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Inside Supervision - A Thematic Analysis of Interviews With Probationers

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 46 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1982) Pages: 40-46
Date Published
7 pages
Interviews with 57 probationers revealed that their perceptions of the best possible probation situation centered around five themes: flexibility, assistance, control, support, and autonomy.
The randomly selected probationers were from two New Jersey counties. Tape-recorded interviews elicited their definitions of what was important to them. Those who expressed flexibility concerns felt that rules, especially those that could result in the revocation of probation, should not be invoked uniformly. They described a good probation officer as one who understood that probation was only one aspect of a probationer's life. The subjects who expressed concerns with assistance wanted their probation officers to help them solve such life problems as employment, education, housing, financial management, and health. Those who valued control perceived rules, regulations, and other aspects of probation as necessary and desirable. Subjects who voiced concerns about support desired probation officers who would listen to them and show interest in their lives. In contrast, those who were concerned with autonomy felt resentful toward the restrictions imposed by probation and perceived probation officers' interest as prying into their private lives. Overall, the subjects were most concerned with warm supportive relationships with their officers, including help with personal problems; freedom, minimal restrictions, and personal respect; and pliable rules and regulations enforced by an officer willing to make schedule adjustments when necessary. The dimensions developed from the interviews may be used for classifying clients according to their major needs and assigning them to probation officers which match their needs. Tables and a list of 11 references are provided.

Date Published: January 1, 1982