Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Todd R. Clear & Harry R. Dammer
Probation is by far the most extensively used form of corrections in the United States. Nearly 60 percent of all adults under correctional authority are serving probation sentences. In 1999, this figure represented more than 3,400,000 persons. Probation is traditionally defined as a criminal sentence allowing the offender to serve the sanctions imposed by the court while living in community under supervision. All penal codes restrict the availability of probation to certain types of offenses and certain offenders—usually first-or second-time felons convicted of property crimes, or violent offenses involving impulsive, unarmed acts of aggression. Legislation that provides for probation specifies the conditions under which the judge “may” impose a term of probation: Probation is a discretionary privilege offered by the court, not a right of the offender who meets the criteria. Laws never compel the decision by indicating specific offenses or offenders for which the judge “shall” choose probation. Instead, ...