New York City is attempting to create a more effective probation process and to move probationers through the system more expediently.
By using “Neighborhood Opportunity Network” offices, or NeONs, New York City’s probation department is moving the probation office system from one centralized location to several outposts throughout the city.
The offices were selected by identifying the relative population densities of probationers throughout the city. The seven locations with the highest densities were slated to pilot the decentralized probation program. Now, rather than making the trek downtown to check in with probation officers, probationers will meet with their officers in their own communities.
Beyond mere check-ins, New York City officials hope a community-based probation system will increase the number of resources used and community service performed that is connected to each probationer’s specific community. For example, raking and cleaning a community garden right around the corner from one’s own home could have a significantly greater impact than the exact same project on the other side of the city.
But probation officials admit, even while community-centered probation is the current focus, the ultimate goal is to get these probationers off the rolls and never see them again.