14 Fed. Probation 41 (1950)
The Future of Federal Probation

handle is hein.journals/fedpro14 and id is 111 raw text is: The Future of Federal Probation
Director, Administrative Office of the United States Courts

T DOES NOT SEEM LIKELY that there will be any
substantial change in the present functions of
federal probation officers in the next 25 years.
These functions are principally presentence in-
vestigation and the supervision of persons on pro-
bation and parole.
Presentence Investigation and Supervision
In the beginning federal probation officers were
concerned almost exclusively with the supervision
of persons on probation and parole. The courts
soon found, however, that it was helpful to them
in deciding what sentence to impose, to have full
information from the probation officers concern-
ing the personality and associations of the of-
fenders and an estimate of their capacity for re-
habilitation. So the courts came to require pre-
sentence investigations and reports in a large
proportion of the cases of conviction of crime.
Rule 32c of the Rules of Criminal Procedure re-
quires this unless the court otherwise directs. In
the fiscal year 1949 a total of 23,704 investigations
were made, of which 14,921 were presentence in-
vestigations, 7,261 were investigations of civilian
prisoners preliminary to their parole from prison,
and 1,522 were similar investigations for the Army
for which the probation officers serve as parole
agents. The number of persons under supervision
in the same year was 29,726, of whom 21,557 were
probationers, 4,555 were parolees, 2,550 were
persons on conditional release, and 1,064 were pa-
rolees from the Army.
Relation of Probation Officers to the Courts
in Presentence Investigations
There is a substantial difference between the
position of probation officers in presentence in-
vestigations and in supervision. In making pre-
sentence investigations they assemble and present
the facts pertinent to the offender for the consider-
ation of the court. Some courts desire a recom-
mendation of action from the probation officers
and some do not. In either case the task calls for
a high degree of intelligence on the part of the
probation officers in appraising the facts and pre-
senting them in clear, logical, and balanced form.

But the responsibility is in the court.
Comparative Independence of Probation
Officers in Supervision
In supervision on the other hand, the responsi-
bility for planning and action is in the probation
officers, with only an occasional reference to the
court or board of parole. The probation officers
are really the treatment agents for the persons
committed to them, just as the prisons, civil or
military, are the agencies for treatment of the
offenders in their custody. Generally after a court
puts a person on probation he expects the proba-
tion officer to take charge of the case and conduct
it. The probation officer is largely independent and
thrown pretty much on his own resources. It is
only when there is a substantial violation of the
probation and the question arises whether it should
be revoked, that the case again comes before the
court. Likewise cases of persons on parole,
whether civil or military, are in the hands of the
probation officers to be handled according to their
judgment, up to the point of substantial breach
of the terms of parole. It does not seem likely
that this condition will change.
Dual Duty of Probation Officers To Supervise
Probationers and Parolees
Another feature of federal probation that seems
almost certain to continue is the dual duty of the
officers to supervise for the courts persons on pro-
bation, and for the board of parole and the Army,
paroled prisoners. A generation ago correctional
authorities were not inclined to put the supervision
of probationers and parolees in the same persons.
They were apprehensive that if this was done
the stigma of prison would attach to the proba-
tioners and the work with them would be less ef-
fective. There may still be some opinion of this
nature which is not without reason. But in the
Federal Government in any event, economy makes
it necessary to provide in many districts for the
supervision of probationers and parolees by the
same officers. This is particularly true in districts
of large area and sparse population. It would
involve unnecessary expense to have two sets

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