The First Community Service Probation Program In The U.S. Was Focused On?
Answer: Female Traffic Offenders
Community service as a legal sanction in lieu of jail time or fines has been used for so long in the United States that most people don’t even recall a time before community service was a viable punitive measure for minor offenses.
In fact, the first community service program didn’t appear on the U.S. judicial map until 1966 when the courts in Alameda County, California instituted a formal program to assist low-income female traffic offenders. Rather than slap the traffic offenders with large fines that disproportionately affected them compared to wealthier offenders, they were offered the opportunity to do community service instead.
The program proved so successful that other communities quickly copied it and by the 1970s there were hundreds of community service programs deployed across the United States as an alternative to fines, probation, or jail time for juvenile delinquents and non-violent adult offenders.
Image courtesy of Kenny Loule.