The United States criminal law has various penalties to which an individual who commits a crime is subjected. In addition to fines and imprisonment, a standard option is a probationary sentence, which implies placing a person on probation. Probation can also be used as an addition to the main punishment or within the punishment mitigation process. This paper will look at the details and specifics of probation and probation officers’ duties in the state of Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin, the Department of Corrections is the chief governing authority of the correctional system. The Department of Community Corrections within it handles probation, parole, and community supervision. The probation organization in this state is equivalent to similar processes in other states (Kaeble 9). Initially, when the court selects probation as a measure of punishment, it identifies additional conditions or actions that must be met. It may include, for example, mandatory counseling sessions with a psychologist or addiction counselor, payment of a fine, and an additional education or work program.
If the probation is violated, it can be revoked, and the person will be returned to court for sentencing or to a correctional facility. Under the Wisconsin Statute, individuals charged with sex offenses are subject to mandatory registration and cannot be released from probation (Williams et al. 23). Aside that, if a number of conditions are met, probation can be terminated earlier. To do so, the offender must have served at least half of his or her probation, met all the requirements set by the court and the Department of Corrections, have no warrants, and have restitution and all charges paid.
All rules and conditions of supervision are explained to the convict by the probation officer, as well called an agent, at the first meeting. The agent designates the frequency and location of the meetings and checks attendance at additional activities if they have been scheduled. He also keeps track of the person’s employment on probation and supervision fees: in Wisconsin, supervision fees are mandatory and required by law. In case of financial problems, the probation officer can help with a payment plan or address the court for deferral.
When meeting with the offender, the agent executes all necessary documents, can discuss progress in compliance with the conditions of supervision and can advise on any issue related to this process. The agent visits his wards’ place of residence on a mandatory basis to familiarize with their living conditions and has the right to take a urine sample to test for the presence of prohibited substances (Kaeble 10). In cases of misunderstanding, the probation officers can accept the form “Offender Request for Administrative Review”, completed by the offender (Williams et al. 36). That form is submitted to agent’s supervisor for review afterwards.
Wisconsin probation levels are also similar to other states. The probation duration ranges from six to thirty-six months. The most lenient regime is informal, unsupervised probation given exclusively to offenders with the lowest possible risk level. It still includes payment of all court-ordered bills and fines (Williams et al. 1). The regular or formal level is the standard type of probation, which includes constant supervision by a probation officer. It also has stricter court-ordered requirements, such as sobriety supervision, restitution payments to victims, and counseling attendance.
The most uncompromising level of supervision is also called community supervision. It includes all of the restrictions of the regular level and, in addition, location control. The perpetrator is wearing a device that reports its exact coordinates, which allows offenders to be monitored around the clock. It helps to establish, for example, a zoning control or a local curfew and enforce it. Furthermore, probation can be specific if assigned for a certain crime. Accordingly, such terms include additional mandatory conditions, such as dealing with addictions or listing under state sex offenders.
Probation conditions are often related to the type of crime the offender has committed. Typical conditions of probation compliance may include (Williams et al. 1):
- Work conditions – mandatory work hours and a minimum total number of hours each week;
- Restitution and fines – failure to pay monthly payments without reasonable cause usually results in revocation of probation in the state of Wisconsin;
- Curfew – being at home permanently during certain hours;
- Residence – depending on the crime, the offender may be prohibited from living or staying a certain distance from the victim or places like schools and colleges;
- Environment – the court or agent may impose a restriction or prohibition on the defendant’s communication with certain acquaintances or friends;
- Traveling outside the state or driving and owning a motor vehicle is also possible only with the written permission of the probation officer.
Probation, while still not being a prison sentence, is designed to limit a person’s freedom. Additional conditions and fines are designed to increase control over the process. In this way, people who commit non-serious or incidental crimes and are sentenced to probation save the taxpayers’ money allocated to incarceration. At the same time, strict supervision does not prevent offenders from socializing and remaining in familiar conditions conducive to behavior correction.
Kaeble, Danielle. “Probation and Parole in the United States, 2020.” Bureau of Justice Statistics, December (2021). Web.
Williams, Jared, Vincent N. Schiraldi, and Kendra Bradner. “The Wisconsin Community Corrections Story.” Columbia University Library, Web.