Probation and Parole Activities Need to Be Better Managed

GGD-77-55: Published: Oct 21, 1977. Publicly Released: Oct 21, 1977.

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Probation and parole were designed to protect the community by reducing the incidence of criminal acts by previously convicted persons. As of June 30, 1976, about 92,000 offenders were in federal corrections programs; about 64,000 of these offenders were on probation or parole. A review was conducted of the operations of five probation districts--California Central, Georgia Northern, Illinois Northern, Washington, D.C., and Washington Western--to evaluate how the system was providing supervision and rehabilitation services. A sample of both open and closed probation and parole cases was reviewed.

In the closed cases, about half of all offenders removed from supervision either had their probation or parole revoked, had absconded, were convicted of new crimes, or were awaiting trial. In the open cases, a similar trend was developing; however, the final results were not available. The high percentage of offenders convicted of new crimes while under supervision indicates problems either in the selection of offenders to be placed on probation or parole or in the programs for supervising and rehabilitating them, or both. Although probation officer contacts with offenders have increased somewhat, probation officers are not meeting minimum standards established by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Studies have shown that professional treatment of medical, vocational, family, and other problems can help probationers and parolees to move out of the criminal justice system. Federal supervision programs are not providing enough professional treatment, and rehabilitation services often are not available in the community from public service organizations or government programs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrative Office, in cooperation with the Parole Commission and probation officers, should review the present level of supervisory contacts. Definitive guidelines should be issued to probation officers on what parole violations constitute sufficient grounds for the Commission to issue a warrant. The processing time required to issue warrants should be reduced, and the warrantless search and seizure needs of probation officers should be reviewed. District probation offices should improve their rehabilitation programs by preparing rehabilitation plans which translate identified needs into short- and long-term treatment goals for each offender, referring offenders to needed services, and following up to see that offenders receive needed services. The Administrative Office should: (1) evaluate probation district offices routinely for program implementation, effectiveness, and shortcomings; (2) provide written reports to the Judicial Conference and the district chief probation officers of the results of evaluation efforts; and (3) followup to ensure that corrections are made.

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