"Probation, intimately tied to the work of the Judiciary,
is intended to give offenders
a second chance-to help them reclaim their lives and become productive citizens. As
we have learned from our drug court programs, close monitoring can reduce recidivism.
So can probation, with close monitoring of curfews, drug tests, community service and
other release conditions. Offender accountability is the key: accountability for past
mistakes; for keeping appointments with judges, probation officers and case workers;
for keeping promises to do better.
Under current law, the State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives has
a general supervisory role in this area. In actuality, however, New York’s probation
departments are operated and administered locally. Critically overburdened and underfinanced,
many probation agencies have too few officers, too few caseworkers and little
modern technology to enforce probation conditions. And because resources vary from
county to county, so does consistent enforcement of probation policies. The result is a
widespread perception that, at least in some parts of New York State, probation loses
precious opportunities to end the cycle of crime. While State operation of probation
holds the promise of consistency across New York’s 62 counties, questions also linger
over whether local probation agencies should be in the Executive or the Judicial Branch.
In New York, we’ve had both models. Which approach is better merits further study.
To address the issue of strengthening probation, I announce today a Task Force on
the Future of Probation in New York State, led by former State Senator John R. Dunne,
an outstanding Albany attorney who also served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil
Rights in the U.S. Department of Justice. It is time for a new era of State responsibility
- Taken from Chief Judge Kaye's 2006 State of the Judiciary Address