Probation and parole were once systems designed to punish. Now, in the post-realignment world, they are being viewed ever more frequently as a tool for reform and rehabilitation.

That’s what some counties are trying to do by retraining their probation officers to take on a more counseling, mentoring role when it comes to their supervised probationers. Instead of threatening them with hand cuffs and jail time, its become commonplace to hear words of encouragement and guidance offered to the offenders.

But it’s an approach that can rub some veterans the wrong way, and institutional change can run into heavy resistance. With team building exercises and other training tools, however, seminars are being hosted that hope to bring about a lasting, positive, and cost-effective change.

From the Mercury News:

Twelve Santa Clara County probation officers are standing in a circle, each twirling a rope with a noose at one end. They’re pretending to lasso a criminal under their supervision.

Then an instructor tells them to untie the noose and hand one end of the rope to their “client.”

“If you’re working together,” says the instructor to the skeptical officers, “the tension on the rope now is just right.”

Read the full article here.