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A Look Back: Todd R. Clear's Ophelia Twenty Years Later

NCJ Number
Perspectives Volume: 36 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2012 Pages: 70-76
William D. Burrell
Date Published
7 pages
This article re-examines research first presented in 1990 that described a day-in-the-life of Ophelia, a fictionalized county probation officer 20 years into the future.
The intent of this paper is to measure the progress that has been made in corrections regarding the best practices for use by probation and parole officers. In 1990, a leading researcher in the field of community corrections and penology developed and presented a day-in-the-life of Ophelia, a fictional county probation officer. The researcher attempted to determine what Ophelia's day would be like in 2010, 20 years into the future. This paper examines the accuracy of the researcher's predictions. The researcher predicted that 1) specialized non-traditional supervision services would be the norm; 2) the trend towards intermediate sanctions would continue through 2010; 3) traditional probation and parole would handle a decreasing share of the population; 4) the private sector would grow and become a powerful factor; 5) accountability-oriented systems would dominate new technologies; 6) line worker discretion would diminish; 7) treatment would make a comeback; 8) it would overwhelm traditional practices; and 9) labor and management relations would become increasingly strained. The paper discusses in detail the hits and misses regarding the researchers predictions on changes to probation and parole methods used 20 years into the future.