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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78397 Find in a Library
Title: Probation Officer at Court - From Friend to Acquaintance
Journal: Howard Journal of Penology and Crime Prevention  Volume:20  Issue:2  Dated:(1981)  Pages:97-116
Author(s): W McWilliams
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 20
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The relationship of probation officers with British courts is traced historically and theoretically, and suggestions are offered for improving the probation officer's declining relationship with the court.
Abstract: It is widely held that the status, visibility, and influence of the probation officer in the courts have diminished over the last 15 years. This implies that the shield between the offender and the full harshness of the law, which the probation service has long provided in appropriate cases, is weakened. The problem of the decline of the probation officer in the courts can be stated as follows. In certain crucial respects, the bench has remained unchanged (remaining local, unpaid, nonbureaucratic, and independent of the executive). Clerks to the justices, on the other hand, have become more professional and bureaucratic, often creating a barrier between the bench and the probation officer. Preprofessional, prebureaucratic probation officers were able to transcend this barrier and communicate with sentencers over it, largely because the probation officers and sentencers shared the same values and communication forms. The probation officer, however, has become more professionalized, more accountable to and influenced by the executive, and bureaucratized. Each of these changes has moved the probation officer away from the bench and weakened his/her status as the friend of the court. A possible solution for this declining relationship would be to develop a clear and agreed-upon policy that officers would attend court in specific circumstances. Further, the current center-periphery model of management would need either to be abandoned in favor of a participative model, or modified in such a way as to ensure that those at the center receive accurate feedback from the periphery, particularly in relation to operative goals. Six notes and 46 references are listed.
Index Term(s): Court clerk; Court management; Judges; Organization studies; Probation or parole officers; Sentencing recommendations; Systems analysis
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