Probation is a supervision period that is ordered by the court to supervise an offender while living in the community instead of serving in prison. Probation enables a person (who has been convicted of a crime) to remain working in the community and not go to jail. It requires this person to comply with specific rules and conditions ordered by the court and should be under the probation officer’s supervision.
In certain jurisdictions, the term probation only applies to the community sentences which are alternatives to incarceration, like the suspended sentences. In others, however, the term is inclusive of the act of supervising the individuals who are conditionally released on parole.
The persons released on probation must not own firearms and may be ordered by the court to participate in educational programs or remain employed. They may also be required to abide by the imposed curfews, obey probation officers’ orders, and never leave town. These persons may also be ordered to refrain from meeting up with known criminals, especially co-defendants. They must not be in contact with potential victims of similar crimes. For instance, they are not allowed near minors (child sexual abuse offenses) or to be in contact with the victim (domestic violence offenses).
Offenders are also asked to refrain from possessing or using drugs and alcohol and ordered to take or submit drug/alcohol tests. They may also be fitted with a monitor or an electronic tag that indicates their movement patterns to the relevant officials. Defendants are permitted by some courts to perform limited forms of community service to help them raise money to offset their probation fines.
Probation will also bridge the gap between the community and the offender. It speeds up acceptance now that the offender is seen around making a positive difference in his life and positively impacting society. Isolation from the wrong crowd will help the offender to view life from a different perspective. Similarly, the educational or rehabilitation programs he engages in will change his lifestyle and perception while bringing out positivity in terms of attitude and state of mind.
Parole and probation are quite similar since both are concerned with the offender dropping bad behavior or habits that led them to break the law. Both parole and probation contain a strong aspect of rehabilitation, and each process provides extra measures to help protect the community.
Parole or probation can be changed or amended depending on the intensity or nature of the offense. For instance, an offender convicted of child molestation may be ordered never to visit playgrounds or parks where children frequent.
The primary purpose of placing an offender on probation is to prevent further criminal behavior, provide rehabilitation opportunities for the offender, and to punish the offender in general. Parole possesses an additional function, which is to aid in the reintegration of an offender into the society.