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79 Fed. Probation 20 (2015)
Probation Officer Roles: A Statutory Analysis

handle is hein.journals/fedpro79 and id is 125 raw text is: 

20  FEDERAL  PROBATION                                                                                        Volume  79 Number  3

                                       Ming-Li   Hsieh
                                       Moana   Hafoka
                                         Youngki   Woo
                             Jacqueline  van  Wormer
                                       Mary   K.  Stohr
                                     Craig  Hemmens
Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology
                        Washington State University

faced enormous   challenges in their work,
including large caseloads, limited resources,
offender management   difficulties, and criti-
cism of high recidivism rates and the related
threat to public safety (Lutze, 2014; Lynch,
2001; Simon, 1993). The latter two issues-
offender management  and  recidivism-were
highlighted during the 1970s and  1980s as
public support for rehabilitation as the pri-
mary  goal of corrections was waning  and
the get tough approach gained prominence
(Gleicher, Manchak, &  Cullen, 2013; Lutze,
2014). The result was an increased emphasis
on law enforcement at the expense of offender
rehabilitation in the latter part of the twen-
tieth century. By the early 2000s, however,
the pendulum  had begun to shift somewhat,
as researchers, the public, and legislators
bemoaned   the costs, both social and finan-
cial, of the get tough approach. Numerous
studies have found that retributive strategies
and intensive supervision probation have not
achieved reductions in recidivism (Gendreau,
Goggin,  Cullen, & Andres,  2000; Hyatt &
Barnes, 2014; Lowenkamp,  Flores, Holsinger,
Makarios, & Latessa, 2010; MacKenzie, 2000;
Petersilia & Turner, 1993).
   At  the same  time, rehabilitation pro-
gramming   has  experienced  a renaissance
as researchers have  uncovered  treatment
approaches and protocols that when combined
with risk assessment and case management,

are related to  lower rates of  recidivism
(Andrews  &  Bonta, 2010a; Taxman,  2002).
Nevertheless, as recently as 2008, Skeem
and Manchak   (2008, p. 221) noted that this
retributive doctrine which utilizes control-
oriented surveillance has been the dominant
model  of probation  supervision, whereas
the treatment model is difficult to find in
practice in institutions and agencies across
the states. According to Taxman (2008), the
role of probation officer has been in a stage
of metamorphosis,  where it has been reca-
librated to combine rehabilitation and law
enforcement roles in recognition of the need
to both  control and treat and as a means
of handling large-scale community  correc-
tions populations. Recent figures indicate that
around 4.8 million out of the 7 million people
in the criminal justice system in the United
States were under community  supervision in
2012 (Glaze & Herberman,  2013). Probation
officers who balanced the law enforcement
and rehabilitation roles have been found to
improve  the  effectiveness of supervision,
reduce recidivism, and provide a promising
prosocial life for offenders that includes sound
coping mechanisms even under a complicated
workload  (Whetzel,  Paparozzi, Alexander,
&  Lowenkamp,   2011). Such  a  balanced
approach  is now acknowledged  by scholars
as a contemporary goal for probation officers
(Lutze, 2014; Miller, 2015; Skeem & Manchak,
2008; Whetzel et al., 2011).

   Historically, given the variation in policies
across agencies and jurisdictions, probation
officers have adjusted their images from time
to time in their search for the best practices
in community  corrections among these goals:
social worker (addressing client needs and
assisting in rehabilitation) (Andrews, Zinger,
Hoge,  Bonta, Gendreau,  &  Cullen, 1990),
peace officer (enforcing laws and rules and
working with court orders) (Benekos, 1990),
and  synthetic officer (combining both)
(Miller, 2015). Besides practitioners' endorse-
ments  and scholars' recognition of types of
supervision philosophies and practices, little
is known  about these role differences from
a legal perspective. This is unfortunate, as
statutes potentially guide probation officer
performance  and highlight the functions of
officer-offender interactions.
   It is important to understand the statu-
torily mandated roles of probation officers
because such awareness would further inform
legislators and policymakers about the poten-
tial disjunction between the ideology of the
law and the reality of the practice. To fill
this gap in the literature, the current study
employs  a statutory analysis to examine the
roles of probation officers. We identify which
probation roles are statutorily mandated today
and whether  such requirements fit the trend
of the balanced approach as identified by
Taxman  (2008).


Volume  79 Number  3

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