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Probation is a court-ordered form of correctional supervision in which people convicted of a crime are monitored in the community. Although a probation sentence is generally given in lieu of incarceration, there are some circumstances in which a probation sentence can be given following a period of incarceration. Through various approaches designed to reduce the likelihood of recidivism (reoffending), including surveillance of probationers’ activities, probation departments ultimately seek to minimize threats to public safety and security. This entry summarizes the main characteristics of the probation population, the history of probation in the United States, the multiple purposes or goals of probation, and the experiences of both probation officers and individuals subject to probation supervision.

The Probation Population Characteristics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, as ...

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