Published In

Handbook of Community Corrections

Document Type


Publication Date



Probation, Community-based corrections


Probation is a court order through which a criminal defendant is placed under the control, supervision, and care of a probation officer in lieu of imprisonment; so long as the probationer maintains certain standards of conduct. This chapter reviews the historical development of probation in the United States, and highlights how the practice is used in the 21st century. Probation has many advantages over imprisonment, including lower operational costs, increased opportunities for rehabilitation, and reduced risk of criminal socialization. However, there is increasing evidence to suggest probation strategies that focus on compliance monitoring and other law enforcement aspects of supervision are not effective in reducing recidivism, and under some circumstances may even increase it. Finally, this chapter concludes with a review of the status of the emerging efforts to redefine the function of probation in the modern era.


This is the author manuscript of an Invited chapter submitted to O. Hayden Griffin and Vanessa Woodward (Eds.), 12 Handbook of Corrections in the United States. New York, NY: Routledge. The final version can be found in Section Three: Community Corrections and Alternative Sanctions. Chapter 15.

Persistent Identifier

Included in

Criminology Commons