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Probation and Parole: From Control to Case Management


Historically, probation and parole practices have swung from conservative to progressive extremes, promoting approaches that prioritize control versus case management. The rehabilitative ideal birthed case management strategies that emphasized diversion from prison, individualized assessment, and social service brokerage. The “nothing works” movement saw an era of heightened control that focused on increased monitoring and punishment. This led to a crisis in corrections in which the guiding philosophy of correctional practices was unclear, resulting in atheoretical or logically mis-specified models of probation and parole. Following the era of mass imprisonment, the resulting era of mass supervision has produced a second crisis in corrections; one in which staff must manage rising caseloads with diminished resources. Consequently, contemporary case management is about managing cases rather than correcting them, focusing on efficient processing and administrative requirements rather than individualized treatment. This crisis must be met with system-level reforms for probation and parole to be effective. We recommend an investment in social services and sentencing reforms that will reduce caseloads, and we encourage probation and parole authorities to adhere to the principles of effective correctional intervention, engage in meaningful intervention, use core correctional practices, utilize fitting supervision strategies, receive professional development, and prioritize recidivism reduction.


  • Case management
  • Community corrections
  • Offender supervision
  • Probation and parole

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-77565-0_15
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Correspondence to Lacey Schaefer .

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Schaefer, L., Brewer, S. (2022). Probation and Parole: From Control to Case Management. In: Jeglic, E., Calkins, C. (eds) Handbook of Issues in Criminal Justice Reform in the United States. Springer, Cham.

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