Many Probations

August 2, 2014 1:00 PM

The contentious history of probation in the U.S.

It all started in 1841 when John Augustus, a 57-year-old Boston boot maker, persuaded a judge to release a drunkard into his custody. The man reappeared before the judge in three weeks, apparently a changed man. But even back then the issue was heated: Augustus grew unwelcome in some courtrooms, with some court officers accusing him of coddling wrongdoers by substituting treatment for punishment.

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