In the early years of this country juveniles were tried and punished as adults and served their sentences in the same facility as adults. Eventually separate courts were designated specifically for juvenile crimes, and special housing facilities were developed. Laws were put into place restricting punishments for minors to the least restrictive sentence. In the majority of the cases, probation is used to punish juvenile offenders.
Unsupervised juvenile probation is the least restrictive of all juvenile punishments. It is given to offenders who have no major criminal history and are convicted of a minor crime. Crimes such as vandalism and loitering are often punished by unsupervised probation. The convicted juvenile is required to stay out of any sort of trouble for a period of time and may occasionally be asked to pass a drug test, obtain employment or earn a G.E.D. or high school diploma. Unsupervised probation requires few to no actual meetings with a probation officer. It can be revoked if the offender commits another crime, and a more serious punishment could be distributed.
During supervised probation an offender will be required to report to a probation officer on a routine schedule and pay a fine while staying out of trouble. Offenders may also be required to take a drug test or fulfill other requirements such as keeping a curfew, steady employment and refraining from patronizing bars. Should the terms of probation be violated it can be revoked and jail time served instead. Offenders who have previously committed misdemeanors are often remanded to a sentence of supervised probation.
Juvenile offenders who need a very structured environment with strict guidelines and supervision are placed in an intensive supervised probation detail. Offenders who have committed two felony offenses are usually remanded to this type of probation. This type of probation is most often in a group home environment where offenders leave for work and school and then return at night for household duties. If intensive supervised probation is violated, a longer jail sentence is imposed.