From the inside: The meaning of probation to Probationers

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probation, correctional goals


Beyond considerations of relative punitiveness, very little is known about how offenders understand the experience of serving a probation sentence. The current study surveyed offenders currently on probation to assess the extent to which they believed their sentence was rehabilitative, incapacitative, deserved, and a deterrent to future offending. Perceptions that probation served no purpose and that it represented a game of manipulation and impression management were also investigated. The results showed that most probationers believed that their sentence was a deterrent, and it was rehabilitative and deserved. They also felt that probation served multiple purposes, and a minority of respondents perceived that there was no point to being on probation. The implications of these findings are discussed.