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USE OF VOLUNTEERS IN PROBATION - A NATIONAL SYNTHESIS

NCJ Number
65170
Date Published
January 1979
Length
15 pages
Author(s)
E W CARLSON, C W ESKRIDGE
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Annotation
THIS ARTICLE COMPARES AND CONTRASTS PREVIOUS RESEARCH FINDINGS ON USE OF VOLUNTEERS IN PROBATION IN ORDER TO DEVELOP SOME GUIDELINES FOR FUTURE VOLUNTEER EFFORTS.
Abstract
ALTHOUGH VOLUNTEER-IN-PROBATION (VIP) PROGRAMS WERE RARE FROM 1900 THROUGH UNTIL 1960, RECENT ESTIMATES REPORTS SOME 300,000 VOLUNTEERS NOW SERVING 2,000 JURISDICTIONS AND CONTRIBUTING OVER 20 MILLION HOURS OF SERVICE PER YEAR. THESE PROGRAMS OPERATE ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT CERTAIN TYPES OF PROBATIONERS CAN BE HELPED BY VOLUNTEER SERVICES AND THAT SUCH SERVICES CAN BE PROVIDED AT MINIMAL DIRECT COST TO THE TAXPAYER. THE EFFECTIVENESS OF VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS ON SOCIETY CAN BE TESTED BY COMPARING RECIDIVISM RATES AND SOCIAL ATTITUDE SCORES OF PROBATIONERS INVOLVED IN VOLUNTEER PROJECTS WITH THOSE OF PROBATIONERS NOT INVOLVED AND BY EXAMINING SEVERAL COLLATERAL INDICATORS OF IMPACT. A REVIEW OF 38 STUDIES OF VIP PROGRAMS DEFINES THE PRIMARY INDICATORS OF IMPACT AS RECIDIVISM AND SOCIAL ATTITUDES. OF THE STUDIES REVIEWED, 22 WERE CLASSIFIED AS NONEXPERIMENTAL REVIEWS, 7 AS QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL EFFORTS, AND 9 AS EXPERIMENTAL DESIGNS. FINDINGS SUGGEST THAT THERE IS NO CLEAR-CUT EVIDENCE THAT VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS ARE ANY MORE OR LESS SUCCESSFUL THAN OTHER PROGRAM ALTERNATIVES. VOLUNTEER PROJECTS, HOWEVER, SHOULD BE UNDERTAKEN WITH EXTREME CAUTION, AND OPERATIONS SHOULD FACILITATE PROMPT PROCESSING AND ASSIGNMENT OF APPLICANTS. EFFORTS SHOULD BE MADE TO RECRUIT VOLUNTEERS WITH SOCIOECONOMIC BACKGROUNDS SIMILAR TO THOSE OF THE PROBATIONER POPULATION, WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION GIVEN TO THE FEMALE PROBATIONER. IN ADDITION, PROBATIONERS WHO ARE NOT STRONGLY MOTIVATED TO PARTICIPATE SHOULD BE SCREENED OUT. REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (AOP)
Date Created: December 30, 1979