The Advantages of Probation

By Kathleen Palmer - Updated June 21, 2017
Male judge signing papers granting probation

The purpose of probation is to provide low-risk offenders the opportunity to pay their dues to society in lieu of incarceration. Probation often is granted after the judge imposes a term of imprisonment. That term is then suspended for the duration of the probation period. If an offender fails to comply with the conditions in the agreement, the judge may revoke the term of probation and impose the original sentence.

Stability

While on probation, the offender can maintain employment and continue to be a contributing member of society. His life is not interrupted, which provides stability.

Cost

Incarceration can cost taxpayers hundreds of dollars a day per offender, whereas probation only costs a few dollars per day. Those on probation also contribute to the cost of their supervision by paying monthly fees in addition to fines or restitution.

Rehabilitation

Offenders on probation are evaluated and may be required to participate in rehabilitation. Treatment professionals are able to guide an offender as challenges arise, teaching him how to cope with daily life.

Supervision

Higher-risk offenders are monitored more closely than those of a lesser risk, protecting society from new offenses. For example, these inviduals have more face-to-face contact with the probation officer, and many have a curfew or drug testing. Lower-risk offenders may report to the probation officer once a month.

Clean Slate

Some first-time offenders who complete probation successfully may have their criminal record expunged. Usually, this is applicable only to first-time offenders who participate in a special program where the charges are dismissed upon successful completion of probation. Still, the offender will have to file a motion to expunge with the court, and each state differs in how these types of cases are handled.

About the Author

Currently based in North Carolina, Kathleen Palmer started writing criminal-justice related articles in 2009 for eHow.com. She has worked in the criminal justice and mental health fields since 1997, writing reports for federal and state courts across the United States. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and criminal justice from Radford University.

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