Probation and Parole

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Probationand Parole

Crimehas been part of the society since the olden days, and therefore thelaws that deal with criminals were already christened as early as inthe 1750B.C. The laws mainly protected the weak in the societyagainst the perceived strong people. The law would either punish theoffender or make them pay for having done a wrong thing (McAnany,2013). This paper shall discuss a brief history of probation andparole in England and their adoption by the United States.

Thehistory of probation can be traced back to the practices in thejudicial criminal courts in England. Before the adoption ofprobation, the courts punished petty offenders severely and in a veryinhuman manner (McAnany, 2013). People who committed less crimeswould go through sentences such mutilation of the body or whipping.For instance, during the reign of King Henry viii, over 200 crimeswere to be punished by death. However, things changed drasticallyafter a group of English progressive movement concerned with thereformation of laws discarded the inhuman practices and adoptedbetter ways to deal with criminals (McAnany, 2013).

Probationcame with new measures, for example, &quotRelease on recognisance&quotwhich gave the offenders an opportunity to be released on bail asthey await the continuation of the case at a later date. In Englishcourts, the judges had the power to suspend the conviction of alawbreaker temporarily allowing the defendant to appeal the court’sdecision (McAnany, 2013). This was a similar case in the UnitedStates since the Judges had the authority to suspend a sentence togive the offender a chance to appeal the court’s ruling. JohnAugustus, a shoe-maker -philanthropist in Boston is credited as thefather of probation in the United States. In the mid-nineteenthcentury (1841-1859), he bailed out many convicts and further took theresponsibility of giving jobs to them and helping their families(McAnany, 2013). This made the offenders stick to the agreementbetween him/her with the court and therefore many of them reformed.Probation is an effective way of preventing inhuman sentences as aresult of strict judicial systems.

Parole,on the other hand, was developed in the nineteenth century by anEnglishman known as Captain Alexander Maconochie, and an Irishman,Sir Walter Crofton. Before its development, an offender was convictedbased on determined sentences in the judicial system (McAnany, 2013).This involved a lawbreaker serving a specific jail term depending onan individual’s nature of the crime. This led to overcrowding ofprisons and thus forcing the government to release some of theprisoners to create space for the newcomers. Maconochie introduced asystem whereby the offenders did not have to wait until the last dayof their time in prison to be released, but instead some of theprisoners would be released based on a “mark system” (McAnany,2013). This system proposed that the offenders would earn some marksdepending on their hard work and discipline while serving their jailterm. The marks could be used in buying products by the prisoners, orit could as well be used in reducing the period of the prisonsentence of that particular prisoner. “Mark system” made iteasier for many prisoners to be released and most of them had alreadyreformed and had a positive change in behaviour (McAnany, 2013).

Inthe United States, especially in Massachusetts, the earlier forms ofprobation, for example, the release of offenders that show a positivechange in their behaviour is more like the modern bail in the UnitedStates indicating that the earlier laws have significantly influencedthe modern judicial systems. The core principle of probation isupholding the human dignity and thus abandoning the inhumanpunishments by the courts (McAnany, 2013). This very practice can bewitnessed currently in American judicial systems, for instance, thereis widespread use of rehabilitation of offenders as a way of avoidingthe severe punishment of lawbreakers.

Inconclusion, probation and parole have been brought out as judiciallaws that are based on respect for humanity. Probation, for instance,introduced new rules such as bailing of offenders and also givingoffenders a chance to appeal jail sentence. Parole also havedeveloped ways of releasing prisoners who have reformed and showpositive behaviour change.


McAnany,P. D. (2013), `RecommendationsFor Improving The Ailing Probation System`, in Contemporary Issues inCriminal Justice,ed. R. J. Gerber, Kennikat Press, Port Washington, New York.