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Mr. RABAUT. We had an example of that in Detroit lately.
Judge Biggs. Well, we haven't lost very many in the third circuit, but I think the dam is about to break. For example, the chief probation officer in the District of New Jersey, who is a person of a great deal of experience and who has been a long time in the service, who is at the present time getting $3,700, feels that salaries should be increased.
Mr. KERR. They keep a docket, do they not?
Mr. RABAUT. What is the work of a probation officer, and the qualifications that he should have? And what are the salaries that are paid by the States for similar work?
Judge Biggs. I will put the first on the record, and I can supply the second.
(The matter referred to is as follows:)
STANDARDS OF QUALIFICATIONS
The standards of qualifications for probation officers are high, the principal requirements recommended by the Judicial Conference of Senior Circuit Judges at its September 1942 session being as follows:
(1) Exemplary character. 12) Good health and vigor.
(3) An age at the time of appointment within the range of 24 to 45 years, inclusive.
(4) A liberal education of not less than collegiate grade, evidenced by a bachelor's degree (B. A. or B. S.) from a college of recognized standing, or its equivalent.
(5) Experience in personnel work for the welfare of others of not less than 2 years, or 2 years of specific training for welfare work (a) in a school of social service of recognized standing, or (b) in a professional course of a college or university of recognized standing.
A probation officer does two things; first of all, he gives in most instances, certainly in the metropolitan areas, in almost every case a presentence investigation after a man has been convicted, to the judge. The judge calls him in and says to him, “Mr. Dobbins, or
, whatever his name is, go on out and find out what you can about this man; what is his record; what is he like?” ! The probation officer then goes out and finds out every single thing he can about that man, his background, his family, his friends, his associates, his past record.
Mr. RABAUT. That very work calls for a fine, high-class, conscientious man as a probation officer.
Judge Biggs. And a man who, in addition to that, has a good deal of tact, and upon whom a judge can absolutely rely.
He usually writes that report out and the report is kept confidential. He delivers it to the judge, and after the judge has examined it, he generally calls the probation officer in and they have a talk about what should be done with the defendant. I don't mean, necessarily, his sentence, but the judge discusses with the probation officer, as his representative, what he thinks should be done with the convicted person; if he has a bad criminal record, what caused him to go off the track in the first place. And that is done in almost every case. The only place where it was not done was in the district of Delaware, where the former judge did not approve of probation, precisely as in another court in Utah that was mentioned here. There is now a new
judge in that district who upon appointment, immediately appointed a probation officer. So that throughout our circuit, which is Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, probation officers are used in almost every single case. It is only the plainest sort of case where one is not used, or in some very small crime where perhaps a fine would be imposed.
Now, the sentence which the judge imposes—I am a circuit judge but I have sat in trial courts and I have sentenced persons on occasion-I think depends largely on what the probation officers tell him, so far as basic information relating to the defendant is concerned. The probation officer is a neutral, unprejudiced person, who has no relation either to the defendant or to the United States attorney's office. He renders an impartial report.
As one of the bases of the judge's sentence there is that probation report. That is a fact which is in the picture on which the judge necessarily rests some portion of his judgment as to what the man's sentence shall be whether he should be placed upon probation, or whether he should be compelled to serve a sentence and then placed on probation. And that is a very important thing, and the men who do this work, must of necessity be intelligent; they must have a very good standing in their community; they must be people to whom persons are willing to give confidential information. A defendant's wife, for example, has got to feel that she can talk freely to the probation officer, and that he won't repeat, where the defendant may hear it, what she has to say about him.
That is what he does so far, as pre-sentence investigation is concerned.
Now, let us assume that a man is put upon probation. The man then has to report to the probation officer, and the probation officer has to know exactly what that man is doing almost day by day. Of course, the success of probation depends on the individual. If the probation officer succeeds in getting the convicted person a job, for example, in the R. C. A. plant at Camden, he has to find out how the man is making out; he has to keep rather close track of him; he has to make sure he doesn't come in contact with any present or former criminal associates. It is a job that requires great tact, unusual intelligence, and a good deal of training and background. Many of these men in the service are specially trained for it; many of them are college men.
The requirements for the individual probation officer are extremely high. He must be a person of practical experience; he must be a person with a good background in the community; he must be a person that inspires trust and confidence, both in the court and in the defendant and in the defendant's family; and he must have certain contacts. You can't take a third-rate man and hope to have him procure a job for a person who has been convicted of some crime under the Federal statutes, unless he is able to persuade the president or the personnel officer of some business corporation that the man is really worth while and is worth saving.
It is anything but a routine job.
Of course, you must bear in mind, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, that these probation officers are selected by the judges, and certain standards have been self-imposed by the judges in respect to probation officers, and in most instances the persons who serve as probation officers are really trained persons of long experience. It is not a job that can be filled by rote, so to speak; it is not a job that can be performed by a clerk. A person who is a successful probation officer has special qualifications. He must have a certain knowledge of the world; he cannot be a person who is easily deceived. He must be a person who definitely knows his community; knows the individuals, and has their complete trust and confidence.
Mr. KERR. In other words, the value of the procedure is 9 times out of 10 determined by the type of man who does the work?
Judge Biggs. Exactly; that is exactly the point, Judge Kerr. The system works just as well as the probation officers work. The judge's function, in the first instance, is to decide whether a given individual shall be put on probation, and once he has done that, there is practically nothing a judge can do about the situation, except through his probation officer, unless the probationer breaks the terms of his probation, when he can bring him back into court and send him to the penitentiary.
Mr. RABAUT. There is one question I want to ask. Are there any safeguards put around the positions of these men whereby he will not be called upon to perform work that is not intended? In other words, , that there will not be an abuse of his position—not by him, perhaps—I don't like to say this, but it could happen—where some judge will say, “Now, listen, you take care of my chambers, or drive my car, or run my errands.
Judge Biggs. No; I don't think so.
Mr. RABAUT. I really don't like to say that, but I am trying to safeguard the position. We want to benefit the courts and benefit justice and help these people who get into trouble, help them to get straightened out and bring them back to righteous living:
Judge Biggs. I think I understand your position. Those men are of very high type, at least the ones with whom I have come in contact, and I know every one of them in my circuit personally, both the chief probation officers and the individuals who serve under the chiefs. They perform no function for the court whatsoever other than their probation function. Of course, they also perform a duty when persons are put on parole by the pardon board. They also come under the jurisdiction of the probation officer, and the probation officer in that respect reports back to Mr. Bennett.
Mr. RABAUT. I think you have made a good statement, Judge Biggs.
Judge Biggs. I just want to say one thing more. It is important, if the probation service is to be preserved, that some increases be given, because these fellows who have worked hard have really gotten to the point where they are just about hanging on by their eyelids.
That is all I have to say on this subject.
Mr. RABAUT. Thank you very much. You talked about this $95,620, that is for the reclassification; is that right?
Judge Biggs. Yes, sir.
Mr. RABAUT. What about this additional personnel? How many additional people are requested?
Mr. CHANDLER. Fifteen additional officers and twenty-four additional clerks. I would like to make a statement for the record in regard to this item.
Mr. RABAUT. All right. Do you need the additional personnel?
Mr. CHANDLER. We ought to have an addition to our personnel. There are districts—and I have the data here showing that in the northern district of Alabama there is a sad need for more officers. I have a rather pathetic letter from the district on that score. I have data of that kind from other districts.
Mr. RABAUT. Supply the data for the committee, not for the record. Mr. CHANDLER. Very well. That is the situation.
Mr. RABAUT. All right, I think we have it now. What is Bennett going to talk about here?
Mr. CHANDLER. We have Judge Groner and Judge Knox who are interested in this same item.
Mr. STEFAN. Before Judge Biggs leaves, may I ask a question? Mr. RABAUT. Pardon me.
Mr. STEFAN. This $95,620, Judge, for reclassification, does that take care of the new officers, or merely those already on the roll?
Judge Biggs. It takes care of only those on the rolls. Now, sir, if the new officers are to be added-15 additional probation officers and 24 clerks
Mr. STEFAN. I thought it was 15 new clerks.
Judge Biggs. Twenty-four new clerks, and fifteen additional probation officers. If they were added and were reclassified by way of the reclassification which appears in the next to the last line of page 59, that would cost $4,500 a year more for the additional probation Officers.
Mr. STEFAN. You mean these 39 employees cost-how much more? Judge Biggs. No, sir; the 15 additional probation officers, re
, classified, would
be 15 times $300, or $4,500. Mr. STEFAN. That would be in addition to the $95,000? Judge Biggs. In addition to the $95,620.
Mr. CHANDLER. Excuse me. I would like to say just this; that while that is true, that is, the cost is computed at the higher rate, yet the cost of these higher rates is included in the $77,880.
Mr. STEFAN. “Additional personnel”?
Mr. CHANDLER. It appears from the bottom of page 61 of the justifications that the cost of the new personnel is estimated at salaries of $2,600 for officers, and $1,620 for clerks, the higher grade. So that the sum set forth for additional personnel takes into account the increased salaries.
Mr. STEFAN. Yes, but, Mr. Chandler, that $2,600 for the additional probation officers would not be on the same level of the reclassification you have. Mr. CHANDLER. Not with the present.
Mr. STEFAN. In other words, the new ones come in on a lower classification.
Mr. CHANDLER. The $2,600, Mr. Stefan, under the reclassification, will become the minimum salary. The sum of $95,620 provides for placing salaries above the minimum for persons now in the service adjusted for their length of service.
Mr. STEFAN. The answer is the same, you are starting the new ones at a lower classification.
Judge Biggs. No, sir. I think Mr. Chandler is correct in his statement; the new personnel would start at $2,600. At the present time they start at $2,300; so that a new person would start at $300 additional, exactly on the same basis as the old ones if the old ones were reclassified.
Mr. CHANDLER. But the sum of $95,620 asked will permit giving officers now in office, a within-grade differential above the minimum salaries for the new grades proportionate to their length of service.
Mr. STEFAN. I asked a question a little bit ago about these 19,320 presentence cases in 1944. What was the result of those?
Judge Biggs. Well, I can't tell you, other than in individual instances.
Mr. STEFAN. Could you put that in the record?
Judge Biggs. Yes. What happened, so far as my circuit is concerned, in most of the instances with which I am familiar, the judge received the presentence investigation and subsequently sentenced the convicted defendant to some sentence, and in those cases there were a great many persons put on probation.
Mr. ŠTEFAN. What I am trying to arrive at are the results of the presentence procedure as it relates to the clogging of the courts. Mr. Chandler said that during the war over 6,000 of those parolees were in the armed service. Now, in this presentence work that you do, is the result pretty favorable toward eliminating a lot of the work of the court?
Judge Biggs. No, sir; it isn't, because the work has already been done.
Mr. CHANDLER. Presentence investigations conserve the time of a judge in imposing sentences in this way: The investigations and reports supply him with full data about all the factors affecting the defendants which it would take him a long time to procure if he had to make the inquiries and gather the information himself. In fact, the conditions of his work would make it impossible.
The great advantage of presentence investigations and reports is that they enable the judge to determine the sentence to be imposed upon the convicted person, whether probation or imprisonment, and if imprisonment the length of the term, much more judiciously and with much more adequate knowledge than he could otherwise do. In short, they improve the quality of his sentencing work. I have heard many å judge say that he would be utterly unwilling to determine the sentence of a convicted person without having the knowledge about him, the man himself, his family, his adjustment to school and work, his relations in the community which only a presentence investigation can give. It is manifest that the protection of society in the future against further wrongdoing by the defendant depends very largely upon the wisdom of the sentence which the court imposes. For that the fullest understanding of the defendant is requisite. The materials for this understanding it is the function of the presentence investigation to supply and therein lies the great value of the method.
Mr. STEFAN. One other question: How many parole officers do we have on this work, that is, the total?
Mr. CHANDLER. There are 214 positions.
Mr. STEFAN. Are they all on? What is the load, according to the appropriations? Will you furnish that?
Mr. CHANDLER. We will furnish that. The number of probation officers now on the rolls is 240. There are 27 vacancies at the present time. The total number of officers' positions appropriated for is 267.
Mr. STEFAN. What is the civil-service relationship to these probation officers?