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Probation is a disposition within the criminal justice system whereby an offender serves a term of supervision in the community under the authority of a probation agency. Probation is typically served in lieu of sentence to jail or prison. Unlike parole, probation is generally a sentence unto itself rather than a period of supervision completed after a prison term and is often conceptualized as a type of diversion from incarceration.

Probation is the most common criminal disposition in many nations, including the United States and Canada; for example, as of 2015, 3.8 million of the approximately 7 million adults in the U.S. criminal justice system were on probation. Although probation has been used informally in the United States for more than 150 years, it has undergone ...

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