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Behavioral Objectives in Probation and Parole - A New Approach to Staff Accountability

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 46 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1982) Pages: 19-28
A W Cohn
Date Published
10 pages
Probation and parole agencies should use behavioral objectives for each client in order to deliver effective services, hold workers and clients accountable, and permit the assessment of agency performance.
Vague goals, such as rehabilitation, cannot be measured and give managers and workers no help in determining processes for the implementation of the agency's mission. However, by developing and implementing specific behavioral objectives, both workers and clients will know precisely what performance is expected of them. Correctional agencies will also be able to use measures of achievement to help reverse their common image of incompetence and failure. The process of developing behavioral objectives includes the determination of client needs, the assessment of available resources, and the establishment of objectives which are based on reality. The worker and client should then develop a set of behavioral objectives, which will become the expected outcomes of supervision. Each objective should specify a single behavioral outcome and the target date by which it is to occur. The objective should be measurable. Workers should use the objectives and plans as a tool for supervision based on periodic progress reports and summaries of case observations. Workers should change objectives as needed. Using behavioral objectives can have a dramatic impact on agency goal attainment by enabling agencies to monitor and measure their performance. Charts give example of a set of objectives and of common errors in writing objectives and methods for correcting them.