History of Adult Probation

John Augustus

Probation began in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1841 when John Augustus convinced a court judge to release a "public drunkard" into his custody. He took the man into his home, found him a job and made him sign a pledge that he would stop drinking.

The First Probation Law

The judge was so impressed that the man remained sober and had a dignified appearance that when he returned to court for sentencing, the judge waived the usual penalty of 30 days in the House of Correction. Instead, he levied a fine of one cent plus court costs of $3.76. In 1878, Massachusetts enacted the world's first probation law.

Probation in Indiana

In 1907, probation was regulated by Indiana State Statute. In 1945, Porter County hired its first part-time probation officer and in 1950, a full-time probation officer was hired.