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UNDERLYING ISSUES IN PROBATION AND PAROLE

Introduction

Law scholars trace the background of probation and parole from the English Criminal Justice guidelines of the middle ages (David et al, 2013). Before granting probation, the English Criminal Law required prisoner’s pledge to meet certain conditions during the probation period. These conditions include, obeying the law and avoiding criminal activities, offering community service in community or government institution, reporting regularly to the probation officers, avoiding contact with the victim among others (Sunga, 2010).

The law considered those serving probation and parole as still serving their sentences. Therefore, the law considered any violation of the parole conditions as breaking the law rendering the offender back to prison. Therefore, a new problem of repeat offenders emerged. Repeat offenders served longer period in prison for violating probation requirements (Sunga, 2010).

The modern probation systems have various similarities with the ancient English Criminal Law including the above. The United States of America has a modern probation and parole system with the above similarities. However, various factors have influenced changes to the American parole and probation laws. These include the high rate of crime, sophisticated crimes, huge cost of managing the probation system, recidivism, and congested prisons (Richard, 2014).

Probation in the United States began in Boston in 1841 with a man charged with drunkardness in reference to Boston Law. John Augustus posted a bail to secure the release of the common drunk. John Augustus was a boot maker. He was also religious and of financial means. He had the willingness and ability to bail and support offenders. On the day of sentencing, Augustus pleaded with the Judge to release the man instead of sentencing him for three weeks. Augustus assured the judge of his help to reform the man. At the end of the probationary period, the man convinced the judge of his reformed life therefore securing a little fine (Elizabeth, 2007).

Usually, Augustus bailed minor offenders and first time offenders who were not wholly depraved. He offered them a place to live, employment, or education. During his work, he met various challenge including criticism from police who wanted offenders punished and not helped. However, after bailing over 1800 persons and successfully reforming them, the judge and the police appreciated the effectiveness of his innovation thus accepting the notion that not all offenders needed jailing to reform (Friedman, 2010).

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