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Parole and Probation Searches: The Aftermath of Griffin V. Wisconsin

NCJ Number
Perspectives Volume: 12 Issue: 2 Dated: (Spring 1988) Pages: 16-17,19
B Levenson
Date Published
3 pages
In Griffin vs. Wisconsin, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the warrantless search of a probationer's home in this case did not violate the fourth amendment.
In pleading its case, Wisconsin recognized special concerns for the privacy of the home, but argued that the special needs of probation supervision justified a departure from warrant and probable cause requirements. In upholding the warrantless search, the Court found that the probation systems presents special needs beyond those of ordinary law enforcement, likening the system to a pervasively regulated area that directly affects public safety. It also emphasized the deterrent effect of warrantless searches on probationers, but suggested that such searches must be conducted pursuant to comprehensive administrative rules. Even if a State has little interest in conducting warrantless probation or parole searches, the decision in Griffin offers a valuable lesson regarding surveillance, drug testing, house arrest, and other intensive supervision programs. By codifying such supervision programs in detailed and comprehensive rules, States can ensure that such important programs stand a better chance of surviving constitutional challenges in court. 10 references.