Do Pro-Social Ties Predict Probation Success or Failure?

Meredith Huey, University of Georgia
John A. Humphrey, St. Anselm College

Approximately 60% of probationers successfully complete their sentence. Deterrence theories do not adequately explain why some probationers succeed and others are rearrested, reconvicted, and reincarcerated. This study suggests that informal controls such as ties to conventional society increase the likelihood of probation success. According to Hirschi's (1969) social control/bond theory, social bonds to conventional society including marriage, education, and employment decrease the likelihood of crime and other forms of deviant behavior. Among probationers, these pro-social ties may translate into fewer violations of probation, successful completion of a probation sentence, or desistence from criminal behavior. Preliminary results of this study reveal thgat probationers who are unmarried or who have less than a high school education are significantly less likely to experience succesfful probation outcoems. Probationers with less than a high school education also have a significantly greater number of positive drug test results. Employment status was not found to significantly affect probation success. The implications of the findings for criminological theory,c rime-control policy, and probation practices are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006