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Probation and Parole: Supervision - Use Of Volunteers

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Community correctional programs operate under a basic philosophy of reintegration: connecting offenders with legitimate opportunity and reward structures, and generally uniting the offender within the community. It has become quite apparent that the correctional system cannot achieve this without assistance, regardless of the extent of resources available. Reintegration requires the assistance and support of the community. This concept is certainly not a new one. The John Howard Association, the Osborne Association, and other citizen prisoners' aid societies have provided voluntary correctional-type services for many years. The volunteer movement developed in this country in the early 1820s, when a group of citizens known as the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Misery of Public Prisons began supervising the activities of inmates upon their release from penal institutions. John Augustus, a Boston shoemaker, who worked with well over two thousand misdemeanants in his lifetime, later adopted this practice.

Volunteerism is alive and well in corrections. Although exact numbers are not known, it is safe to say that there are thousands of volunteers serving more than three thousand jurisdictions nationwide. Proponents of the volunteer concept consider it to be one of the most promising innovations in the field, claiming that it can help alleviate the problem of excessive probation and parole case loads, and contribute to rehabilitation and reintegration goals for the offender. Volunteers can range from student interns to older persons with time to devote. Some volunteers are persons that have a specific skill or talent to contribute, while others give their time and counsel.

Volunteerism generally refers to situations where individual citizens contribute their talents, wisdom, skills, time, and resources within the context of the justice system, without receiving financial remuneration. Volunteer projects operate on the premise that certain types of offenders can be helped by the services a volunteer can offer, and that such services can be provided at a minimal tax dollar cost and can result in significant cost savings. By drawing upon the time, talents, and abilities of volunteers to assist in service delivery, community supervision officers can serve to broaden the nature of the services offered. Any community consists of persons who possess a diverse supply of skills and abilities that can be effectively tapped by volunteer programs.

Probation and Parole: Supervision - Effectiveness Of Community Supervision [next] [back] Probation and Parole: Supervision - Restitution

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