Probation departments, like a number of other longstanding agencies, function within a framework of statutes, policies and practices that were built up over the course of many years. Typically, there has been little time or effort to reflect on that framework to determine how well it is working and whether it functions in a manner that is optimal. Further, a culture of doing things “the way we’ve always done them” often permeates daily operations despite changes that may be designed to improve practices. Since 2008, the Models for Change initiative has supported the development of work in this arena. This support has provided opportunities for the conduct of probation reviews in several jurisdictions, resulting in the development of publications that provide guidance on the recommended process.

Probation Review Guidebook
By Janet K. Wiig and John A. Tuell (Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, 2011)

Probation Review Implementation: How Best Practices Meet Everyday Practices
By Dr. John S. Ryals, Jr. (Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, 2013)

The Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice provides technical assistance to support the successful application of its resources to jurisdictions seeking reform. Each jurisdiction identifies the most critical issues that confront their department and is guided through steps to create a carefully tailored work plan to address them. The core elements of such a plan include program planning and implementation, best practices and benchmarking, performance measurement and client outcomes, and intra- and interagency work processes. A probation review is an exciting opportunity for the principals involved in the management and day-to-day operation of a probation department to assess how they are doing in relation to their goals and objectives and to devise strategies for improved performance and outcomes.