Expansion of Probation in Saskatchewan: Effects of the Practices of Probation Officers
Bulin, Melissa Jane
The present study was a historical analysis of the expansion of probation in Saskatchewan from 1946 to 1978. The purpose was to examine the effect that the practices of probation officers' had on the expansion of this program. Based on Cohen's professional interests model, it was argued that probation officers caused probation to expand because of their own interests. The primary mechanism was classification. It is believed by most that a professional's knowledge enabled them to best decide where offenders should be placed. An important effect of classification is iatrogenic feedback loops. This refers to the continual creation of new programs to accommodate offenders not already reached or to 'save' others from the damaging effects of the previous system. It was pointed out, however, that professional growth is limited by professionals within the system, specifically judges, lawyers, and police officers. The effect of the political economic context and community associations on probation expansion also needs to be taken into consideration. Numerous government documents and archival papers were collected and a content analysis was conducted. The documents pertaining to probation officers were analyzed according to themes indicating their desire to expand the program. The documents relating to the other groups were analyzed according to statements indicating their support of the program. The result of the analysis indicated that probation officers were interested in expanding probation and were supported in their efforts by the other groups. A historical account was then given of the expansion of probation from 1946 to 1978. The findings of the present study indicate that, although probation officers were not solely responsible for the expansion of probation, they did play an important role. Their influence on underestimated.