The Role of Probation and Parole in Criminal Justice

Parole and probation are privileges that allow offenders to avoid jail or be released after serving only part of their sentences. The objectives of these two systems are to rehabilitate offenders and guide them back to society, while minimizing the likelihood that they will commit a new crime. Broadly speaking, our probation and parole systems began in the 19th century as a system of community support. People from the local area would come forward to assure the court or prison that they could help people convicted of crimes to live legally outside of jail or prison.

In recognition of the critical work of probation, parole and community oversight officials, Governor Hochul declared July 17-23 as the Week of Pre-Trial Supervision, Parole and Parole. This was followed by the shipment of weapons to probation and parole officers, which completed their transition from service orientation to identification as law enforcement. This essay is part of the Brennan Center series that examines the excessive punishment that has come to define the criminal legal system in the United States. In addition to having their probation or parole revoked, offenders may face additional criminal charges for possession of illegal drugs, weapons, or stolen merchandise.

Probation and parole officers generally have similar educational backgrounds and generally have college degrees in criminal justice, behavioral science, or social work. Since many political campaigns used the slogan “a heavy hand against crime”, and as federal and state legislatures and agencies introduced changes in laws and policies, the resulting climate affected the actions and decisions of judges and probation boards. Because the concept of convicted felons living in the community can be controversial, it's important to understand the functional differences between probation and parole. This led to the passage of tougher sentencing laws, including the recategorization of crimes so that they could be incarcerated, the criminalization of more types of conduct, and longer prison sentences.

While this has begun to change in recent years, governors often held probation board seats with political allies with little education or experience in criminal justice. Through an online criminal justice degree from Maryville University, students can discover what defines each role and prepare for work serving others in the judicial system. While behavior is certainly a factor, probation boards consider many other factors, such as the inmate's age, marital and parental status, mental state, and criminal history. Parole and probation are privileges rather than rights that allow convicted felons to avoid going to prison or serving only part of their sentences.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals from illegal searches and seizures by law enforcement officers and does not extend to people on probation or parole.

Luis Mersinger
Luis Mersinger

Devoted internet enthusiast. Evil internet geek. General pop culture enthusiast. Extreme web specialist. Typical internet aficionado. Alcohol guru.

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