In foreign law, there are penal institutions that allow not really apply the prescribed punishment for the offense but to replace it with measures under criminal law under certain conditions. These institutions include the institute of probation, institutions of parole and conditional (unconditional) release from punishment. Probation and parole are effective means of improvement discipline in prisons and re-socialization of convicted persons due to their methods of support and strengthening social position.
A legislative strengthening of re-socialization of convicts as the purpose of criminal punishment would achieve its other goal – special crime prevention. Society is interested in the fundamental alteration of consciousness of the convicted person. Therefore, the legislator should not only be limited to the achievement of correction but also require consolidation in the identity of such properties and habits that prevent the offense. The state should take all possible measures of re-socialization that will prevent crime. Re-socialization is not the return of the offender into society with the whole system of broken relationships and distorted value orientations. It is the restoration or creation of positive guiding behavior, a new system of values and social adaptation of persons, who have committed crimes.
Today, one of the areas of public administration reform of the criminal justice system is creation of a national probation service. Probation services as the organizational structure of the corresponding functions are an integral part of any national criminal justice system. The institute of probation exists in many foreign countries, including England, the USA, and France. However, if in England and the United States this institution functions for many decades, it is relatively new for the countries of the continental legal system.
Probation is a conditional failure to perform punishment or conditional failure to appoint punishment with placement of the convicted person under personal supervision of special officer (agent, assistant commissioner of probation) for a specified period. The latter monitors behavior of a supervised person, discharge of certain obligations and conditions of probation and ensures corrective course (Kokemuller). As a rule, probation involves the following conditions: failing to perform new crimes and performance of obligations, which are specifically identified by the court in the sentencing. They include passing the appropriate course of treatment, continuing professional training, refraining from visiting the prohibited places (places of entertainment, casinos, etc.) and possessing firearms and other weapons, compensating the caused damage, informing the court of any change to their address and work, appearing in the court on a call of an agent of probation, etc. If these conditions are fulfilled, the legal consequences of probation would be complete exemption from a sentence for crime and absence of imprisonment. In the United States, the possibility of appointing probation is provided by the legislation of all the states of the federation and as an alternative to imprisonment. Often, probation is included in the penal system, and as in its rigor, this measure is sometimes no different from a number of them. It does not apply to persons, who are convicted of offenses, which are punishable by death, life imprisonment or imprisonment for a longer period. In some states, there are additional conditions for probation: absence of a criminal record in the past, reimbursement of all legal costs, and the fact that punishment does not exceed ten years in prison. According to Probation and community corrections, probation is a period of testing of offender’s character and ability to meet particular requirements.
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Probation has a number of benefits. It is aimed at promoting the development of social adequacy and self-confidence. Moreover, probation does not allow the offender to be in the company of habitual offenders, which inevitably would lead him to prison. It allows the offender not to leave the work and simultaneously observes his actions. Moreover, this system provides official channels of advice and support. Therefore, the most important benefit of probation is breaking the chain between crime and punishment. The experience has shown that the widespread use of imprisonment does not give a positive effect and only leads to the criminalization of society as the place of deprivation of liberty by its nature is not the way to reform people. Moreover, it provides saving of costs, as employed probationers pay taxes, which contributes to the tax revenues, “because probation is significantly cheaper than incarceration, it can be a cost-effective form of rehabilitation” (Priority issues: adult probation).
On the one hand, probation combines elements of control. Supervision, which is provided by probation, reduces the risk of committing future crimes (Benefits of supervision, 2000). On the other hand, it is focused more on the individual work with prisoners, their maintenance and support than on the punishment. Re-socialization of criminals is its main goal. A person who has committed a crime has an opportunity to reflect his behavior and draw conclusions. In this case, he is not cut off from the family and familiar surroundings, and therefore he does not fall out of society. There is a common interest of a criminal and the state (society) in this approach. Maintaining a huge number of convicts in prisons is also a burden to the state budget and, in particular, to its law-abiding citizens as taxpayers. Thus, the main benefits of probation are reducing relapses, budget savings, the opportunity to get an education, profession, employment, and treatment.
The application of parole has also particular advantages as it is the act of encouraging prisoners. It has an important educational value. Parole is considered to be one of the most effective means to promote lawful behavior. Parole is the early release of a convicted person from further punishment under conditions of not committing a new crime for the unserved part of the sentence, preventing breaches of public order, as well as performance of the duties, which were entrusted to him by the court in the application of parole. Thus, this type of release from punishment should be considered conditional.