Probation and Parole: Supervision
Probation and parole agencies supervise offenders in the community. Once an offender has been granted probation or parole, a probation or parole officer is assigned to supervise the progress of that offender in the community.
There is a conflict over the duty and specificities of supervision. To some, supervision is based upon the casework model where supervision forms the basis of a treatment program. In other words, the parole officer draws up a plan of treatment for the parole based upon his or her character and needs, and, using all the information available and resources at his service, designs a treatment plan. The treatment plan is a combination of the parole's needs (e.g. employment), and ways that the parole can satisfy these needs (e.g. attending a life-skills program). The probation officer's endeavor and strategy will assist the parolee in meeting these needs and in finding and attending the perquisite courses.
Structuring the program is only one part of the job. The probation officer also has to supervise the parole and this is where surveillance comes in: "Surveillance is that activity of the parole officer, which utilizes watchfulness, checking, and verification of certain behavior of a parolee without contributing to a helping relationship with him" (Studt, p. 65).
Some criticize the dual assignments of surveillance and treatment seeing them as contradictory and non-feasible to maintaining, but others see them as complementary. The latter see the Probation officer as having a dual mission: to rehabilitate the offender and help him or her acclimatize to society, whilst, simultaneously, protecting society from possibly harmful, even dangerous, individuals. Surveillance can also be done in a mentoring sort of fashion, in which case surveillance itself becomes a form of rehabilitation.
Offenders are generally given one of three forms of supervision:
1. Minimal i.e. little or no formal reporting is required;
2. Regular -- here the offender reports to the probation officer on a regular schedule, and,
3. Intensive -- where strict and extremely regular reporting sessions are required.
An intensive supervision program is often...
Here surveillance takes an equal stance to rehabilitation, and, in fact, may be often perceived as dominant.
This last stance is often criticized for it is seen as a means to decreasing jail costs and to alleviating the already crowded jail system. Dangerous individuals are a threat to the public, and many people feel that they should receive extended incarceration rather than be liberated.
The probation officer in charge of the intensive surveillance program has a reduced caseload so as to ensure that he can pay maximum attention to his charge, as well as having increased contacts to assist him with his charge. The offender himself has a range of required activities that he is obligated to involve himself in. These may include: community service, victim restitution, employment, random urine and alcohol testing, electronic monitoring, and payment of a probation supervision fee.
Intensive programs vary in type and quantity. Despite their frequency however, they have been repeatedly criticized for the following reasons:
Intensive programs have failed to alleviate prison overcrowding
Most scientific studies on offenders experiencing these programs have found no significant reduction in recidivism rates. In other words they seem to be ineffective.
On the other hand:
Intensive supervision programs appear to be more effective than jail and regular supervision in meeting the offender's needs
Intensive programs that feature certain principles of effective intention do show success in reducing recidivism
These programs still serve as form of intermediate punishment, and,
There seems to be a positive correlation between participation in treatment models and recidivism. In other words, the more types of programs the offender is involved in, the greater the decrease of recidivism.
Sentencing devolves around the type of information presented and considered at sentencing. There are two types:
1. Charge offense sentencing, where the sentence is based primarily upon the individual's transgression, and,
2. Real offense sentencing, where facts that are…
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