Probation is universally accepted as an effective and scientific method for prevention of crime and delinquency. The age-old idea was that the offender should be confined to the prison and kept away from the community as long as possible. But, in course of time, it has been realized that the protection of society is better ensured if the offender is corrected and reformed through individualized treatments.
However, it has been perceived that all human beings do not respond in the same manner to a given stimuli. Two individuals may commit the same crime but each act differs from the other in its social, economics, psychological and environmental ramification. This basic understanding has led to the innovation of a number of treatment method for offenders.
Prison or correctional institutions are no longer regarded as custodial institution only but also as treatment and training centres for those who fall foul with laws. But, in due course it was realized that prisons do not serve the purpose of training and rehabilitation of all categories of offenders. Therefore, in course of time, various non-institutional methods of treatment for offenders have been introduced eg: probation, parole, premature release, half-way houses etc. There are all community based non institutional treatment methods.
Thus, Probation is a non-institutional treatment method designed to facilitate the social re-adjustment of offenders. It developed as an alternative to imprisonment. Probation is a method of dealing with specially selected offenders and consists of the conditional suspension of punishment while the offender is placed under the personal supervision of the probation officer and is given individualized treatment.
The length of the probation varies and is determined by the court. Moreover, probation is the application of modern scientific casework to individuals, outside institution with the authority of the law behind it. It calls for the careful study of the individual and intensive supervision by the competent, trained probation officers.
The object of probation is the ultimate re-establishment of the offenders in the community. The law helps him to help himself to erase the stigma of conviction and gives him the guidance of the probation officer.
The supervisory function of a Probation Officer are protecting the community and helping individual under care. The probation officer helps the probationer to become law-abiding and stable. During the probation period, the probation officer maintains contact with the offender to ensure compliance with the rules and regulations and also provides various types of assistance to him.