Friday, January 22, 2010

Probation

Probation

Importance of Probation

Probation methods represent a distinct break with the classical theory of criminal law for here an attempt is made to deal with the offenders as individuals rather than as classes and to select certain offenders who can be expected to change their attitudes and habits with assistance while residing in the free community and to use punitive methods of rendering assistance.

What is Probation?

Probation is the suspension of a sentence during a period of liberty in the community condition upon the good behaviour of the convicted offender. It is thus a substitute to imprisonment. The Court and Probation Board looks after probation work. In many states probation is granted after the conviction for an offence. Before a person is placed on probation an investigation of character and the conditions of his crime is generally made. Probation is used as a substitute for discharging without supervision and imprisonment. The terms of probation are generally fixed by the court and Probation Board. They include observance of all laws, good habits, keeping good company, regular reports as required, regular work or school attendance, payment of fines or reparation, abstinence from the use of alcohol and drug, avoidance of unnecessary debts, living in a specified place, not marrying or divorcing, etc. a probationer may be required to undergo specific medical or psychiatric treatment. The maximum probation period is generally fixed by law and is the same as the maximum prison sentence for the offence. The probation officer informs the court if the probationer breaks the condition of probation.

Procedure or Probation

After he has been granted probation a probationer is assigned to a specified probation officer who administers the probation programme Contacts between the probation officer and his ward are made either in his officer or to the home of the probationer. Home visits are regarded as more effective. Probations are to report to the probation officer at regular intervals. The probationer is both supervised and guided towards non criminality. The objective of probation work is to change the attitude of probationers. The procedure for modifying attitudes consists essentially in arranging the person’s group relations. In order to be effective the policy of probation must be implemented by organizations of the local community, counselling by the probation officer and the receptivity and attitude of society especially that of the intimate groups like family and neighbourhood towards the probationer. Probation is the only method which totally avoids the punitive reaction as the only method which a released criminal has to cope with.

Modern notions of crime and criminality aim at reform and rehabiliation of criminals and correctional measures consist of parole, probation, juvenile reformatories, minimum security prisons, adult reformatories etc. But the defect in the correctional administration many a time mars the very purpose of correction which aims at the rehabilitation of the criminal into social life and the preparation of proper social environment for him. As a result of the constant clamour by reformers and the defects observed in the actual correctional practices welfare minded government have introduced measures which aim at establishing better relations between prisoner and his parole officer or prison guard. The defects lay in the selection of the parole and probation boards, absence of proper case work, terms of parole etc. Today the rules regarding parole and probation have been further elaborated and clear guidelines have been laid down. Suitable qualifications which mainly include proper counselling aptitude have been elaborately laid down and strictly adhered to in the selection of parole and probation officers. Further the implications of parole and probation have been made widely known and the parole officer is a friend, philosopher and guide to the prisoner. Proper checks and counterchecks have been provided in the internal working of probation and parole mechanisms. The conditions of parole have been further simplified. Proper placement of the prisoner in gainful employment is a necessary condition of probation and parole. Emphasis is given to the proper training which includes human relations and social work as its essential parts. Proper reforms have also been made in the prison administration where the prison guard today is the nominal supervisor of prisoner’s activities. The period of parole and probation has been considerably reduced and parole is treated only as a connecting link between the prison and the open society. Proper record is kept of the prisoner’s behaviour and the prisoner is encouraged to gain as much as possible for good behaviour to speeden his release. Individual case work is given all the importance and social workers help in the process. Parole officer is generally a Social Worker.

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