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NCJ Number: 66437 Find in a Library
Title: RECOMMENDATIONS IN SOCIAL INQUIRY REPORTS
Journal: CRIMINAL LAW REVIEW  Dated:(FEBRUARY 1979)  Pages:73-81
Author(s): B HARRIS
Corporate Author: Sweet and Maxwell
Marketing Director
United Kingdom
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 9
Sponsoring Agency: Sweet and Maxwell
London, NW3 3PF, England
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: THE WEIGHT OF PROBATION OFFICERS RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE SENTENCING PROCEDURE OF BRITISH COURTS IS CONSIDERED; IT IS EMPHASIZED THAT THIS EXPERT OPINION IS BUT ONE CONSIDERATION IN THE COMPLEX DECISIONMAKING PROCESS.
Abstract: THE CONTENTS OF PROBATION OFFICER SOCIAL INQUIRY REPORTS, GIVING INFORMED OPINION ON THE DEFENDANT BASED ON SUBSTANTIAL EXPERIENCE WITH A CASE, WERE DEFINED BY THE STREITFEILD AND MORISON REPORTS IN 1962. THE REPORTS CREDITED PROBATION OFFICERS WITH WIDE EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD OF AFTERCARE, WHICH ENABLED THEM TO FORMULATE USEFUL OPINIONS ON THE LIKELY EFFECTS OF OTHER FORMS OF SENTENCE AS WELL AS PROBATION. THIS AUTHORITY TO INFLUENCE SENTENCING WAS STRENGTHENED IN 1974 WHEN THE TERM 'RECOMMENDATION' WAS USED IN A HOME OFFICE CIRCULAR TO DESCRIBE PROBATION OFFICER OPINIONS REGARDING PARTICULAR OFFENDERS AND THEIR SUITABILITY FOR PROBATION OR OTHER SENTENCING ALTERNATIVES. ACTING UPON THIS CIRCULAR, PROBATION OFFICERS HAVE BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO STATING RECOMMENDATIONS IN THEIR SOCIAL INQUIRY REPORTS, INDICATING WHETHER THE DEFENDANT SHOULD BE PUT ON PROBATION OR SENT TO PRISON, UNDERGO COMMUNITY SERVICE, BE FINED, OR BE DISCHARGED. THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS PRACTICE IMPINGE UPON THE NATURE OF JUDICIAL SENTENCING, WHICH MUST INVOLVE AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PERCEIVED NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY FOR PROTECTION FROM CRIMINAL CONDUCT, THE DEGREE TO WHICH AN OFFENDER HAS FORFEITED HIS LIBERTY BY HIS CONDUCT, AND THE STRENGTH OF HIS CLAIM FOR MERCY. PROBATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATIONS RELATE TO ONLY ONE CONSIDERATION--THE OPTIMUM MEASURE TO STOP THE OFFENDER FROM OFFENDING AGAIN. MOREOVER, PROBATION OFFICERS ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE FULL RANGE OF SENTENCING OPTIONS PERMITTED BY LEGISLATION AND RECOMMEND INAPPROPRIATE SENTENCES THAT ARE NOT OPEN TO THE COURT. ALSO, CLIENT-PROBATION OFFICER RELATIONSHIPS ARE COMPLICATED WHEN RECOMMENDATIONS CONFLICT WITH THE CLIENT'S DESIRES. CONSIDERING THE CURRENT TREND AWAY FROM REHABILITATIVE SENTENCING ALTOGETHER, IT IS URGED THAT PROBATION OFFICER REPORTS BE CONFINED TO STATEMENTS TO BE REGARDED AS OPINION ONLY. FOOTNOTES ARE INCLUDED. (MRK)
Index Term(s): England; Judicial decisions; Probation or parole decisionmaking; Probation or parole officers; Probation outcome prediction; Sentencing/Sanctions
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=66437

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