Chair: Ester Blay

Decisions, Culture and Change in Probation (Community Sanctions WG Panel IV)

Building: B
Room: 02


Author: Elke Wienhausen-Knezevic, University of Bern

Title: “Who’S Got the Power?” – Decision-Making in the Context of Non-Compliance and Breach Procedures During Probation. Results From an Empirical Study in Switzerland.
Given the fact, that the number of offenders under supervision has in all European countries outreached the number of prisoners, little is known about decision-making during probation. Thus, the present paper deals with decision-making process in cases of non-compliance (e.g the violation of the probation officer’s instructions or committing a criminal offence) during probation period. Who is the decision-maker in the first place according to the phrase “who’s got the power”? In what way do the different actors influence each other? Are there specific differences within the actual practices between the cantons in the sense of a differing culture of execution? One major concern of the project is to identify patterns of the decision-making practices and the discretionary probation decision. On this behalf we analyzed the dynamics between potential decision makers (judges, correctional services and probation officers) being involved when it comes to enjoin, execute or prolongate the supervision on parole and poten-tial conduct orders in cases of non-compliance or breach procedures. The project is based on the qualitative and quantitative analysis of almost 250 files from male and female conditional-ly released probationers in four cantons in Switzerland. The results presented were generated within the broader research project „Decision Making on Conditional Release and Probation in Switzerland“, which is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
Keywords: Probation, Decision-Making, Qualiative Analysis
Author: Simonas Nikartas, Law Institute of Lithuania

Title: Discretionary Decision Making by Probation Officers in Lithuania: Drifting Between Community Safety and Offender‘S Resocialization.
The Law on Probation of the Republic of Lithuania establishes the principle of balance of public security and resocialization. The application of this principle in practice is closely linked to the discretion of probation officers in deciding on the measures taken by clients, their severity, and intensity, especially in case of violation of probation conditions. Recent changes to the legal regulation have reduced the discretion of probation officers. This paper presents the results of a survey, one of the goals of which is to assess how probation officials tend to respond to different situations of breaches committed by probationers.
Keywords: Probation, Decision Making, Resocialization
Author: Dana Segev, University of Sheffield

Title: Cultures, the Construction of Desister Identities, and Supervision in the Community
Studies of desistance to date have scarcely accounted for the role of cultures and social structures in shaping the dynamics of desistance. In this paper, I begin to address this gap by providing a cross national comparison of probationers who were desisting from crime in England and Israel. I explore the social and political contexts of supervision in the community in each country and how each context influenced participants’ self conceptualisations of their past offending and desistance from crime. I find that each country was inclined to highlight different aspects in regards to crime, offenders, rehabilitation, families, friends, childhood, money, success or failure, ideal life, and social support. Each ‘cultural script’ was woven in probationers’ narratives about their criminal past and sense of identity, as well as ‘oriented’ their desistance processes. That is, the social ‘design’ of an ‘offender-label’ in each country and distinct cultural understandings of ‘offenders’ were associated with participants’ descriptions of the path they sought to take to desist (the ‘how’ of desistance). I conclude the paper with a discussion about the construction of identities in processes of desistance and the construction of avenues out of crime when the cultural attitude around offenders varies.
Keywords: Desistance, Identity construction, Probation, Supervision
Author: Katharina Swirak, University College Cork of Ireland

Title: "Penal Voluntarism in the Republic of Ireland- Some Conceptual Considerations"
The role of voluntary sector organisations (VSOs) in the delivery of community sanctions in the Republic of Ireland has yet to be critically explored and charted empirically. Against the backdrop of the historically unique relationship between the state and church based VSOs in the Republic of Ireland, this paper outlines the contours of the contemporary landscape of partnership between the criminal justice system and VSOs. Particular attention will be paid to the ‘voice’ of the VSO sector in these ‘partnerships’ and the challenge of conducting critical research in a small jurisdiction amongst an even smaller number of organisations and professionals. The second part of the paper will then provide an analysis of several ‘Service Level Agreements’ (SLAs) that regulate the collaboration of the Irish criminal justice system with selected VSOs in the delivery of different community sanctions. More specifically, this analysis will tease out to what extent SLAs are based on principles of marketization and how they engage with a transformative social rights agenda vs. principles of individual responsibilisation. I suggest that a close reading of textual documents such as ‘SLAs’ can provide useful insights into starting to theorise the relationship between the Irish criminal justice system and VSOs and ultimately also shifts in the governance of people involved with the criminal justice system.
Keywords: VSOs and criminal justice, penal drift, community sanctions, Republic of Ireland
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