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From the Archives (Federal Probation May-June 1937): Is There a Measure of Probation Success?

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 77 Issue: 3 Dated: December 2013 Pages: 38-40
Bennet Mead
Date Published
December 2013
3 pages

This article was first published in 1937 and examines the need for developing a measure of probation success.


This article, which was first published in 1937, examined the need for developing a measure of probation success. As noted in the article, the true concept of success is one of positive achievement. Just stating that a certain percentage of subjects achieved a level of success does not reveal the actual extent of the achievement or lack of achievement. For this reason, the author proposes a new method for measuring probation success among offenders. The author suggests that probation departments implement a thorough system of case study for each individual under supervision in which the individual offender is the unit of evaluation. Under this system, probation departments would evaluate the success of the offender at various stages during the probation period. This system would allow for a more accurate description of probation success. A review of cases in the United States Probation System found however, that this system failed to yield satisfactory results due to the tendency of probation officers to be overly-optimistic about appraising the outcomes of their work.