promote the reintegration of offenders into the community, while encouraging a responsible, law-abiding lifestyle for such a person (New Jersey Courts, 2013). In total, probation officers are responsible for more than 70,000 adults and 13,000 juveniles. Supervision services are offered for adult and juvenile offenders.
Adult probationers have the opportunity to serve their sentence in the community under the supervision of a probation officer as alternative to sentencing and incarceration. For these offenders, probation officers have a duty to oversee imposed counseling for issues like substance abuse or family problems, as well as any community service to be carried out. The probation officer is also responsible for collecting fines or restitution, as imposed by he court. According to New Jersey Courts (2013), more than $20 million is collected per year from probationers in court-imposed fines.
Juveniles who have committed certain offenses have probational supervision available as a dispositional alternative in the Family Superior Court. These offenders may then remain in heir own community while being supervised by a probation officer. The duties of this officer include monitoring the compliance of the offender to the rules and conditions imposed by a Family Court Judge. For juveniles, conditions can include some form of treatment, restitution and fine payments, or completing educational goals. This kind of supervision includes a much closer connection to the family or guardians of the juvenile, since the probation officer is required to work with parents or guardians, treatment providers, and the school to ensure a successful probation period and ultimate rehabilitation (New Jersey Courts, 2013).
A third component of probation in the state of New Jersey is the intensive supervision program or ISP. Under this program, serious offenders may apply for release under the condition of an intensive monitoring and supervision program. A panel of judges decides whether such a criminal is eligible on the basis of willingness and ability to maintain the strict guidelines of the program.
For juvenile offenders, the juvenile intensive supervision program (JISP) was created to intervene in cases of juvenile delinquency. Intensive community supervision is involved in this program as an early intervention strategy (New Jersey Courts, 2013).
The parole system in the state is managed by the State Parole Board. Decisions regarding parole release is made by the Board's Division of Release. This division maintains offices in each of the 15 correctional facilities in New Jersey, with a total of more than 150 civilian employees. The Division's primary duty is to evaluate and assess adult incarcerated offenders and determine their eligibility for parole release. The state's incarcerated offenders come to approximately 27,000, each of which must be assessed by the Division (State of New Jersey, 2013).
The Division of Release also includes parole counselors, who facilitate parole decisions for offenders. The primary duty involved in this process is that counselors are to calculate the Parole Eligibility Date (PED) under State law for each offender. In terms of this finding, the parole counselor is then to make sure that each inmate's possible release is processed in a timely way. Part of this is ensuring that the necessary documents and information are available for parole hearings. Counselors also work with inmates themselves to ensure they understand the parole process and requirements.
Unless an inmate was sentenced to a period of parole ineligibility, parole becomes a possibility after a third of the sentence has been served. After this sentence period, the inmate is subjected to a parole hearing, after which the parole decision is made. Release is subject to supervision by a parole officer.
Before such a decision is made, however, the hearing process includes a number of steps, the first of which is an initial hearing. The Division of Release conducts a preliminary review of an inmate's eligibility for parole. To do this, hearing officers review reports on the offender's criminal history, social, physical, educational, and psychological progress, and assesses the risks and needs of he offender. Eh case is then summarized and offered to the Parole Board for review. This is followed by the panel hearing.
The panel includes two members of the Parole Board, whose duty it is to grant or deny parole. This decision is also subject to the time at which the crime was committed. Fro crimes committed on or after August 19, 1997, an adult inmate has the right to parole under the Parole Act unless he or she has failed to cooperate with the rehabilitation process or if there is a high likelihood of violating the conditions of parole. When a crime has been committed before this date, the Act requires granting parole unless there is a high likelihood that the inmate will commit a new crime once released (State of New Jersey, 2013).
In New Jersey, crime victims are also allowed to provide input for the Board Panel's decision. This information is kept strictly confidential, and the parolee is not informed whether the victim chose to provide testimony. Testimony can be given in writing or during a confidential hearing.
On the strength of the evidence collected by means of documents and during hearings, the Parole Board makes a decision to grant or deny parole. If parole is denied, the inmate is given a Future Eligibility Term (FET), meaning that a period of further incarceration is required before the inmate becomes eligible for parole again. At such a time, all the components of the hearing process is repeated.
If parole is granted, special conditions for parole are determined in addition to the standard conditions for all parolees. Special conditions may include seeking employment, submitting to substance tests, or substance abuse counseling, depending on the risk factors determined during the hearing process. The parolee could also be required to submit to specific programs under the State Parole Board's Division of Community Programs.
Finally, the inmate attends a session with parole counselors or parole officers to review the conditions of parole and create a discharge plan. Discharge then includes supervision by a parole officer, who ensures that the conditions of the parole are met and maintained (State of New Jersey, 2013).
The main difference between parole and probation in the State of New Jersey is therefore that parole is granted after part of a prison sentence has been served, whereas probation is generally an alternative to prison. The fact that parole is granted to inmates of the prison system creates the conception that such supervision is somewhat more dangerous than that provided by a probation officer. Hence, probation officers are generally not granted the right to carry a firearm in New Jersey.
In New Jersey, for example, Kiminski (2007, p. 1359) notes that the Supreme Court unanimously found against upholding the Probation Officer Safety Community Act. Under the act, probation officers were allowed to carry firearms. The Act, implemented by the New Jersey Legislature, provided for a special unit of probation officers to be authorized to carry firearms and arrest probation violators. Such rights are also held by probation officers in some other states, especially where the probation and parole divisions of law enforcement are integrated.
The Supreme Court ruling was based upon the complaint that the Act was unconstitutional, because I was a violation of the exclusive powers of the judiciary, where Act was implemented in violation of the right of this branch of government to make decisions regarding the rights of probation officers in the state. In other words, the main issue was the separation of powers among different branches of the government.
This, of course, has significantly complicated the debate around whether to integrate the probation and parole boards in the state. The matter might be highlighted significantly by means of some statistics. In new Jersey, more or less 130,000 adults and 20,000 juveniles are under probation supervision (Morton, n.d.). These persons form part of the more than 4 million strong population under probation supervision in the United States as a whole.
Although the overall crime rate has dropped, he number of dangerous and repeat offenders under probation in New Jersey has continued to grow, increasing the burden on the states probation officers. In addition, these officers are faced with challenges such as absconding probationers. Compared to the national figure of 11%, probationers in New Jersey who abscond come to as high as 25%, or some 30,000 probationers throughout the state.
Morton (n.d.) also notes that offenders under supervision of probation tend to be placed under such supervision for he same or a similar level of criminal activity as those under the care of parole officers. Yet, as seen above, only parole officers and federal probation officers in New Jersey are permitted to carry a firearm in the state. Further, bench warrants…[continue]
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