Patrick P. Brown, Probation Revocation: A Survey of Constitutional Rights Since Mempa v. Rhay, 8 Gonz. L. Rev. 110 (1972).
During the first half of the nineteenth century, certain individuals came to the conclusion that some percentage of convicted criminals would be better off, and society would be improved, if those criminals could be released from confinement. The normal procedure for such individuals to follow was to post a surety bond guaranteeing that the prisoner, if released, would lead an upright life. This was the beginning of what we know today as probation. Records indicate that prior to 1850 this practice was begun in Massachusetts with a considerable degree of success in rehabilitation of the released prisoners. Even earlier, by common law, criminal courts could suspend the execution of a sentence for a short period for good cause shown. This power was exercised, for example, if the court questioned the accuracy of the verdict, or to allow time to apply for a pardon, or in the case of a pregnant woman convicted of a capital offense. Under this common law power, however, barring intervening permanent release, the defendant had to eventually serve the sentence which was imposed. . . Read More.