Probation as a means of Punishment

One of the most disastrous things for society is a crime, but unfortunately, it has become an integral part of society despite its dire consequences. To get rid of them and make people aware of the severity of their consequences, we have different laws imposed by our judicial system. The primary objective of these laws is to punish wrongdoers and discourage their shameful acts. These punishments vary according to the crime and the criminal. One of them is probation.

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What is Probation?

Probation refers to the criminal sentence in which the criminal is not kept in prison during the sentence period. Instead, they are kept under the supervision of a correction officer who serves as a probation officer. He oversees the offender and helps him improve himself to become an active member of society soon.

Probation can be defined into two types, namely supervised and unsupervised probation. As the name refers, supervised probation refers to the one where a correction officer supervises the offender continuously. On the other hand, unsupervised probation does not involve the supervision of an officer.

Conditions of probation

Probation does not mean freedom. Although the offender stays out of prison, he is still kept under strict observation and has to abide by certain rules defined by the court. Here are some of the conditions necessary to observe during the probation period.

  • The offender must abide by all court orders; otherwise, he can be held accountable for breaching court orders.
  • He must report to the probation officer regularly.
  • The person will have to enrol in a rehabilitation centre to improve his conduct.
  • He must not commit any crime during probation.
  • If the offender is a drug addict, he must get rid of his addiction by going to a rehabilitation centre.
  • He must work on self-betterment and get some employment to make the most of his skills and earn a livelihood.
  • The offender is usually not allowed to go out of a certain territory and has to complete the probation in a defined geographic area.
  • The offender must pass a drug test.
  • If necessary, he must seek treatment (physical or psychological).
  • He has to submit a DNA symbol and be registered as a sex offender in case of a relevant crime.
  • He must stay away from other criminals.

Benefits of Probation

Probation has always been a topic of discussion, and people have mixed opinions about it. Following are the benefits that make it effective as a means of punishment.

Cost-effective

From the perspective of the government, this form of punishment is cost-effective. It saves funds that are otherwise spent on a prisoner’s food, clothing and living. The more the prisoners, the more police officers are needed to overlook them. Their salaries are also an expense for the government. This puts a burden on taxpayers. In the case of minor crimes, this is a better option than imprisonment.

Less Crowded Prisons

When the crime rate increases in an area, their prisons become overcrowded. People with less serving times create a shortage of space for offenders with serious crimes and long imprisonment periods. Prison expansion is a huge expenditure, besides catering to many prisoners. Probation resolves the issue of crowded prisons and creates room for those who deserve the most to be there.

Means to self-improvement

Probation allows offenders to become a part of the community again after improving themselves. This is a great step towards the betterment of society. It motivates offenders to show their productivity and merit to return to the community. On the other hand, a person behind bars has no hope to come out, and thus they make no effort to show any improvement in themselves. Probation leads citizens to become more productive and become taxpayers.

Close supervision

Offenders on probation remain under the strict supervision of police during the rehabilitation process. It refrains them from indulging in any criminal activity and adds to the safety of society.

Cons of Probation

There are some downsides of probation as a means of punishment. They make it less preferred than imprisonment and other punishments. Here are some of them.

Increased risk to the society

When offenders and criminals are left free to indulge with common people, it poses a threat to the members of society. They remain in the fear of becoming a victim of their crimes. Although they are kept under supervision, it still gives no assurance that the crime will not happen again.

High crime rates

Probation can become a hurdle in the way of decreasing the crime rate in society. When criminals are left on their own, they are more likely to commit the crime again; this way, it becomes nearly impossible to stop them.

Safety risks for probation officers

Since probation officers are responsible to keep an eye on the offenders and meet them in a casual setting, it becomes threatening for them to protect themselves. They become an open target for their revenge or anger. It is important to think about their safety as a priority.

Bottom line

People have varied views about probation, for all the good reasons. It has become a popular means of punishment due to its characteristics. However, it is necessary to keep an eye on its downsides also and try to reduce or remove them. The objective of punishment is to make the offender realize and repent his crime and refrain him from committing it again. Any means of punishment that fulfils this goal can be adopted as far as it does not violate basic human rights.

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