John Augustus | Definition

John Augustus

John Augustus, also known as the “Father of Probation,” was a prison reformer in the 19th century who is credited with establishing the concept of probation in the criminal justice system.


Augustus was born in Württemberg, Germany in 1785 and immigrated to the United States as a young man. He is best known for his work as a layman probation officer in Boston, Massachusetts, where he advocated for alternatives to imprisonment for first-time offenders.

Augustus believed that individuals who had committed minor crimes and were willing to take responsibility for their actions should be given the opportunity to reform rather than being incarcerated. He worked with judges and magistrates to allow first-time offenders to be released into his custody, and he provided them with support and guidance as they worked to rehabilitate themselves and become productive members of society. Augustus’ efforts were instrumental in the development of the modern probation system, which is designed to provide offenders with the opportunity to reform and avoid incarceration.


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