A way to keep jails
from overcrowding. In a perfect society
, every criminal would serve full sentences corresponding to the crimes committed. However, since prisons are places with fixed capacities, judges have to be considerate.
Many things affect a judge when deciding between giving or not giving probation:
- past criminal history
- severity of crime
- likelihood of the offender committing more crimes
- remorsefulness of the offender
Clearly, probation benefits a criminal more than serving time in jail. However, the courts have to deliver punishment of some form. Probation sentences vary and include:
If someone with a crime-free past breaks into a car, for example, the possibility of incarceration is slim. Usually, a fine will be assessed or the sentence will be suspended. This keeps prisons from overflowing with relatively harmless people.
The responsibility of enforcing probation is giving to officers of the court. There is a difference between probation officers and probation agents in most states. Officers are the enforcers, while agents are the helpers. In both positions, one worker is responsible for many offenders. For example, Cabell County of West Virginia has a ratio of one officer for every 60 offenders. Still, this method supersedes incarceration in most cases.