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On the Disclosure of Case Records by the Probation/Parole Service - Must the Probation/Parole Officer Tolerate Access to His Case Records?

NCJ Number
Bewaehrungshilfe Volume: 29 Issue: 4 Dated: (1982) Pages: 320-331
O Kaestner
Date Published
West German probation/parole officers are mandated to keep detailed case files on each client, but the policy of accessing these records has not been clearly articulated.
Primarily, the records are intended for use by the justice authorities who deliver cases to parole or probation, as well as by the probation/parole service as a means of evaluating their officers' job performance. Others may have interest in the documents because of the wealth of private information they contain on the clients' circumstances and personalities. While covered by the country's overall confidentiality laws protecting disclosure of personal data, exceptions and policies granting access are unclear. Only one State specifically addresses this issue in the laws mandating probation/parole service records, while others leave probation and parole officers liable in information disclosure controversies. Thus, the probation/parole officers face a dilemma of either curtailing their official records and not fulfilling the obligation to record everything pertinent to a case, or running the risk of having their records accessed by parties jeopardizing the counselor/client confidentiality protection. This situation arises because the justice department has ultimate jurisdiction over records produced by the probation/parole service. To maintain the integrity and purpose of probation/parole case files, specific records access regulations should be issued. A total of 29 footnotes are provided.