Probation Is Part of the Criminal Justice Problem

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The probation system in the United States is broken — prison and jail populations and correctional budgets have skyrocketed, and the system is too underfunded to function properly. At their peak, the numbers of individuals on probation have exceeded 5 million, double the number of people in prison and jail in America.

According to a report by The Executive Session on Community Corrections, entitled Less Is More: How Reducing Probation Populations Can Improve Outcomes, since probation is the most underfunded of agencies within the criminal justice system, those sentenced to probation can run into difficulty even if managing to avoid jail completely. The authors find that probation is actually a key driver of mass incarceration in the United States, and nearly as many people are imprisoned for violations of probation conditions as for new offenses. Also, since probation brings with it the responsibility of paying for probation supervision fees, court costs, urinalysis tests, and electronic monitoring fees and other fines, this can lead to impoverishment and increased additional crime.

If you are accused of a crime in Illinois, it is a frightening and serious situation since a conviction can negatively impact your life forever, even if you wind up on probation.  At this sensitive time, you need all the help you can get.

The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., understand the seriousness of your situation and offer aggressive representation for clients facing criminal charges.  We know the courts and the criminal justice system and how to plea bargain, negotiate guidelines and recognize when to take your case to trial.

We offer a free consultation, so contact us for help today at 630-305-0222 if you have been accused of any criminal charges.

What is Probation Under Illinois Law?

You may be put on probation by an Illinois criminal court if you have been convicted of certain relatively minor crimes, or you may receive a combination of a shorter jail sentence and probation.  If a judge sentences you to probation, you will be able to remain in the community instead of serving the time in jail. Usually, probation lasts from one to three years, or longer, depending on the circumstances.

While on probation, you have to follow certain rules and guidelines.  These include:

  • Reporting to an assigned probation officer who will monitor your compliance with requirements according to a regular schedule. For minimum-level probation, this may be once every three months; for medium-level probation, once a month; and for maximum-level, twice a month.
  • Appearing at all court hearings.
  • Refraining from committing further crimes, using or selling illegal drugs, or drinking.
  • Attending drug or alcohol treatment and/or education programs and undergoing drug and alcohol testing.
  • Paying fines.
  • Avoiding going to certain places or seeing certain people and moving or leaving the state without court permission.
  • Completing community service.
  • Being subject to home confinement and curfews or mental health counseling and educational programs.

Illinois also has an Intensive Probation program for high-risk or violent offenders. In addition to many of the above requirements, intensive probation supervision requires that defendants be subjected to a program similar to home arrest, including more frequent reporting, additional community service and random home visits.

There may also be additional terms for those convicted of certain crimes (sex crimes, drugs, domestic violence, gang membership) and those who have mental health problems.

What Happens if the Terms of Probation are Violated?

Violations of one or more terms of probation may bring a warning, or your probation officer may have you attend a probation violation hearing. The court may impose additional terms, have you pay more fines, or revoke your probation.  If probation is revoked, you might have to serve time in jail, up to the time of your original sentence.

Suggestions to Improve the Probation System

To improve probation problems, the report suggests that probation departments should:

  • Utilize “light-touch” mechanisms such as kiosks or computerized monitoring for lower-risk individuals
  • Shorten probation terms to no more than is necessary to achieve the goals of sentencing
  • Pursue early discharge for individuals who comply with the regulations of supervision
  • Use supervision for those who most need it, only for the time period they require supervision without negatively impacting public safety
  • Use only conditions required to achieve the objectives of supervision
  • Grant early discharge for those who exhibit significant progress
  • Eliminate or reduce charging supervision fees
  • Use savings from reducing probation and parole populations to improve community-based services and supports for people under supervision.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.

When you are accused of a crime in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can find.  The criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. We examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available, and work hand in hand with our clients throughout the criminal process to come up with an effective defense strategy. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.

We are aggressive litigators and will work with you to answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case.  We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Attorney Marc Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Chicago and the entire State of Illinois for over 30 years. Mr. Wolfe has tried over 300 cases to verdict and represents clients facing investigation or prosecution for a broad range of state and federal criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, sexual abuse, drugs, marijuana and white collar crimes. [ Attorney Bio ]