Introduction

Read here the French version 

Probation Works: what is really known on effective practices in probation

Some fields of research, policy and practice are inherently and inescapably controversial and contested. But even in such fields, and even though our understanding is always developing and can always improve, on certain questions a broad consensus than can be found amongst researchers, policy makers and practitioners.

Usually this information is not accessible to a broader public. On the contrary, only the unusual new discoveries receive much attention. Yet, in the field of rehabilitation, reintegration and probation, it is important that knowledge is made accessible to the general public, politicians, policymakers and also to workers in the field; those workers are often experts in local practices but may not always have access to information and research from further afield. Public discussion, decision-making and also professional development and innovation all should take into account both academic and professional knowledge.

To CEP, presenting this evidence seems even more important in a domain in which emotion, intuition and ‘common sense’ seem to dominate the public debate. Therefore it took the initiative to commission the Research Group Working with Mandated Clients of the Hogeschool Utrecht (HU) University for Applied Sciences to collect and organise state-of-the-art scientific information regarding rehabilitation of offenders that is relevant to the general public, politicians, policymakers and probation professionals.

This information is presented in a question and answer format below. Academic knowledge is combined with applied scientific knowledge from the world of community sanctions. Leading experts on the various issues have contributed.

The editorial board consisted of Dr. René Butter of HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Prof Dr. Fergus McNeill from the University of Glasgow and Dr. Ioan Durnescu of the University of Bucharest.

This project has been made possible with the financial support of the Dutch charity organisation Nationale Reclasseringsactie.

Questions (click on the links for the answers)

  1. Why do people offend?
  2. How and why do people stop offending?
  3. What is the impact of the role of probation staff in advising sentencing and in promoting community sanctions and measures?
  4. What is the impact of probation on reducing re-offending and supporting desistance?
  5. What is the impact of probation on satisfying the public’s desire for justice or punishment?
  6. What is the impact of probation on the offender’s social integration (resettlement)?
  7. What is the impact of probation in terms of reparation to victims and communities?
  8. How do people subject to supervision experience it (as punishment, as assistance, as constraint)?
  9. What is the impact of community service?
  10. What are the costs and benefits of probation?

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