When people are convicted of a crime, there are a number of sentencing possibilities. The most obvious is incarceration in a jail (generally for 364 days or less) or a prison (on year or more). If someone has already served time in a prison, they will likely reach a point where they will be considered for parole, or early release. Other people convicted of lesser crimes may be offered a period of supervision in lieu of incarceration which is probation. House arrest is an interim measure between incarceration and parole. People who have been charged but not yet sentenced may be out on bail, with conditions of release they must abide by to remain in the community while they await trial or sentencing.
Early release from prison contingent on good behavior while incarcerated, amount of time served, and the degree of crowding in the prison. Parolees will be given specific conditions to abide by, they will meet with a parole officer regularly, and are expected to work, or attend school, or care of their families, and become productive and law abiding. They are subject to random field checks, in which their parole officer will visit them unannounced, have them blow in an alcosensor, search their home, and question them re: work, any drug or alcohol use, or any contact with law enforcement.
Conditions which may be very similar to parole are imposed, but this is for persons who have not been incarcerated.
- House arrest
this can literally be confinement to a residence, or permission to move about in the community for good reason. E.g., work school medical or dental appointment, counseling, court, or other legal appointment. Several hours a week may be assigned for errands, and if an offender is well behaved they may receive pleasure passes, which means they can go for a walk or bicycle ride, work out, go to a restaurant or movie. Or some other approved leisure activity.
- Conditions of release
Persons who have been charged with a crime, but not sentenced as they are awaiting trial, or a plea bargain, may have to abide by conditions similar to parole/probation, or house arrest.
People on supervision, which is a general term for all of the above, do not always follow the rules. They break curfew, go out of bounds, leave the state without a travel pass, get drunk, get high, associate with other offenders, or have unreported contact with police. Sometimes they are caught; sometimes they get away with it for a while. If they are caught by their PO or law enforcement, they can receive a VOP (Violation of Parole/Probation) which means a sanction of some sort. This could include having to do hours of community service or work crew, wearing an electronic ankle monitor, additional time on supervision, or incarceration.
What do you do if you are a family member, watching yet another high stress and trying situation with a husband, wife, son, daughter braking the rules and not being held accountable? What do you do if you are a neighbor, anyone a single mom with small children, and a sex offender of violent offender living next door on supervision? Or landlord? Offenders need to be held accountable if they are going to have any hope of getting out of a criminal lifestyle. The people in the community have the right to safety and security and to live in an orderly and peaceful environment. When this is comprised, there are options.
How to Report Parole or Probabtion Violation?
A report can be made to the parole/probation officer in the case of someone on parole/probation/house arrest. For someone on conditions of release, the court clerk, or if this is a case you are the victim of, the vic5ims advocate at the prosecutor’s office. This can be done with a phone call, though if you use a landline or cell, your name and number will come up on the caller ID of the other party. You can specifically inform the PO that you want to remain anonymous stressing any concerns you have for your safety. An email can be sent, which of course will have your return address unless you are using a disposable email. A handwritten letter, enveloped, stamped, and mailed without a return address is another option.
This may not be that straightforward. If this is a family member it will be much more complicated. If your goal is to keep yourself and the offender safe, you may be able to restore the relationship in the future. If you are coming from a place of vengeance, this will be a deal breaker.
The potential cost
- “Snitches get stiches and wind up in ditches” is a frequent refrain. A report may not stay anonymous, or the source may be obvious to the offender. Danger from an offender to you or your family is a reality that has to be considered.
- Loss of friendship or family relationship If the person you are reporting is a family member
The potential payoff
- Offender accountability: The only way habitual offenders change is if they are held responsible for their crimes.
- No enabling: This goes with accountability. Family members tend to enable the worst behaviors of those closest to them. You can love someone and hold them responsible at the same time.
- Setting limits and boundaries. If you are being hurt, exploited, or otherwise victimized, this is a way to let someone know it won’t be tolerated.
- Community safety and Personal safety. Some people get paroled when they shouldn’t and are an ongoing danger to the community.
- Saving a life. If drugs are involved, getting a violation may interrupt a potentially fatal descent into their addiction.
For the safety of the community, yourself, and your family, and to preserve order in a society, criminal offenders must be held accountable. When offenders know they cannot step outside the boundaries of the law, they may start modifying their behavior for the better.