What Factors You Should Consider About Probation

There are many variables that determine if an offender is eligible for probation.  The final say on the matter is up to the judge doing the sentencing.  While there are many who support the whole concept of probation and the opportunities it provides, there are those who oppose probation as well.  There are sound reasons for both sides.

Some Oppose Probation

The whole subject of probation as a means of adequate punishment is often debated.  This is usually the case in sensitive matters where people believe their family’s safety or their own is in jeopardy.  For example, the California Triggerlock law recieved an extreme amount of controversy.  This gun law in the state of California had a lot of pros and cons and staunch supporters on both sides.  To some people, the issue of probation for offenders is just as serious as the issue of firearms.

There are those who oppose the ideal of giving probation instead of jail time.  They believe it is simply a way of letting criminals off the hook for the offenses they commit.  Supporters like the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) believe: “Incarceration may be destructive and should be imposed only when necessary.”  The APPA acknowledges factors that are of considerable significance to probation.

Facts You Should Know

It is important to recognize a few facts about qualifying for probation.  Not every criminal offender is automatically eligible.  A person may receive probation if they are a first time offender, if their crime is a minor nonviolent offense, or if they are not viewed as a threat to the community.  Any one (or more) of these variables may exist, however, the best chance for probation is if all three apply.  Judges also view any extenuating circumstances pertaining to each individual case.

Significance of Probation

Some question the significance of probation because it appears to only help the offender, and oftentimes not even them.  To fully appreciate the purpose of probation requires looking at factors such as housing inmates and rehabilitating criminals.  Overcrowded jails and prisons have become a prominent reason for court ordered probation on minor offenses.  Probation removes the state’s financial burden of housing additional inmates.  Additionally, the whole focus of probation is to attempt to rehabilitate first time offenders, so they do not become repeat offenders.

Types of Probation

In Texas and most other states, “…juvenile probation is locally administered at the county level.  Usually, probation for adults can range from the county to the federal level depending on the crime.  According to the United States Courts, in federal matters, the Probation and Pretrial Services division acts as the “…eyes and ears” of the courts.”  Common types of probation include Supervised Probation, Community Control and House Arrest.  Offenders must report regularly to a probation officer for supervised probation. Community Control and House Arrest methods for monitoring offender’s whereabouts include ankle monitoring devices that must be removed by authorities.

Warnings

Typically, probation can extend anywhere from 6 months to 5 years.  Standard terms of probation include: paying fines and court costs, becoming gainfully employed and staying out of trouble and away from criminal elements (such as ex-convicts).  Depending on the crime, other requirements may include participating in community service or group programs such as substance abuse or anger management.  Offenders must comply with all rules to prevent having probation revoked and the original jail term carried out. 

Resource

Understanding the California Triggerlock Law

American Probation and Parole Association

United States Courts

El Paso County

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