Articles

The Essence of Probation

Published: 15/03/2016

At the 'conversation with Paul Senior' event in January 2016 at Kendal the group had to go back to first principles to test out a basic proposition - whether probation, however it is defined, has a place in 21st century responses to crime and any societal attempts to rehabilitate, reform, reintegrate and/or restore offenders back into communities. If we could agree the core principles of what constitutes 'probation' and also understand and articulate the boundary issues, would most societies driven by human rights and equality of opportunity for all its citizens inevitably seek to create some form of probation? This was the proposition. This has been seen to happen for instance in recent years in Eastern Europe where the limitations of a penal system based just on imprisonment has led to the creation of services in the community akin to probation. Or is an opposite proposition equally possible that there is nothing universal about probation and we are seeing its death knell in the UK? The changes wrought by Transforming Rehabilitation have suggested that the very future of probation is at risk. Commentators have talked about the death knell of probation (Senior, 2014); questions of legitimacy attendant upon privatisation (Deering & Feilzer, 2015); or the most radical change since it was introduced a little over a century ago (Newburn, 2013). This is the core question at the heart of this paper, is there a future for probation and, if so, what defines its essence?

Paul Senior: An Editor Retires

Published: 15/03/2016

Only Paul could pull it off! For some time I had been aware that Paul Senior had been planning to organise an extended ‘conversation’ in his favourite Lakeland hotel for colleagues and friends from his career in probation. I had hinted my enthusiasm to be invited and hoped... A better event it could not have been. Convening in the snowy depths of January 2016, it was a privilege to spend two days relaxed and quality time based in the impressive Georgian Heaves Mansion, now character-full…

Probation Institute: Right Organisation, Right Timing?

Published: 15/03/2016

Thought Piece
'Thought Pieces' are papers which draw on the author's personal knowledge and experience to offer stimulating and thought provoking ideas relevant to the aims of the Journal. The ideas are located in an academic, research, and/or practice context and all papers are peer reviewed. Responses to them should be submitted to the Journal in the normal way.

Profiting from the Poor: Offender-Funded Probation in the USA

Published: 15/03/2016

The privatisation of probation provision in England and Wales is now neither tentative nor experimental. Offender-funded probation in America is an inevitable by-product of the introduction of market forces into probation, and a significant growth area. A comparative analysis of the delivery of privatised, offender-funded probation in the USA is employed in order to illuminate one possible future trajectory for probation in England and Wales. The experience of service users in southern US states is considered, as is the evidence indicating that an insufficiently regulated and privatised system is primarily driven by revenue generation rather than rehabilitation. While many US privatised probation companies operate in a principled way, a number of cases involving these companies have culminated in the incarceration of service users who were unable to afford supervision fees. When a privatised company’s survival depends on its ability to raise revenue, this may impact on the quality of intervention and the experience of service users. We are not yet at a point where offender-funded intervention is advocated in England. Nevertheless, there is a need to further reflect upon ethical, fiscal, political and practice issues before we irrevocably commit probation further down its current path.

Electronic Monitoring and Penal Reform: Constructive Resistance in the Age of “Coercive Connectedness”

Published: 15/03/2016

Alongside its strategy for privatising the probation service, the Ministry of Justice in the Conservative-led Coalition government (2010-2015) hatched a plan to upgrade from radio frequency electronic monitoring (EM) to a much larger scale, and solo use of GPS tracking. The plan failed, but was revealing nonetheless about the government’s policy intentions, to transform the community supervision of offenders more according to commercial-technological criteria than evidence-based penal ones. It is unclear if the new Conservative government, and new Minister of Justice, will retain the same misplaced confidence in an all GPS approach to EM and make a second, better finessed attempt at “disruptive innovation”. It is vital however that at this point in debate on the future of EM in England and Wales that probation interests and penal reform bodies abandon their traditional aloofness towards EM. They must recognise that it is merely an affordance, a customised coercive form, of the ubiquitous digital connectedness that characterises our age, and engage more actively in shaping the wise use of monitoring technology. Failure to do so will guarantee the continuing – but unwarranted - domination of rightwing, neoliberal narratives about the purpose, direction and scale of EM use. Other models, better aligned with community justice, already have prototypes in police-based Integrated Offender Management schemes, but are badly in need of professional and political champions.

Manifesto for Higher Education (HE)

Published: 15/03/2016

Probation agencies and higher education: the need for constructive partnership This is a manifesto outlining a relationship between higher education and the new agencies of probation, community rehabilitation and public protection. It argues for constructive partnership. The manifesto was developed at a conference in Kendal when ten probation academics came together to share experiences and debate the future of probation as a professional activity. Each participant had experience…

Bringing the Feelings Back: Returning Emotions to Criminal Justice Practice

Published: 15/03/2016

This article argues that probation policy needs to take much greater account of the important role of emotion in probation and other criminal justice practice. Drawing on the findings of three separate pieces of research, we argue that emotions play a critical role in practice despite their absence from policy in recent years. Emotions, we argue, are important in terms of developing effective practice. Moreover, there are several consequences of using emotion in practice and relevant organisations need to recognise this and provide sufficient support for staff in dealing with such consequences. This, we argue, would allow for practitioners to be both emotionally literate whilst also enabling practice which encourages offenders to take responsibility for their actions. In sum, it will lead to an intuitively intelligent system of justice.

Probation, People and Profits: The Impact of Neoliberalism

Published: 15/03/2016

Thought Piece
'Thought Pieces' are papers which draw on the author's personal knowledge and experience to offer stimulating and thought provoking ideas relevant to the aims of the Journal. The ideas are located in an academic, research, and/or practice context and all papers are peer reviewed. Responses to them should be submitted to the Journal in the normal way

Innovation and Privatisation in the Probation Service in England and Wales

Published: 15/03/2016

Thought Piece
'Thought Pieces' are papers which draw on the author's personal knowledge and experience to offer stimulating and thought provoking ideas relevant to the aims of the Journal. The ideas are located in an academic, research, and/or practice context and all papers are peer reviewed. Responses to them should be submitted to the Journal in the normal way.

What will Probation Practice Look Like in 2020?

Published: 15/03/2016

Thought Piece
'Thought Pieces' are papers which draw on the author's personal knowledge and experience to offer stimulating and thought provoking ideas relevant to the aims of the Journal. The ideas are located in an academic, research, and/or practice context and all papers are peer reviewed. Responses to them should be submitted to the Journal in the normal way.

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