Another year ends! The holiday season is the time to look forward and apply past experience to future planning. Realistic planning can be done in 5-year time spans and requires some predictions made with uncertain information. So let’s predict.

Probation and parole is a government funded program and subject to the politics of the times. The conservatives look to be in control in a majority of the jurisdiction so for my first prediction, I expect to see very little increase in funding over the next five years.

Parole is on the way out: Funding of the parole board is an expense that cannot be justified. As parolees increase their presence in the news-worthy crime stories, the public perception is that parole is a failure. The federal government’s elimination of parole provides a roadmap for states to lay the groundwork to transfer parole to the courts. No increase funding will be due the probation departments because they already handle the parolees. This is a win/win for the politicians who can publicly announce the cost savings and invest the funds in some other pet program.

Caseloads need to go down: Faced with increasing caseloads and no increase in funding or manpower, agencies will look for ways to decrease the workload. A trend is spreading across the country: Marijuana use and possession is considered to not be criminal behavior. The Affordable Care Act mandates medical coverage for everyone. Practitioners will declare drug use a medical issue covered under ACA and not an appropriate use of criminal justice funds. Probation agencies will stop enforcing probation rules against the use and possession of controlled drugs. Active supervision of clients convicted of possession and/or use of controlled drugs will cease. Any clients placed on supervision by courts will be assigned administrative status and referred to treatment centers.