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The modern correctional methods of treatment of offenders such

as probation, parole, indeterminate sentence and other minimum
security devices are being extensively used throughout the civilized
world for the reformation and rehabilitation of offenders as the
normal members of society. The problem of crime is therefore, no
longer to be treated as an isolated problem but it is directly linked
with the social defense and as such has to be attended with greater
care and attention. In recent decades probation is being extensively
used by courts as an improved form of non custodial alternative in
place of incarceration.
Experience has shown that the age old custodial method of
institutional incarceration suffered from two major defects, namely, it
increased the dependence of offenders on prison institution and at the
same time brought about a decrease in his capacity to readjust to the
normal social life after release. Again, conformity with strict prison
discipline was no guarantee that the prisoners will transform into a
law abiding citizen. Other inevitable consequences that ensued from
prisonisation of offender were loss of job, separation from family,
contamination due to association with hardened and professional
delinquents. On the other hand, reformative treatment measures in the
form of guidance and supervision have proved effective in meeting
the needs of delinquents for their rehabilitation in the community. It is
in this back drop that probation of offenders has been widely accepted
as one the non institutional method of dealing with corrigible
offenders particularly, the young offenders, the first offenders and the
women offenders. It aims at rehabilitation of offenders by allowing
them to live in society under supervision and surveillance rather than
subjecting them to socially unhealthy atmosphere of the prison life.
The release of an offender on probation enables him a free life in the
community and reform himself as a normal human being in own
natural surroundings. During the period of probation, he remains
under the supervision and guidance of the probation officer who
endeavors to bring about the desired change in offender’s attitude to
life and his social relationship with the community.

Definition of Probation:

Generally speaking, probation is a method of treatment of

offenders who are considered fit to the rehabilitative processes within
the society itself, without the necessity of being sent to institutional
prisons. The term probation is derived from the Latin term ‘Probare’
which means to test or to prove. it is a custodial suspension of
sentence of an offender who is not likely to resume a criminal career
if kept under careful supervision, guidance and control. In other
words, the release of offenders on probation is a treatment device
prescribed by the court for persons convicted of offences against the
law, during which the probationer lives in the community and
regulates his own life under conditions imposed by the court of other
constituted authority, and is subject to supervision by a probation
Donald Taft defines probation as the “postponement of the final
judgment or sentence in a criminal case, giving the offender an
opportunity to improve his conduct and to readjust himself to the
community, often on condition or conditions imposed by the court
and under guidance and supervision of an officer of the court”. It is in
fact the suspension of sentence during the period of liberty in the
community conditioned upon good behavior of the convicted
offender. The basic purpose of allowing the offender the benefit of
release on probation is to keep him away from the evil consequences
of incarceration and offer him an opportunity to lead a socially useful
life without violating the law. Thus it may be said that probation is a
treatment reaction to law breaking and an attempt to mitigate the
rigors of the offender rather than making him suffer incarceration in
the prison institution.

The Nature and Scope of Probation:

According to Homer S. Gunnings, probation is a matter of

discipline and treatment.If probationaers are carefully chosen and
supervision work is perfofmed with care and caution,it can work
miracles in the field of rehabilitation of offenders.
The release of offenders on probation has often been criticized by
some penologists as an easy let-off or form of leniency which
undermines the basic purpose of punishment.But this criticism seems
to be unwarranted because probation,whether it is for juveniles or
adults,permits a more congenial social social atmosphere than prison
institution,and makes possible varying degree of control over
delinquents together with the option of sentencing him to a term of
imprisonment if he violates the conditions of probation.Thus
probation enables the delinquent to maintain contract with his family
and other social agencies and leaves him independent for self
support.Thus he does not remain a burden on his family or society
because he can earn his living himself.
Briefly speaking, probation is an embodiment of a progressive
correctional policy based on indiviualisation of treatment is
rather a selective measure depending on the discretion of the
court.The actual selection for release of offender on probation
depends on careful investigation of personal case history and social
circumstances of the offender.The investigation is done by a
probatuion officer who prepares a pre sentence report to be filed
before the trial court prior to final disposal of the case.