Probation is court-ordered supervision of youth in the community that can last from months to years. It is the most common experience young people have within juvenile justice systems and places restrictions on what young people can do, who they can see and where they can go. Probation imposes rules — including curfew, school attendance and drug-testing mandates — on youth. Breaking these rules can result in further restrictions, return to court and even incarceration.
Why Transform Juvenile Probation?
Evidence shows surveillance- and compliance-oriented probation doesn’t rehabilitate youth despite the dedication and good intentions of probation professionals. As it’s currently designed, probation often pulls young people — even those with first-time or low-level offenses — deeper into the legal system without offering the support and guidance that would put them on the right path and reduce the likelihood of re-arrest. Probation also plays a large role in the continuing overrepresentation of Black, Indigenous and Latino youth in youth justice systems.
What Is Juvenile Probation Transformation?
Probation transformation fundamentally reimagines how probation officers work and with whom they work. Probation transformation examines and addresses the barriers to getting probation right, from an organization’s structure and culture to resources and relationships. For young people to thrive, we need to respond more effectively when they make mistakes, even when they cause harm. This means moving away from a culture of punishment toward more developmentally appropriate responses, including options that keep more kids away from the justice system.