Probation Assistance

Probation assistance contributes to the overall objective of reintegrating released convicted persons into society and reducing the risk of repeat offending. The offenders deal with their previous conduct and assume responsibility for it.

What are the criteria for ordering probation assistance? 

The Probation and Executive Services are in charge of probation assistance and provide the necessary social and technical support for it.

The criteria for ordering probation assistance include the following:

  • Risk of repeat offending: During periodic meetings, offenders are supported and empowered to detect risk situations at an early stage and to manage them in an offence-free manner.
  • Need for assistance: An offender is considered to be in need of assistance if he/she lacks sound social relationships or if he/she is faced with financial difficulties, substance addiction, major health problems, mental disorders and/or psychological overload in view of everyday life.
  • Responsiveness/Compliance: In addition to meeting the criteria above, the offender must also be generally responsive to probation assistance. This means that the offender must show a minimum level of willingness to cooperate and must be able to accept assistance in an out-of-custody setting.

Objectives

Advantages:

  • Analysis: Offenders analyse their criminal offence and its circumstances as well as their attitude and conduct, and they develop alternative behaviouralstrategies.
  • Reintegration: Offenders are supported regarding their reintegration into society. The are provided counselling and assistance in case of personal problems, and they are encouraged to participate in social and cultural life.

The following elements (Learning Programmes, conduct orders, debt rehabilitation, social report) are also part of probation assistance:

Learning Programmes

Learning Programmes are trainings based on cognitive principles and behavioural therapy. They include knowledge enhancement, dialogue, self-reflection as well as practical exercises. It is important to understand that these Learning Programmes are not to be confused with psychotherapy. During the training sessions, skills such as self-control or anger and stress management are practised.

Objective of the Learning Programmes 

Learning Programmes are short-term and pragmatic measures that can effectively contribute to the prevention of repeat offending. Offenders are taught to understand their behaviour and to develop strategies that prevent them from becoming repeat offenders.

Target group

Adult persons may participate in a Zurich Learning Programme if

  • under criminal investigation in the Canton of Zurich or if serving a sentence at a Swiss penal institution,
  • able to communicate in German,
  • confessed at least in part to the offences they are accused of (only refers to offence-oriented Programmes),
  • psychotherapeutic treatment does not have priority.

Learning Programmes have been offered by the Probation and Executive Services since the year 2000. Every year, about 300 persons participate in training courses either in groups or in individual settings.

Assignment

The Public Prosecutors and the Courts of the Canton of Zurich as well as the law enforcement authorities of Switzerland are the only official bodies that may assign persons to a specific Learning Programme.

There are two categories of Learning Programmes:

  • The assignment may solely be ordered by the law enforcement authorities. It is not possible for a Court or any other authority to assign persons to these Programmes.
  • The assignment may be ordered by a Public Prosecutor, a Court as well as by law enforcement authorities.

Learning Programmes ordered by law enforcement authorities

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«SPEAK» is one of the available Learning Programmes. It consists of six training sessions taking place on the premises of the Probation and Executive Services in Zurich-Altstetten.

Target group

«SPEAK» (former Trias II) is aimed at detained persons or persons on probation assistance for whom (work) integration is a challenge and who wish to improve their communication skills and their self-confidence during important meetings (e.g. job interviews). Role plays are recorded on video and are subsequently analysed. The participants’ personal appearance can thus be examined and adapted. This may help the respective offenders to present themselves in a more engaging way.

Costs

The training is free of charge for persons who are assigned to the Programme by Corrections and Rehabilitation (JuWe). Separate provisions apply to interested law enforcement authorities of other Cantons.

«IMPULS» is one of the available Learning Programmes. It is conducted in a one-on-one setting and usually consists of 10 to 15 training units taking place either on the premises of the Probation and Executive Services in Zurich-Altstetten or at a penal institution.

Target group

«IMPULS» is aimed at men and women who are either on parole or imprisoned in a penal institution and who show insufficient motivation to cope with their own offence-related issues.

Costs

The training is free of charge for persons who are assigned to the Programme by the JuWe. Separate provisions apply to interested law enforcement authorities of other Cantons. No costs incur to the participants.

«Do It plus» is one of the available Learning Programmes and is coached by psychologists of the Section of Forensic and Psychological Evaluations (AFA). The Learning Programme is conducted in one-on-one sessions and usually consists
of about 20 training units.

Target group

«Do It plus» is aimed at men and women who committed a violent or a sexual offence and who need to learn more about how to prevent repeat offending.

Costs

The training is free of charge for persons who are assigned to the Programme by the JuWe. Separate provisions apply to interested law enforcement authorities of other Cantons.

Learning Programmes ordered by Public Prosecutors, Courts, and law enforcement authorities

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«Do It» is one of the available Learning Programmes. The Programme is conducted in one-on-one sessions and usually consists of 15 to 20 training units. The trainings take place on the premises of the Probation and Executive Services in Zurich-Altstetten or at a penal institution.

Target group

«Do It» is aimed at men and women who committed a violent offence or an offence against property and who need to learn more about how to prevent repeat offending. This Intervention Programme is not suitable for persons exhibiting mental disorders who require therapeutic measures. Neither does the Programme deal with sexual offenders.

Costs

If participation in the Programme is ordered by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich or the JuWe, the training is free of charge. Separate provisions apply to interested law enforcement authorities of other Cantons.

Persons who were convicted by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich and who were ordered to participate in «Do It» are charged a contribution fee of CHF 500, which has to be paid after completion of the training. These charges may be reduced or even remitted for important reasons. Persons who are assigned to the Programme by a law enforcement authority will be told by their respective contact person if and to what extent they have to contribute financially.

«PoG» is one of the available Learning Programmes. It consists of 16 evening group sessions of 2.5 hours each and three follow-up meetings. Alternatively, it may be conducted in one-on-one sessions of approximately the same duration. The sessions take place on the premises of the Probation and Executive Services in Zurich-Altstetten or at a penal institution.

Target group

«PoG» is aimed at men and women who exercised or threatened to exercise violence in an existing or past relationship and who need to learn more about how to prevent repeat offending.

Costs

If participation in the Programme was ordered by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich or the JuWe, the training is free of charge. Separate provisions apply to interested law enforcement authorities of other Cantons.

Persons who were convicted by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich and who were ordered to participate in «PoG» are charged a contribution fee of CHF 500, which has to be paid after completion of the training. These charges may be reduced or even remitted for important reasons. Persons who are assigned to the Programme by a law enforcement authority will be told by their respective contact person if and to what extent they have to contribute financially.

«TaV» is one of the available Learning Programmes. It consists of 12 evening group sessions of two hours each and three follow-up meetings. Alternatively, it may be conducted in one-on-one sessions of approximately the same duration. The trainings take place on the premises of the Probation and Executive Services in Zurich-Altstetten or at a penal institution.

Target group

«TaV» is aimed at men and women who drove a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and who need to learn more about preventing repeat offences.

Costs

If participation in the Programme was ordered by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich or the JuWe, the training is free of charge. Separate provisions apply to interested law enforcement authorities of other Cantons.

Persons who were convicted by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich and who were ordered to participate in «TaV» are charged a contribution fee of CHF 500, which has to be paid after completion of the training. These charges may be reduced or even remitted for important reasons. Persons who are assigned to the Programme by a law enforcement authority will be told by their respective contact person if and to what extent they have to contribute financially.

«TdV» is one of the available Learning Programmes. It consists of 12 evening group sessions of two hours each and three follow-up meetings. Alternatively, it may be conducted in one-on-one sessions of approximately the same duration. The trainings take place on the premises of the Probation and Executive Services in Zurich-Altstetten or at a penal institution.

Target group

«TdV» is aimed at men and women who drove a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs and who need to learn more about preventing repeat offences.

Costs

If participation in the Programme was ordered by a Public Prosecutor or a Court ofthe Canton of Zurich or the JuWe, the training is free of charge. Separate provisions apply to interested law enforcement authorities of other Cantons.

Persons who were convicted by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich and who were ordered to participate in «TdV» are charged a contribution fee of CHF 500, which has to be paid after completion of the training. These charges may be reduced or even remitted for important reasons. Persons who are assigned to the Programme by a law enforcement authority will be told by their respective contact person if and to what extent they have to contribute financially.

«START» is one of the available Learning Programmes. It consists of 12 evening group sessions of two hours each and three follow-up meetings. Alternatively, it may be conducted in one-on-one sessions of approximately the same duration. The trainings
take place on the premises of the Probation and Executive Services in Zurich-Altstetten or at a penal institution.

Target group

«START» is aimed at men and women who attracted negative attention due to their reckless or aggressive driving and who need to learn more about preventing repeat offences.

Costs

If participation in the Programme was ordered by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich or the JuWe, the training is free of charge. Separate provisions apply to interested law enforcement authorities of other Cantons.

Persons who were convicted by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich and who were ordered to participate in «START» are charged a contribution fee of CHF 500, which has to be paid after completion of the training. These charges may be reduced or even remitted for important reasons. Persons who are assigned to the Programme by a law enforcement authority will be told by their respective contact person if and to what extent they have to contribute financially.

«TisKo» is one of the available Learning Programmes. It consists of 12 to 15 training sessions and three follow-up meetings. The trainings take place on the premises of the Probation and Executive Services in Zurich-Altstetten or at a penal institution.

Target group

«TisKo» is aimed at persons whose priority is to learn how to master everyday challenges (e.g. work, finances, family) rather than coming to terms with their offence. This training helps offenders to acquire and practise soft skills (in particular in situations of conflict or problematic settings). The offenders may thus improve their ability to cope with everyday challenges, which supports the progress of probation in general.

Costs

If participation in the Programme was ordered by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich or the JuWe, the training is free of charge. Separate provisions apply to interested law enforcement authorities of other Cantons.

Persons who were convicted by a Public Prosecutor or a Court of the Canton of Zurich and who were ordered to participate in «TisKo» are charged a contribution fee of CHF 500, which has to be paid after completion of the training. These charges may be reduced or even remitted for important reasons. Persons who are assigned to the Programme by a law enforcement authority will be told by their respective contact person if and to what extent they have to contribute financially.

Conduct orders

The Swiss Criminal Code stipulates conduct orders related to the practice of a profession, the place of residence, driving motor vehicles, medical and psychological therapy as well as reparation.

This list is not exhaustive as a number of additional conduct orders have been established in practice.

General provisions and execution

Conduct orders may be combined with probation assistance. The Probation and Executive Services monitor whether the respective conduct orders are complied with.

If an offender fails to comply with the conditions of probation assistance or disregards the conduct orders, the respective authority will submit a report to the court or the executive authorities.

Debt rehabilitation

Offenders are often indebted. Almost half of their debts can be ascribed to their offence(s) and the related costs (court fees, claims for damages, compensation payments for pain and suffering, legal recourse). The remaining debts can mainly be attributed to tax payments, loans, alimonies, goods or services.

Evaluation meeting

During the first meeting, the consultants try to get an overview of the overall debt situation. They explain how the offender may deal with his/her debts and what the requirements for a possible debt rehabilitation plan are. It is a priority to stabilize the person concerned and his/her environment. The consultants evaluate whether the requirements for debt rehabilitation are fulfilled.

If it becomes apparent during the course of the meetings that the requirements for debt rehabilitation are met, an individual solution will be developed.

Application

The indebted person must apply for debt rescheduling by phone. Alternatively, a staff member of the Probation and Executive services, a collaboration partner or any other institution must complete and submit the application form.

The following requirements must be met if an indebted person wishes to apply for debt rehabilitation.

Application requirements

  • The indebted person must be domiciled in the Canton of Zurich and was convicted by an authority of the Canton of Zurich or any other Canton, and the Probation and Executive Services of the Canton of Zurich are responsible for the supervision of the person or for the execution of his/her penal sentence.
  • The judgment is final and the person is currently being supervised by the Probation and Executive Services of the Canton of Zurich or was supervised by the latter over the past three years, or the person is serving a sentence or was serving a sentence over the past three years, or the probationary period is still running.
  • The sentence must have been pronounced for more serious offences than contraventions, and the person must earn an income or receive a replacement income (no social assistance).

The following applies to persons in a stationary facility:

  • The transition to day release employment or to a combined setting of external accommodation and day release employment is either completed or imminent.

Objectives of debt rehabilitation

Advantages:

  • Settlement of debts
  • Learning how to handle money
  • Avoiding new indebtednessReintegration
  • Reintegration
  • Living an offence-free life and reducing the risk of repeat offending

The average indebtedness of the clients of the Probation and Executive Services amounts to CHF 75,000. Debt rehabilitation arrangements usually last several years.

Social report

The reports prepared by the Probation and Executive Services provide an additional basis to Public Prosecutors or Courts for deciding whether probation assistance and/or conduct orders should be imposed. The person concerned may comment on the
report. Differing opinions must be recorded in the report.

The social report may address various topics depending on the situation or issue:

  • attitude towards the original offence and the way the offender deals with it
  • progressive criminal behaviour in case of repeat offenders
  • mental health/personality
  • soft skills
  • conflict behaviour
  • social environment
  • recognisable addictive tendencies
  • willingness to be treated

Further information

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Contact

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