Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What's Changing in Probation?

  What do you think of the branch of Criminal Justice that is the Probation department? Do you feel it is a successful use of resources? How effective is probation, and what may be the reasons why it is or isn't working like it could? Those are just some examples of questions that are often brought up when discussing the career surrounding probation services. Unfortunately I do not have the answer for all of those questions, but I do feel it is effective despite the cartoon below showing what a bulk of the career is made up of.
         One of the reasons I have personally become drawn to this career is for the fact that i initially perceived it to be one that can help rehabilitate people. I believe it gives the probation officer more influence than some teaching careers, for example, which force teachers to fit within a box of rules. The cartoon above shows what I am learning a good majority of time in the career is doing, and that being jumping through hoops of endless paperwork. However, in New York, specifically Harlem, they seem to have had enough of the ineffectiveness and wasting of resources, primarily monetarily. What they are implementing is the new idea of "Satellite Probation Offices". Stop. What do you think that concept means? Your thoughts are probably along the lines of what I thought of when I heard it too. I initially thought it was via technology such as internet, or remote check ins. I was thinking, "great, now they can be committing crimes like smoking weed, while having their monthly or weekly check-in." Much to my joy, as I read the article written by Jacob Hodes in the NY Daily News, what they are doing in Harlem is much different than that. The Satellite offices are actually going to be doing the opposite. Instead of making probationers come downtown to the courthouse to check in periodically, they are planting offices across the city, in hopes of improving both communication and availability of the officers and probationers. Their reasoning is one that i support. They suggest that they are trying to do this primarily for minor offenders who are staying out of trouble. Hodes quotes Catrina Prioleau who says, "“If someone’s not involved in the criminal justice system, we don’t want to keep sending them downtown every week to court.” So instead, they are planting a small team in places like Madison County, which is here in Southern Illinois, or like the most notable one pictured below in Harlem: 

 The W. 127th St. multi-service center in Central Harlem that will house a new satellite Probation Department office.

   In conclusion, I am a big proponent of this idea, because it facilitates more interaction with the offenders, which is ideal and desired for me. I am eager to see how this plays out, because as of now, i cannot find too many negatives with ideas like this! (not counting those extenuating circumstances where the P.O. will succumb to crime for example)


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