July 15 through 21, 2018 is Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week. If you recall your “Introduction to Criminal Justice” classes from college, you’ll remember that John Augustus, a boot maker and resident of Boston, is recognized as the “Father of Probation” and the first probation officer in the United States. As the textbooks will tell you, in 1841, Augustus attended police court to bail out an acquaintance, who was a “common drunkard”. The offender was ordered to appear in court a few weeks later for sentencing. Accompanied by Augustus, the individual returned to court, sober and with a changed appearance. At this time, Augustus began his 18 year career as a volunteer probation officer. Augustus was credited with beginning the investigation process we now know in our system of probation. He kept detailed notes on his actions and interactions with his probationers. By 1858, Augustus has provided bail for 1,946 men and women. Research indicates that only ten of this number forfeited their bond. How about that recidivism rate!
Upon reading several accounts of Augustus’ efforts, words such as “dogged persistence”, “zeal”, “compassion”, “respect”, “reform”, and “volunteer” appear.
On this 177th anniversary of the “Father of Probation” beginning his work in our field, the board of FPPOA recognizes that those same adjectives are within all of us. Are these terms not the full description of our work in this profession? Persistence, Compassion, Respect, Rehabilitation, and yes, how often are we “volunteering” our time.
As the years add up for us in this career, and upon hearing of all the new ways we can perform our jobs as U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Officers, we must reflect on the vision of the “Father of Probation.” To add to the simple formula of Augustus, let’s add and emphasize the need for more officers and more financial resources. Probation is a human interaction science. It takes time for the officer to build a rapport and positive working relationship with the probationer. This combination results in positive change. (See recidivism rate referenced above.)
So during this Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week, the board of FPPOA recognizes and thanks all of you for your hard work and dedication to our very unique profession.