Put simply, probation is the suspension of a jail sentence. An alternative to serving time in prison, probation allows a person who has been convicted of a crime to return to the community for a period of time in which they have to abide by certain rules and conditions set forth by the court. During the probation period, the convicted person must report to a probation or parole officer, who is responsible to ensure that all terms of the sentence are being lawfully followed.
In most cases, a probation officer is responsible for supervising defendants who have not yet been sentenced to incarceration, or the specific details of their sentence have not been fully finalized. Parole officers, on the other hand, monitor previously incarcerated offenders who are allowed to serve the remainder of their jail sentence in the community due to their good behavior while serving time in prison.
First developed in Massachusetts in 1880, probation and parole were a humanitarian effort to let first timers and minor offenders have a second chance. The role of the probation or parole officer has changed throughout the decades, especially with recent developments in the field of psychology. From the 1920s to the 1950s, a parole officer’s job was to ensure that the convicted person led a morally acceptable life. The officer’s role transitioned into more of a support role by the 1960s, and officers helped offenders with concrete social services, including job placement, housing, and education. The officer’s role changed again in the 1970s, shifting from helper to enforcer. Officers now work with a particular emphasis on risk management, minimizing the chance that a convicted person will commit another crime.
For more information about probation, call the San Jose Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Law Office of Daniel Jensen at (408) 296-4100 today.