The American Criminal Justice System: How It Works, How It Doesn't , and How to Fix It

By Gerhard Falk | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
PROBATION AND PAROLE

THE HISTORY OF PROBATION

Probation began in the United States when, in 1841, a Boston shoemaker, John Augustus, posted bail for a man convicted of drunken conduct. Augustus had worked with alcoholics in the past and therefore convinced the Boston police court that he could rehabilitate the alcoholic involved. Augustus asked the judge, who was about to sentence the drunk to jail, to let him, Augustus, supervise the drunk for three weeks. The three weeks were sufficient to convince the judge that the drunk would remain sober, and thus the judge sentenced the man to only a fine. This episode led to the concept of probation, which has existed in the United States ever since.

Although law enforcers opposed the efforts of Augustus, the courts in Boston gradually accepted the view that not all offenders needed to be incarcerated and therefore let Augustus bail out over 1,800 persons. Augustus continued in his efforts until he died in 1859. He made himself liable for $231,234, which was an enormous sum in his day. Augustus helped his probationers to find employment and a place to live and gave them support in their effort to rid themselves of their alcoholism. It should be noted that Augustus carefully selected those candidates for his attention who were salvageable and appeared not to be violent or untrustworthy.1

Because Augustus lived in Massachusetts, his efforts led to the establishment of the first American probation department in that state. In 1878, the Massachusetts legislature passed the first statute authorizing the appointment of the first American paid probation officer. At first, the mayor of Boston appointed the probation officer. Then the law was changed in 1891, and the courts appointed the probation officers. The second state to appoint probation officers was Vermont in 1898.2 Thereafter, probation became national in that more and more states adopted provisions allowing probation. On March 4, 1925, President Calvin Coolidge signed the National Probation Act. That law, passed by Congress earlier, allowed every state to appoint one

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The American Criminal Justice System: How It Works, How It Doesn't , and How to Fix It
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Chapter 1 - The American Police 1
  • Chapter 2 - A Brief History of Criminal Prosecution in the United States 23
  • Chapter 3 - Prosecuting Violent Crime and Sex Offenses 45
  • Chapter 4 - Prosecuting Wwhite- Collar Crime 69
  • Chapter 5 - Defending the Accused 89
  • Chapter 6 - The American Jury 109
  • Chapter 7 - Courts and Judges 129
  • Chapter 8 - The Prison-Industrial Complex 151
  • Chapter 9 - Probation and Parole 173
  • Chapter 10 - The Death Penalty- Non Omnis Moriar 193
  • Epilogue 215
  • Bibliography 221
  • Index 241
  • About the Author 251
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