Profiting from the Poor: Offender-funded probation in the USA

Journal article


Teague, Michael 2016. Profiting from the Poor: Offender-funded probation in the USA. British Journal of Community Justice.
AuthorsTeague, Michael
Abstract

The privatization of probation provision in England and Wales is now neither tentative nor experimental. Offender-funded probation in America is an inevitable by-product of the introduction of market forces into probation, and a significant growth area. A comparative analysis of the delivery of privatized, offender-funded probation in the USA is employed in order to illuminate one possible future trajectory for probation in England and Wales. The experience of service users in southern US states is considered, as is the evidence indicating an insufficiently regulated and privatized system which is primarily driven by revenue generation rather than rehabilitation. While many US privatized probation companies operate in a principled way, a number of cases involving these companies have culminated in the incarceration of service users who were unable to afford supervision fees. When a privatized company’s survival depends on its ability to raise revenue, this may impact on the quality of intervention and the experience of service users. We are not yet at a point where offender-funded intervention is advocated in England. Nevertheless, there is a need to further reflect upon ethical, fiscal, political and practice issues before we irrevocably commit probation further down its current path.

The privatization of probation provision in England and Wales is now neither tentative nor experimental. Offender-funded probation in America is an inevitable by-product of the introduction of market forces into probation, and a significant growth area. A comparative analysis of the delivery of privatized, offender-funded probation in the USA is employed in order to illuminate one possible future trajectory for probation in England and Wales. The experience of service users in southern US states is considered, as is the evidence indicating an insufficiently regulated and privatized system which is primarily driven by revenue generation rather than rehabilitation. While many US privatized probation companies operate in a principled way, a number of cases involving these companies have culminated in the incarceration of service users who were unable to afford supervision fees. When a privatized company’s survival depends on its ability to raise revenue, this may impact on the quality of intervention and the experience of service users. We are not yet at a point where offender-funded intervention is advocated in England. Nevertheless, there is a need to further reflect upon ethical, fiscal, political and practice issues before we irrevocably commit probation further down its current path.

Keywordsprobation; America; offender-funded; privatization
Year2016
JournalBritish Journal of Community Justice
PublisherDe Montfort University and Sheffield Hallam University
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/608610
hdl:10545/608610
Publication dates15 Mar 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited08 May 2016, 15:26
ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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