Criminology, probation and stuff

Some musings on criminology with a focus on probation

Kansas probation vs the National Probation Service

with one comment

It is fairly unbelievable to read that the state of Kansas is closing prisons, encouraging the use of probation and not recalling people if they breach their parole/probation as reported here: To save money on prisons, states take a softer stance. The argument is that because of the recession the state is trying to save money by not using prison quite so much.

This is even more incredible when one considers that the Republican House Speaker admits that the state is of the ‘hang-em-high’ kind and that the very same house speaker has previsouly campaigned on increasing the length and use of prison sentences across the board. Not only is the state using prison less but probation has been become more welfare focussed:

Over the past year, Grevas has transformed the enforcement-oriented operation, heavily focused on the surveillance of offenders, into a service broker. Probation officers now help offenders find work, health care, housing, counseling, transportation and child care.

Isn’t it amazing what a recession can do!

Interestingly, however, I decided to look up the prison population for Kansas- I think this document is the right place to look. It seems that the prison population was decreasing anyway- before the recession hit fully and before the bill was passed in the state parliament to increase the use of probation service (page 22). I’m not really sure what that means but it seems to add an extra dimension.

The government in England and Wales has been trying to reduce the prison population for some time with the introduction of early release, the bail accommodation and support service and more use of HDCs. But they don’t seem to be doing too well- the prison population is still rising and there are no signs that it’s going to stop soon.

However, the UK government is also cutting funding to front line probation services. This, in my view, will lead to more people being on probation or licence or being subject to a SSO but with less probation officers available to work with them. The only option, surely, will be for probation officers to become more like a surveillance organisation in order to cope.

So, the penal system and probation service in Kansas undergoes a philosophical change towards welfarism and the England and Wales will inevitably have to go the other way. And all because of the recession. It will be interesting to see which state has made the right choice.


Written by criminologyandstuff

March 18, 2009 at 11:24 am

One Response

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  1. Interesting thoughts. It will be interesting how much of the stimulus funding is related to criminal justice issues and if that causes officials to reverse course and support more incapacitation approaches.


    March 25, 2009 at 5:18 pm

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