Chapter 3: Educational or Vocational Services (Probation and Supervised Release Conditions)
A. Statutory Authority
Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(4), the court may provide that the defendant “pursue conscientiously a course of study or vocational training that will equip him for suitable employment.”
B. Sample Condition Language
You must participate in an educational services program and follow the rules and regulations of that program. Such programs may include high school equivalency preparation, English as a Second Language classes, and other classes designed to improve your proficiency in skills such as reading, writing, mathematics, or computer use. [[You must pay the costs of the program.] [You must pay [$___ per ___ (e.g., visit, week, month)] or [___ % of the costs of the program.]]
You must participate in a vocational services program and follow the rules and regulations of that program. Such a program may include job readiness training and skills development training. [[You must pay the costs of the program.] [You must pay [$___ per ___ (e.g., visit, week, month)] or [___ % of the costs of the program.]]
- This condition serves the statutory sentencing purposes of public protection and rehabilitation. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(C) and (D).
- This condition enables the probation officer to satisfy the statutory requirements to keep informed of the conduct and condition of the defendant and aid the defendant and bring about improvements in his or her conduct and condition. 18 U.S.C. §§ 3603(2)-(3).
- The purpose of this condition is to develop or enhance the skills needed to obtain and maintain gainful employment in order to protect the public and promote the reintegration of the defendant into the community.
This condition allows the officer to implement supervision methods demonstrated by social science to be effective at achieving positive outcomes.
- Research suggests that correctional interventions that follow the principles of evidence-based practices promote positive change in the defendant and reduce the probability of recidivism. One of the evidence-based practices principles is that officers should address criminogenic needs, including deficits in educational, vocational, and employment skills. Education may increase one’s employability and ability to obtain and maintain a job and economic stability. Criminal behavior increases with frequent unemployment and longer periods of unemployment. There is also evidence for the importance of obtaining meaningful, long-term employment in desisting from crime. Vocational training programs include classroom-based education, job training, and apprenticeships and may also offer life skills components to improve time management skills and work ethic (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(1)).
- Research suggests that exposure to antisocial associates increases the probability of recidivism. Educational and vocational training in a suitable environment may reduce access to antisocial peers and increase associations with prosocial peers (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(2)).
- Research suggests that the probability of recidivism is reduced when defendants develop and maintain prosocial bonds to work, which may be facilitated through educational and vocational programs (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(3)).
- Research suggests that for a criminal event to occur there must be an opportunity to commit a crime. Probation officers may work with defendants on supervision, family members, neighbors, other community members, and law enforcement agencies to structure and monitor the defendant’s routine activities and reduce the extent to which defendants come into contact with criminal opportunities. Probation officers may also monitor defendants through contacts with the defendant and his or her social network, verifying employment, restricting travel, and providing positive reinforcement for prosocial routine activities. Participation in educational or vocational training programs may reduce criminal opportunities by providing prosocial activities and by increasing monitoring by prosocial individuals (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(4)).
D. Method of Implementation
- Probation officers may recommend educational or vocational services conditions when there is a need to develop or enhance the skills needed to obtain and maintain gainful employment. These skills include reading, writing, mathematics, computer use, or language proficiency.
- The probation officer may refer the defendant directly to an agency providing educational or vocational services, or the probation officer may collaborate with the state education or employment agency to facilitate such a placement.
- The probation officer verifies participation in the educational or vocational programs by interviewing the defendant, contacting the agency providing the services, and requesting educational transcripts or other official records.