Improving Offender Probation Programs

Many persons convicted of DUI are given little jail time and placed on probationary status with a set of programs to be completed in order to avoid a longer jail stay. Many probationers are required to complete community service, alcohol counseling, and, in many states, must go to a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) program to learn about some of the fatalities caused by drunk drivers.

Most alcohol counseling is done as a group, not individual counseling and the MADD panels consist of victims’ families, not any of the offenders, themselves speaking about the ramifications of their actions. It is in my opinion that counseling done in a group setting only confirms the normalcy of offending, as the offender has many others in the group to reinforce this idea. Conversely, MADD programs do not give offenders a voice and alienate them from the victims and the scenarios involved in DUI deaths.

Conditions of probation should change to implement different strategies of rehabilitation, those that offer individualized counseling to keep offenders apart to alleviate the issue of believing that driving under the influence is normal behavior and a program that allows DUI offenders, causing death to tell their story of how their bad decision making led to said death and how their lives, were also changed negatively forever.

DUI offenders should only have this type of negative interaction with other offenders to both take their crimes more seriously and be counseled separately to avoid dismissing their crimes as acceptable. These two approaches should be marketed with a title that will be acceptable to its goals and understood by the community served. “There is More Than One Way to Lose a Life” is an acceptable title. This conveys that there are many victims of these crimes, including the offender.

Counselors should be trained with specific guidelines to deal with offenders and chose those, who have a story involving the devastation caused by their arrest and the circumstances around them that is particularly poignant and at the end of counseling sessions for a particular cohort, those with these stories should tell them to both the other offenders and their families. No interaction between offenders should be allowed during these narrative sessions. Pilot programs can be set up and research done to contrast and compare current probation programs with the suggested.

With the proper grant money allocated for these, implementing these changes can be gauged and should very likely show improvement from the current state of probation conditions. References University of Illinois at Springfield: Center for State Policy and Leadership, Institute for Legal and Policy Studies. (2003). “THE ILLINOIS DUI ASSESSMENT INSTRUMENT PROJECT”. Accessed Online http://cspl. uis. edu/ILAPS/ASUDSRI/documents/TheIllinoisDUIAssessmentInstrumentProject. pdf. Last Accessed 14, October 2008.