Community Service in Texas: Results of a Probation Survey

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Community service is often used as an alternative to jail and involves offenders performing some form of community-oriented service without pay. The concept of community service is closely linked with restitution, although restitution is made to the entire community rather than to particular victims. In order to explore the nature of community service orders in more detail than is currently available in the literature, a survey was mailed to 122 adult community supervision and corrections departments in Texas between December 2000 and January 2001; 89 surveys were completed and returned. The survey probed the structure and administration of community service, the nature of community service sentencing, aspects of offender eligibility and offender characteristics, and the attitudes of local officials regarding the benefits and limits of community service. Results of the survey indicate that, in Texas, the administration of community service is handled by private organizations and rarely involves residential community service programs. Community service sentencing appears popular in Texas; 75 percent of adults under supervision in Texas had a community service order. Drug and theft offenders were most likely to receive community service orders and more violent offenders than traffic or public order offenders were sentenced to community service in Texas. Judges enjoyed considerable discretion in determining the length of community service orders. The typical community service order for misdemeanor offenders was 60 hours, while felony offenders typically completed 230 hours. Work sites tended to be nonprofit agencies and government agencies. During fiscal year 2000, almost three-fourths of offenders with community service orders completed their assigned work. Tables, references
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCorrections Compendium
StatePublished - Mar 2005


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