AskDefine | Define probationary

Dictionary Definition

probationary adj : under terms not final or fully worked out or agreed upon; "probationary employees"; "a provisional government"; "just a tentative schedule" [syn: provisional, provisionary, tentative]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Of, pertaining to, or subject to probation

Extensive Definition

Probation is the suspension of a jail sentence - the criminal who is "on probation" has been convicted of a crime, but instead of serving jail time, has been found by the Court to be amenable to probation and will be returned to the community for a period in which they will have to abide to certain conditions set forth by the Court under the supervision of a probation officer. General conditions may include maintaining employment, abiding to a curfew, living where directed, abstaining from unlawful behavior, following the probation officer's orders, not absconding, and refraining from contact with other individuals, who may include victims of the original crime (such as a former partner in a domestic violence case), potential victims of similar crimes (such as minors when the crime involves child sexual abuse), potential witnesses, or those who have partnered with the offender in the earlier crime.
Usually the offender is supervised by a probation officer, to monitor their performance during the probation period. The probation officer helps the offender to adapt to living in the community; to guide and help them to behave in a lawful and responsible way.

History of probation: origins and evolution

The concept of probation, from the Latin word probatio - meaning testing period - has historical roots in the practice of judicial reprieve. In English Common Law the Courts could temporarily suspend the execution of a sentence to allow the defendant to appeal to the Crown for a pardon. Probation first developed in the United States when John Augustus, a Boston boot maker, persuaded a judge in the Boston Police Court in 1841 to give him custody of a convicted offender, a "drunkard," for a brief period and then helped the man to appear rehabilitated by the time of sentencing. Even before John Augustus, the practice of suspended sentence was used as early as 1830, in Boston, Massachusetts and became widespread in U.S. Courts, although there was no statutory authorization for such a practice. At first, judges, most notably Peter Oxenbridge Thatcher of Boston, used "release on recognizance" or bail and simply failed to take any further legal action. In 1878 the mayor of Boston hired a former police officer, one "Captain Savage," to become what many recognzie as the first official probation officer. By the mid-19th century, however, many Federal Courts were using a judicial reprieve to suspend sentence, and this posed a legal question. In 1916, the United States Supreme Court held that a Federal Judge (Killets) was without power to suspend a sentence indefinitely, which is known as the Killets Decision. This famous court decision led to the passing of the National Probation Act of 1925, thereby, allowing courts to suspend the imposition of a sentence and place an offender on probation.
Massachusetts developed the first state wide probation system in 1880, and by 1920, 21 other states had followed suit. With the passage of the National Probation Act on March 5, 1925, signed by President Calvin Coolidge, the U.S./Federal Probation Service was established to serve the U.S. Courts. On the state level, pursuant to the Crime Control and Consent Act passed by Congress in 1936, a group of states entered into agreement by which they would supervise probationers and parolees for each other. Known as the Interstate Compact For the Supervision of Parolees and Probationers, the agreement was originally signed by 25 states in 1937. In 1951, all the states in the United States of America had a working probation system and ratified the Interstate Compact Agreement. In 1959, the newly adopted states, Alaska and Hawaii, in addition the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the territories of Guam and American Samoa ratified the act as well.
Probation began as a humanitarian effort to allow first-time and minor offenders a second chance. Early probationers were expected not only to obey the law but also to behave in a morally acceptable fashion. Officers sought to provide moral leadership to help shape probationers' attitudes and behavior with respect to family, religion, employment, and free time. They aimed to ensure that this was enforced as well, and early probationers were given the opportunity to prove themselves and possibly even reduce their sentence.
During the 1920s through the 1950s, the major developments in the field of psychology led probation officers to shift their emphasis from moral leadership to therapeutic counseling. This shift brought three important changes. First, the officer no longer primarily acted as a community supervisor charged with enforcing a particular morality. Second, the officer became more of a clinical social worker whose goal was to help the offender solve psychological and social problems. Third, the offender was expected to become actively involved in the treatment. The pursuit of rehabilitation as the primary goal of probation gave the officer extensive discretion in defining and treating the offender's problems. Officers used their judgment to evaluate each offender and develop a treatment approach to the personal problems that presumably had led to crime. Many states offered to dismiss or expunge the conviction if the probationer fulfilled the terms of the probation.
During the 1960s, major social changes swept across the United States. These changes also affected the field of community corrections. Rather than counseling offenders, probation officers provided them with concrete social services such as assistance with employment, housing, finances, and education. This emphasis on reintegrating offenders and remedying the social problems they faced was consistent with federal efforts to wage a "War on Poverty." Instead of being a counselor or therapist, the probation officer served as an advocate, dealing with private and public institutions on the offender's behalf.
In the late 1970s the orientation of probation changed again as the goals of rehabilitation and reintegration gave way to "risk management." This approach, still dominant today, seeks to minimize the probability that an offender will commit a new offense. Risk management reflects two basic goals. First, in accord with the deserved-punishment ideal, the punishment should fit the offense, and correctional intervention should neither raise nor lower the level of punishment. Second, according to the community protection criterion, the amount and type of supervision are determined according to the risk that the probationer will return to a life out of compliance with the law.

See also

probationary in German: Bewährung
probationary in Spanish: Libertad condicional
probationary in Japanese: 保護観察
probationary in Korean: 집행유예
probationary in Polish: Probacja
probationary in Serbian: Пробација
probationary in Afrikaans: wwucguiwegdcygwueycgueyducg

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

cut-and-try, empirical, experimental, heuristic, hit-or-miss, on probation, pilot, probational, probative, probatory, proving, provisional, tentative, test, testing, trial, trial-and-error, trying, verificatory
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