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Probation, Corrections, and Parole
Probation is a sentence imposed by the courts that allows offenders to serve their time in the community. During probation, offenders must abide by certain directives set forth by the court. These orders can include maintaining employment, abiding by a curfew, living where directed, abstaining from unlawful behavior, refraining from contacting victims, refraining from the use of alcohol or other drugs (with an agreement to submit to random testing), and following the probation officer's orders.78
Read on for information about
What Probation Officers Do
Probation officers supervise offenders through personal contact and by communicating with their families. Frequently, officers meet with offenders in their homes, workplaces, or possibly a location where offenders receive mental health treatment. Some probationers wear electronic devices so probation officers can monitor their whereabouts 24 hours a day.
Probation officers also work for the courts before sentencing. They investigate the backgrounds of the accused, write pre-sentence investigation reports, and recommend sentences. Probation officers may be required to testify in court about their reports and sentencing recommendations or they may attend court hearings to update the judges on offenders' efforts at rehabilitation and compliance with the terms of their sentences.79
The process of collecting background data on an offender is called a pre-sentence investigation. Generally, the background information includes a description of the offense, harm suffered by the victim, and sentencing recommendations. Sentencing recommendations usually take into consideration the defendant's
- Criminal convictions.
- Time spent in the community.
- Work, medical, substance abuse, and psychological or psychiatric histories.
- Educational background.
- Marital status.
They may also consider victim impact statements.
Presentence Investigation (see chapter 4).
How They Help Victims
Probation agents are primarily responsible for assessing the risk that offenders may pose to victims and the community and for recommending how that risk should be contained. To help victims, probation officers can
Promising Victim-Related Practices and Strategies in Probation and Parole Addresses ways probation and parole offices can balance their traditional approach of offender-directed mandates with today's requirements for addressing the specific needs of victims.
- Contact victims as part of the pre-sentence investigation.
- Ask victims how they feel about restitution and community service sanctions.
- Determine how best to ensure victims' safety.
- Monitor and supervise offenders on probation to ensure full compliance with all conditions of probation.
- Notify victims of changes in or violations of probation.
- Develop policies, programs, and protocols that hold offenders accountable and enhance victims' rights and services.
Upon a probationary disposition of criminal sexual conduct, Ramsey County Community Corrections (Minnesota) will provide the following victim services:
- Ascertain the identity and location of victims—if victims are not available, request Ramsey County Attorney's Office Victim-Witness Advocates to forward information to victims.
- Provide victims with the probation agent's contact information.
- Notify victims of any relevant conditions of the offender's probation.
- Determine if victims want to be notified of an offender's release or relocation.
- Monitor no-contact orders.
- If restitution is ordered, incorporate the payment schedule into the probation agreement and continue the offender's obligation to pay restitution to the victim through the term of the probation.
Source: Ramsey County Sexual Assault Protocol Team, Ramsey County Adult Sexual Assault Response Protocol, Version 2, 2004, 13.