State and County Probation:

Systems in Crisis

GGD-76-87: Published: May 27, 1976. Publicly Released: May 27, 1976.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Probation activities were reviewed to see if they were being managed effectively. GAO wanted to determine: (1) whether the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), the States, and the county probation departments were addressing the problems of developing probation systems that insure the public's safety and enable offenders to remain in the community and receive rehabilitation services; (2) how much the services received by probationers increased their chances of successfully completing probation; (3) whether systems existed to identify individuals with good chances of completing probation and remaining out of contact with the criminal justice system and how such systems could be used to improve probation operations.

State and county probation systems are not adequately protecting the public; the majority of probationers do not sucessfully complete probation. Probation systems are overburdened. Since most offenders are sentenced to probation, probation systems must receive adequate resources. The priority assigned to probation in the criminal justice system must be reevaluated.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: New ideas and more positive leadership are needed to improve probation at the State and local levels. If no action is taken, probation systems will continue to be overburdened and will deteriorate further, increasing the dangers to society. The Attorney General should direct the Administrator, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, to implement GAO recommendations so that: (1) States develop minimum standards covering such areas as workload and need for pre-sentence reports; (2) probation predictive models are used more frequently; (3) information systems are improved; (4) probationers receive needed services; (4) States better identify probation problems; (5) better technical assistance is given; and (6) more funds controlled by the agency are spent to improve probation.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Mar 20, 2018

Mar 13, 2018

Mar 12, 2018

Feb 15, 2018

Feb 8, 2018

Feb 2, 2018

Jan 8, 2018

Dec 21, 2017

Dec 13, 2017

Nov 6, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here