Probation, Reformation, and Parole

February 13, 1937

Report Outline
Penal Reform in State Legislatures
Need for Revision of Probation Systems
Prison Classification and Education
Inadequacy of State Parole Systems

Penal Reform in State Legislatures

Crisis Caused by Stoppage of Prison Industry

Proposals for revision of penal systems and of probation and parole programs will be brought forward in nearly half of the 43 state legislatures meeting in regular session this year. Such proposals will call for expansion of classification and educational facilities, construction of new types of prison buildings, reorganization of prison industry, and establishment or extension of probation and parole facilities. Critical prison conditions, due to overcrowding and to idleness among inmates, increase the likelihood of favorable action on proposed reforms in state methods of dealing with offenders against the law.

Public attention was drawn to the need for penal reform by the series of prison riots and outbreaks which took place in all parts of the country in 1929 and 1930. In the latter year, reorganization of the federal penal system and extension of probation and parole facilities was authorized by Congress. In 1931, after the first comprehensive survey of state penal institutions, probation, and parole ever carried out in the United States, President Hoover's Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, headed by George W. Wicker-sham, reported that:

The present prison system is antiquated and inefficient. It does not reform the criminal. It fails to protect society. There is reason to believe that it contributes to the increase of crime by hardening the prisoner. We are convinced that a new type of penal institution must be developed, one that is new in spirit, in method, and in objective.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Criminal Sentencing
Mar. 18, 2022  Wrongful Convictions
Nov. 05, 2004  Sentencing Debates
May 10, 2002  Three-Strikes Laws
Feb. 12, 1999  Plea Bargaining
May 26, 1995  Mandatory Sentencing
Jul. 22, 1994  Crime Victims’ Rights
Jun. 14, 1974  Plea Bargaining
Feb. 13, 1937  Probation, Reformation, and Parole
Sentencing and Corrections