“Has your address changed?”
“Has your phone number changed?”
“Has your cell phone number changed?”
“Have you missed any court ordered payments?”
“Have you missed any court appointed counselling sessions?”
“Have you had any contact with law enforcement or been arrested?”
That’s right, got to see my PO tomorrow.
It’s down to once every six months til I get off paper in 2017. In between, I’m on internet reporting. Same questions, then hit “Submit.” Yep, probation and parole have found a new use for the term “submit.” It also costs more money…
Probation and parole were not always viewed in negative terms. In fact, the people who didn’t like probation and parole when they were started were jailers and police.
Probation wasn’t even started by the system. A Boston shoe repair man named John Augustus came up with the idea in 1841, when he convinced the court to release a drunk into his care instead of sending the dude to prison. His work to get the man straight were successful, and he took on other people, and started working with youth a few years later. His goal was always to help the person make a turn around. Later his vision became part of the system, but not always with the same intention.
Parole started in an English penal colony (that’s a whole island that serves as a prison/jail- sort of like Riker’s) at Norfolk Island, 1,000 miles off the coast of Australia, by Alexander Maconochie. He believed that if you gave people indefinite sentences, and then gave them time to earn good time through work, study and behavior, you could release them based on progress. The word “Parole” comes from the French language for “Word” because a parolee honored his word by good behavior (I would have trouble saying “parole up, bruh”).
The probation and parole systems weren’t designed to be against the client, they were there to help. It wasn’t supposed to be “tail ‘em, nail ‘em and jail ‘em.” And there are efforts around the country in places like New York City and Georgia to return to that sense of helping. Shoot, in the original parole system, even cops helped you find a job.
Meanwhile, there are good POs and not so good POs. Either way, I have to submit (the first way they meant it) to the system. Compliance is a better word, but sometimes it can feel like submission. And when it does, I try to take responsibility for my actions, do what I’m supposed to, and thank God I’ve had POs who were good. Because this too shall pass, and I have surrounded myself with people who support the positive changes in my life. I can bounce frustrations off of them, knowing they won’t tell me to do something stupid like not show up, or not hit “submit” on my e-form. And I can be part process started by Augustus and Maconochie, and work for the good of those coming home behind me.