This article is written by Vanshika Mathuria. The article is based on the Probation Officers and their Duties.
The Probation of Criminals Act of 1958 is based on the concept that young offenders should be halted via counselling and rehabilitation rather than being placed in jail, like normal offenders. The probation officer focuses on the offender’s worry or desire and attempts to resolve it, with the goal of making the offender a productive member of the community. Within the criminal justice system, the probation officer plays a critical or vital role. He is a pioneer in prisoner rehabilitation, supporting criminals in confessing and becoming productive members of society. So, let us start with the meaning of probation officer.
What is a probation officer?
A probation officer is a court official who interacts with persons sentenced to supervised probation on a regular basis. In general, these individuals are perpetrators and low-level criminals. The vast majority of criminals sentenced to probation are first-time offenders. Probation is a way for the court to keep convicts out of prison. Many people on probation choose to stay in their communities, stay at home, work or enrol in an educational programme, and raise their children.
The purpose of the legal system is for a probationer to be a responsible member of society while retaining contact with family and community support services. Once on probation, a person may be ordered to take a drug or domestic violence test to see if treatment is necessary. Persons may also be asked to take breathalyser or urine tests in order to track their sobriety. Another usual requirement is that a person continues his or her education and/or work.
Probation officer’s purpose
The most important or successful treatment strategy is probation. The probation officer cannot function as a supervisor without the assistance of the police. In terms of the police’s role, it’s remarkable. The trial officer and the police are two state entities that provide essentially the same functions. Because the motivations and aims are contradictory, the entire outdoor rehab strategy will fail, as it is clear that police will want to assist probation officers.
In institutions, the police have also played an essential role in the rehabilitation and socialisation of young offenders. It is considered that when a person is released from a domestic institution, the public will reject him. He would be accepted by society if he did not participate in anti-social behaviour and repeat offences. In this sense, it is the role of the police officer to reintegrate such persons into society while also ensuring that other agencies, such as panchayats, are aware of their obligations to aid him in socialising and doing his usual social duties. In this case, probation officers must fulfil the same responsibilities, such as assisting the offender in his or her recovery and adjusting the offender to other members of society.
Responsibilities of the Probation officer
A probation officer will need to visit with their client on a monthly or even weekly basis. Based on a risk/needs assessment, the probation officer may determine the amount of monitoring that a person requires (minimum, medium or maximum). It assists in calculating the amount of assistance necessary. Evaluations look at a person’s community relations, or how they interact with others. The assessment also estimates the possibility of another person committing further crimes.
Each time a probation client visits his or her probation officer, a report form must be filled out. Unemployment, job growth, and divorce are all factors that affect people’s life. Meeting with a client allows the probation officer to assess where the client requires further assistance in order to succeed. As a result, just when someone starts at the highest level of supervision (weekly meetings), it doesn’t imply they have to stay there for the duration of their probationary period. Probation officials are expected to review a probationer’s case plan on a frequent basis.
Duties of a Probation officer
A probation officer is required to do the following, subject to any restrictions or limitations imposed, under Section 14 of the Offenders Probation Act of 1958:
- Investigate any individual accused of an offence’s circumstances or home environment with the objective of assisting the Court in identifying and reporting the most adequately advised approach to his dealings with it, in accordance with any Court direction;
- Supervising probationers and other persons under his control, as well as, if necessary, finding suitable employment;
- Counselling and assisting victims in the payment of fines or fees by the Court;
- In such conditions and in such a way as may be prescribed, advise and support people discharged under Section 4;
- Carry out any extra tasks that may be allocated to you.
A probation agent’s principal tasks, according to Section 14 of the Act, are criminal probation investigation, monitoring and direction, counselling, and professional control. This probation officer promotes the criminal’s rehabilitation as a law-abiding member of society by motivating, leading, and assisting the probationer.
Surveilling and Analytics
A careful analysis of the delinquent’s life history and background history is required to collect information about his faults or successes. If the criminal does not respond well to the reform efforts, a thorough inquiry will demand more limits on the criminal’s rights. To get as much information about his antecedents as feasible, the probationer must be addressed psychologically, with the consequence that information is gathered that allows the offender’s possibilities of reformation during the probationary procedure to be assessed. Monitoring is primarily a police duty, thus advising and supporting the research officer in this police function would be quite beneficial.
Consultation and Management
Continuous supervision of the probationer’s work is neither essential nor practicable. Probation supervision may thus only be carried out through field trips and occasional interactions. The Probation Officer will thoroughly comprehend and prescribe procedures to remedy concerns that may impede the offender’s re-adjustment in society. He must actively support the probationer on his road to rehabilitation. Probationers aren’t continuously pressured or supervised.
According to Section 14(b) and Section 18, the probation officer is in charge of supervising the probationer. The probationers who have been given or granted a check by the judge, on the other hand, have various elements. Both human and legal considerations. When a court convicts an offender, it must guarantee that the criminal is given the opportunity to be rehabilitated and that he or she is treated as a normal human being. As a result, monitoring is one of the tactics that can heal and rehabilitate the criminal under the supervision of the probation officer while also protecting society from the offender.
At the same time, the trial officer is in charge of developing the offender’s character. As a result, there are two components to supervision.
- The testing person must follow the court’s instructions. The check agent is obligated to notify the court if the probationer violates the terms of the probation. The trial officer must strike a balance between the offender’s rehabilitation and the safety of society. In this way, he’s performing double duty. If the probationer’s activities do not improve, he will be forced to serve as a societal guardian.
- Second, the trial officer must accept the probationer as he is, flaws and all. He must distinguish between circumstances that require minimum aid and attention, situations that respond to advice and counsel, and situations that require a great deal of attention but do not respond to his therapy.
During the probationary phase, the probation officer must build a connection with the offender and instil confidence in him in the offender’s mind. He must also develop and instil trust in the offender in his ability to choose his own path. The probation officer must stand by him and provide him with appropriate guidance, advice, and information, allowing him to participate in rehabilitation programmes with the probation officer.
Probation is alternative sentencing in which convicts selected by probation officials are permitted to serve a criminal sentence in the community. A probation sentence may compel a criminal to pay penalties or reparations, as well as seek treatment for substance misuse or difficulties with his or her health or family.
Probation control is one of the methods used by courts to penalise those convicted of criminal behaviour. Infringers promise to the court that they would conduct correctly, prevent other offences, and follow the terms of the warrant. The following are typical supervisory requirements:
- Being of good character;
- to carry out the supervisor’s directives;
- Any change of residence should be reported to the supervisory officer.
The Court may impose additional requirements based on the facts of the case. Examples include:
- Involvement in a training course;
- hostel accommodation; and
- Attendance at a clinic or programme.
The Court has the authority to grant a probation order for at least six months to three years.
Accessibility to the Court
Another important role of the probation officer is to serve as a liaison between the probation and the Court since the primary obligation of the probationer under his supervision is to defend the interest. The probation order may be changed or the probationary bond may be exercised by the court. When he determines that the probationer is making adequate progress in adapting to everyday life in society.
Probation Officer’s Pre-sentence Report
According to Section 7 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, the trial officer is required to prepare a pre-sentence report with precise details of the prisoner who has sought to be released on probation by the Court. The judge decides and directs the defendant’s punishment to be freed on probation based on this report. The pre-sentence report of the trial officer must include accurate and true information regarding the offender’s character, temperament, family and educational history, work statistics, general conditions, and historical precedents.
The two most fundamental prerequisites of a pre-sentence statement to give testimony to the offender’s background and behaviour are impartiality and objectivity. One of the key responsibilities of a probation agent is to provide a disciplinary report on the offender as required by the Court. It should include all of the information about the perpetrator as well as an assessment of the case.
- One of the key functions given to a PO under Section 14 (a) of the Act is the drafting of a pre-sentence report for the assistance of a Court in deciding whether or not to provide the benefit of probation. Following investigations into the character of a criminal, his social circumstances, financial and other conditions of his family, the PO shall present pertinent facts, the information in the report as asked by the Court, pursuant to Section 14(a) of the Act.
- A statement of facts will be used to outline the case. PO’s case review assists the court in determining the best course of action for the defendant after he or she has been found guilty.
- If the report is filed one day before the Court’s verdict, it will be classified as “secret” and handed to the Court on the day stated; it will be enclosed in a sealed cover.
- If the probation officer feels that the probationer has matured to the point that additional monitoring is no longer necessary, he will request the bond be released in collaboration with the district probation officer.
When making judgments about the probationer under his supervision, the probation officer should keep in mind that his decisions are critical not only for the offender but also for the community’s safety.
Rehabilitation and Follow-up for Probationers
The probationary officer must assist with social rehabilitation to prevent resorting to violence. For this reason, the probation officer will make every effort to secure the probationer:
- Training facilities,
- Opportunities for occupations,
- Some financial assistance is required, as well as
- Contacts and organisations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, youth programmes and civic initiatives for normal citizens and co-organizations.
The probation officer will keep in touch with released probationers in order to monitor progress in rehabilitating them for as long as the Chief Probation Superintendent specifies, and to provide a follow-up report to the district probation officer and the Chief Probation Superintendent. Where appropriate, aftercare programmes and organisations like Nav Jeevan Mandals, District Probation, and After Care Association will collaborate with the Probation Officer.
Appointment of a Probation Officer
Section 13 of the Probation of Offenders Act states the following concerning the appointment of a Probation Officer:
- The state government has appointed or recognised someone as a probation officer.
- A person for whom a firm recognised by the State Government has made provision for this purpose.
- Any other person who, in the opinion of a court, is qualified to function as a probation officer in an extraordinary situation based on the facts of the case.
The Probation of Offenders Act of 1958 is extremely useful, especially in the current context of prison reform, in which a prison sentence that no longer recognises incarceration as the only course of action for ensuring society’s safety is of significant importance to the judiciary and probation services. Only with the assistance of the judiciary and the administration can alternative punishment measures, such as probation and the notion of reform penalty, be implemented.
This will assist a country like India, which has constantly overcrowded prisons and routine human rights violations that harden people’s internality. Probation is a validation of the human being within each of us, and it should be given top emphasis. The rehabilitation and recovery process must be constructed in the context of present social institutions in order to achieve the ultimate goal of returning these criminals to an ordered community. It is critical that the different criminal justice system organisations work together to make probation a successful way of noncustodial treatment in all appropriate circumstances where the notion of restorative justice must be implemented.
- The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 Bare Act, LexisNexis
- The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 by Caesar Roy, Central Law Publications