- Politics and Social Issues
How to Make Probation and Parole Effective
The Attitude is Everything
It seems to me, that the very words probation and parole, have an immediate negative impact. Granted, if the words are part of your world, you have probably done something you shouldn't have. OK. So life being what it is, and time travel still remaining an unfinished sci-fi project, you have things you need to deal with that you can't go back in time and change. Where do you begin?
First of all, the single most important aspect of your situation that you have control over is your attitude. Your attitude is going to make or break you. It's your choice. If you have a good attitude, chances are you will have a good future, if you don't then the opposite will most likely be true.
Own Your Actions
What makes a good attitude when you are on supervision with probation and parole? Well, there are a number of things that will make a difference.
You need to accept responsibility for the position you are in. At some point in the past, choices you made have gotten you where you are today. Yes, there are mitigating circumstances in everyone's life that contribute to their situations, but you are still the owner of your actions. Many of us have had bad childhoods, been victims of violence, been sexually abused, or experienced traumatic events that shaped who we are. It is what we do with these circumstances that makes the difference in our lives.
High Ground or Low Ground
You need to accept the consequences for your actions and the choices you have made. With all action, comes reaction. My grandmother used to tell me a story when I was little that has stayed with me all my life. It went like this.... " Susie and Mary were best friends, they always played together everyday. One day Susie did something mean to Mary and hurt her feelings." ( at this point Nan would put her two hands out in front of her side by side, one representing Mary, and one Susie ) She would drop her Susie hand way down showing that she had done something bad to Mary. Then she would say, " Mary wanted to get even" and she would drop her Mary hand down to the same level as her Susie hand. Now my Nan is 95 years old, and has been around quite some time, she's a smart old bird. That simple little story taught me a lot.
How we react is ours to own, and excuse or not we are responsible for the consequences. There is always another choice, and if getting even is all you want, you will be spending a lot of time on low ground. You can choose to accept the consequences you have and simply tackle them one at a time to get through them and move forward. If not, you can fight the situation, deny, deny, deny, and change nothing. It's up to you.
Your Perception Affects Your Outcome
You need to see probation and parole as a safety net. Probation and Parole are part of the legal system that allow people who have made mistakes, poor choices, or deliberate wrongful acts to have a chance to stay in the community while they pay their consequences for their actions. They should be looked at at a safety net, a protection if you like, to keep you out of prison, or to keep you from returning to prison. There are stipulations on everyone who is under supervision, and most are there for one of two reasons; 1) community safety, and 2) your success on supervision. If you don't understand this, then you need to get your head on right.
First of all, you broke a law, you did something by community standards that warrants a punishment. If you are on probation, then you have been fortunate enough to be given a chance to stay in the community despite your action because someone believes you have the potential to learn your lesson without being sent to prison BE GRATEFUL!!!! If you are on parole, then you have been to prison, and have now been given a chance to show that you are changed and that you have learned, DON'T WASTE THE OPPORTUNITY!!!
The rules, regulations and stipulations are set up as guidelines to help you. Not to punish you. They are there to give you a back up when temptation arises and you know you should say no or walk away. Use them wisely.
Hold on to Hope
You need to think positive, and have hope that things will get better. I can not stress how much of an effect a hopeful attitude has on success. If you believe you will do better, you will. I'm not going to kid you, it is hard to make it on a new path, but it is possible. You need a game plan, a legal one. One that will get you somewhere positive and out of the cycle you are currently in. Listen to your probation or parole officer, ask them questions, they have alot of answers. You are not their only client, they have worked with many people in your position and can be a wealth of knowledge. Help yourself, look around the community, find out who can help you and go to them. If you need education, pull out the yellow pages, get busy, find what you need. Look under social services, education, and employment. Take care of the things you have and get the tools you don't have. We all have strengths and weaknesses, make a list and start from there.
The Future is Unlimited
Accept the fact you can not change what you did, but you CAN change what you will do next. I worked with mentally ill parole and probation clients for five years. One of the things I used to get them to do was stand up in my office, close their eyes and stretch their hands out to the side. Then I would have them imagine a snow white field in front of them, right at the edge of their toes, and behind them there is a forest. Then I would tell them that the forest is the past, it is behind them. The snow is their future, it is white, pristine and unblemished. They have the choice of what path they make through the snow. They can make it as beautiful as they want, and as positive as they want. Again, it is up to them.