Probation and Parole Statistics

Probation and Parole Statistics

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1147-3.ch001

Abstract

There are more than 2,000 probation agencies in the United States, and staff in these agencies rely heavily on a long list of case plan agreements to get their clients to obey the laws and other societal rules. Yet, the list of rules, themselves, create overwhelming challenges for those on probation and parole, especially those who suffer from drug addiction, mental illness, and physical and cognitive disabilities. A reduced tax-base reduces federal assistance but at the same time increases the criminal justice system. Thus, funding intended to improve treatment services for those on probation has been used to improve the criminal justice system itself. Unfortunately, residents involved with the criminal justice system have concluded the laws are wholly illegitimate. The opening chapter presents the theme of the book: the cyclical nature of the use of recidivism reduction risk assessment instruments.
Chapter Preview
Top

Probation And Parole Defined

Probation refers to adult offenders for whom the courts place on supervision in the community through a probation agency, generally in lieu of incarceration. Probations can have a number of different supervision statuses including active supervision, which means they are required to regularly report to a probation authority in person, by mail, or by telephone. In many instances, while on probation, offenders are required to fulfill certain conditions of their supervision (e.g., payment of fines, fees or court costs, participation in treatment programs) and adhere to specific rules of conduct while in the community. Failure to comply with any conditions can result in incarceration.

Parole refers to criminal offenders who are conditionally released from prison to serve the remaining portion of their sentence in the community. Parolees can have a number of different supervision statuses including active supervision, which means they are required to regularly report to a parole authority in person, by mail, or by telephone. Some parolees may be on an inactive status, which means they are excluded from regularly reporting, and that could be due to a number of reasons. Other supervision statues include parolees who only have financial conditions remaining, have absconded, or who have active warrants. Failure to comply with any of the conditions can result in a return to incarceration.

(Bureau of Justice Statistics, n.d.)

In 1980, there were 220,438 persons on parole. By 2016, 874,800 were on parole, almost four times as many. Additionally, in 1980, there were 1,118,097 on probation. By 2016, 3,673,100 persons were on probation, over three times as many (The Sentencing Project, 2019). Clearly, parole and probation numbers are increasing. But why? This book attempts to answer this question suggesting two broad overarching themes: failure to implement risk reduction programs and an unhesitating use of a theoretical model that makes a fundamental attribution error of focusing on people to the neglect of the environment in its explanation for the causes of crime and recidivism.

Figure1 graphically demonstrates the growth of the probation and parole population from 1980 to 2016.

Figure 1.

Adults under community supervision

978-1-7998-1147-3.ch001.f01
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics (n.d.)

There are more than 2,000 probation agencies and the structure of probation departments is different depending on the jurisdiction. Probation is useful to the extent to which it diverts those arrested away from incarceration and provides support services.

Probation and parole supervision programs have been supported because they were thought to be a way of reducing the costly expense of incarceration. However, funding intended to improve treatment services has been used to enhance surveillance which now puts as many people in jails and prisons convictions for real criminal behavior. Nowadays, probation and parole officers use a long list of rules to get their clients to avoid incarceration. However, such lists are often difficult for clients; especially those with drug addiction, mental illness, and physical and cognitive disabilities.

Residential segregation and isolation from the social and economic institutions weaken the influence of the larger society on client behaviors. Teenage incarceration has negative effects on employment and a criminal record creates a lifelong barrier to future employment, reducing their choice of avoiding crime. Declining wages for unskilled workers reduce their incentives to avoid punishment. Further, deindustrialization, the restructuring of work, and globalization of the economy combine to undermine their participation in the formal labor force. A reduced tax-base reduces federal assistance and yet, oddly enough, at the same time, increases the correctional industry.

Those involved with the justice system have knowledge of the sanctions, the likelihood of the sanctions and the ability to weigh the severity of the sanctions. However, they have not had a stake in conformity or connectedness to a larger society without justice as its goal. Erroneous arrests undermine assessments of the legitimacy of the legal system, creating ambiguity between “lawbreaker” and “law abider.”

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset