The cover of NYC Probation Department's FY 1981-82 annual report featured this photo of the Probation Officers Association at Children's Court Jan. 29, 1918.

NYC Probation Beginnings Timeline

1961 In New York City, prior to 1960, separate probation divisions existed in the Domestic Relations Court, Magistrate's Court, The Court of Special Sessions and the five County Courts.

Probation Services were instituted in the State of New York in 1893 when the power of the courts to suspend sentence was provided by statute.

Prior to 1974 probation services in New York City were under the direct supervision of the Judicial Conference of the State of New York.

Four separate agencies then existed: the Office of Probation for the Courts of New York City serving the New York City Criminal and Family Courts; and three separate and independently administered probation departments of New York/Bronx Counties, Kings/Richmond Counties and Queens County, which exclusively served the Criminal parts of the State Supreme Courts.

The four departments were consolidated into the New York City Department of Probation and placed under the Office of the Mayor on February 1, 1974 by action of the New York State Legislature (Ch. 603, Law of 1973). The Commissioner/Director of the New York City Department of Probation is appointed and serves at the pleasure of The Mayor. The Department is, in part, subsidized by State revenues and is accordingly subject to the regulatory oversight of the New York State Division of Probation.

The New York City Department of Probation is mandated by State law to provide Intake, Investigation and Supervision services for the Family Court and Investigation and Supervision services for the Criminal and Supreme Courts. The New York City Department of Probation, in providing services, operates from twenty-seven locations throughout the City.

The NYC Probation Dept. chronology appeared in its FY 1981/82 annual report published under Thomas L. Jacobs, left, then Commissioner. The executive editor was Gerald Migliore, right, the Commissioner's executive assistant.

NYCHS presents, with permission, the chronology excerpts as a timeline on the agency's beginnings. For more information on the agency, visit the NYC Probation Dept. home page.


Creation of the Office of Probation as a result of the consolidation of the separate probation divisions of the Domestic Relations Court, Court of Special Sessions, and Magistrate's Court.


Legislative enactment of the Court Reorganization Act abolished the Domestic Relations Court, Court of Special Sessions, and Magistrate's Court and replaced them with the Family Court of the State of New York and the Criminal Court of the City of New York. The Office of Probation established Family and Criminal Court Probation Divisions in order to accommodate this reorganization of the Courts. The five County Courts within New York City were also abolished and their functions transferred to the Supreme Court of the First, Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts. The five probation divisions serving the County Courts were consolidated into three Departments to parallel the three Judicial Districts.


The Office of Probation assumed responsibility for juvenile detention facilities in New York City (Bronx Youth House/Spofford). Services were provided in this area, until the juvenile detention facilities were removed to the control of the Department of Social Services in 1971.


A Probation Methadone Program was developed and implemented to serve the Criminal Court. This program was the first medical treatment program in the United States for hard-core addicts placed on probation. The program was phased out in 1973, when the increased availability of community programs obviated the need for probation methadone treatment facilities.


The Alternatives to Detention program for juveniles, initiated in 1971 by a federal grant and absorbed by the Office of Probation, was institutionalized by the Office of Probation, and still continues as an integral part of the Department's services to juveniles.


The New York State Legislature provided for the creation of the New York City Department of Probation through the consolidation of the four separate probation departments serving the Supreme Court, Family Court and Criminal Court. Probation services were removed from the jurisdiction of the Judicial Conference of the State of New York, and the newly created agency became part of the executive branch of City government. Probation services in the City of New York were now consolidated into a single department with a Director to be appointed by the Mayor.


As a result of reduced staff allocations from New York City's fiscal crisis and a high attrition rate, severe staff shortages were experienced by the Department.


The Community Resource Information Center was developed under a federal grant awarded and monitored by the New York City Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. This program located, evaluated and systematically codified relevant community resources to facilitate their utilization by staff.


Through funding by the New York State Division of Probation, this Department converted from a manual record and case supervision registration system to a computerized probation registration system (PRS) for all adult cases.


An Intensive Supervision Program, fully funded by the New York State Division of Probation, was initiated. This program utilizes concepts of limited caseloads, intensive and innovative services, and community inter-relationships to better ensure an intensive surveillance and counseling supervision program for high?risk offenders.


A Warrant Enforcement program funded by the NYS Division of Probation was instituted to expedite the execution of probation violation warrants in cooperation with the NYC Police Department. A city-wide Community Based Juvenile Probation Intake Program was initiated which expedites the intake process by placing probation officers in a number of police precincts in areas reporting high incidences of juvenile misconduct cases.

Managerial personnel in the Department received a comprehensive training course preparatory to establishing a Management Performance Appraisal Program (MPA). The implementation of the MPA provided supervisory personnel with a more uniform and objective task-oriented evaluation instrument. Managerial staff participated in an extensive training program designed to increase managerial skills. The program was developed at the Department's request by the Economic Development Council.


The Department initiated a Differential Supervision Program (DSP) in the Bronx and Staten Island. DSP is a case management process that objectively sorts the caseload into three standardized classifications.


Overcrowded conditions in the City's correctional facilities threatened to put the City in violation of a Federal court order limiting the number of inmates per cell. The New York City Department of Probation, under a directive by Mayor Koch, undertook emergency measures to relieve the overcrowding in the City's own facilities. In March 1981, the Department initiated an overtime program for investigative staff and condensed the content of the Pre-Sentence Report. Within a month the Department effectively reduced by half the number of defendants held by the Department of Correction at Rikers Island. As a result of Mayor Koch's Criminal Justice Enhancement Program, the Department of Probation experienced a 7.4% increase in overall staff, thus reversing a six-year trend of loss of staff through attrition.
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