The Social Construction of Probation in England and Wales, and the United States: Implications for the Transferability o Probation Practice

Published 17/03/2010
Type Article
Author(s) Jake Phillips
Corresponding Authors Jake Phillips, student of the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge

‘Institutions always have a history, of which they are the products’ (Berger and Luckmann, 1971: 72)

This article argues that the histories of probation must be taken into account when implementing standardised probation practice because the current  configuration of probation still depends on these social and historical conditions. I show this by outlining the origins of probation in England and Wales and the United States before discussing how the two services developed in different ways and were based on varying notions of the offender. I then demonstrate how some of t hese differences have persisted into the early twenty-first century and argue that the origins of the services have impacted on the uptake of evidence based practice, professional ideology and unified services. Finally, by drawing on Berger and Luckmann, and Jones and Newburn, I suggest that a top-down approach of implementing change can undermine and deprecate previous ways of working with offenders and that the origins of community sanctions might militate against any notion of uniform provision.