The Effectiveness of Felony Probation: Results From an Eastern State

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Data from New Jersey were used to examine the effectiveness of felony probation. Examination of more than 2,000 burglars, robbers, and controlled substance offenders placed on probation in 1976-1977 showed that their recidivism at three, four, and approximately 10 years after sentencing ranged from approximately one-third to more than half arrested and about 10 percent imprisoned. Prior convictions, type of offense, age, race, the Greenwood prediction device, use of heroin, and employment were statistically significant correlates of recidivism. The major conclusion is that probation is an acceptable sentencing alternative for some felony offenders in some states but that recidivism rates can be alarmingly high for particular categories of offenders. In addition, probation officials should devote some attention to the needs of probationers in such problem areas as employment and drug abuse.