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Probation & Pretrial Info

History of Probation and Pretrial

Historically the concept of probation evolved out of the practice of judicial reprieve, used in English courts to serve as a temporary suspension of sentence to allow a defendant to appeal to the Crown for a pardon. The first recognized probation officer in the United States was John Augustus, a volunteer, who in 1841, approached the Court in Boston to allow "drunkards" to be placed under his direction while on bail with the offense to be dismissed upon favorable treatment by Augustus. In the United States, the suspended sentence was used as early as 1830, in Boston, Massachusetts and became widespread in U. S. Courts, although there was no statutory authorization for such practice. At first, judges used "release on recognizance" or bail and simply failed to take further action. By the mid-19th century, however, many federal courts were using a judicial reprieve to suspend sentence, and this posed a legal question. In 1916, the U. S. Supreme Court held that a federal judge (Killets) was without power to suspend a sentence indefinitely. This famous court decision led to the passing of the National Probation Act of 1925, thereby, allowing courts to suspend the imposition of a sentence and place an offender on probation which is known as the Killets Decision.

With the passage of the National Probation Act on March 5, 1925, signed by President Calvin Coolidge, the administration of federal probation was assigned to the Department of Justice under the Office of the Attorney General and placed under the direction of the Bureau of Prisons. The first probation officers, three in number, were appointed in 1927, at a beginning salary of $2,400, a year. Applicants had to be high school graduates and have at least 14 credits toward a college degree with three years experience in social work. The age requirement was 21 through 54 with retirement age set at 70. By 1930, only five more probation officers had been added.

On May 14, 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed into law the act creating the Federal Bureau of Prisons. At the time the act was passed, the federal prison system consisted of an institution for women, three penitentiaries, and a detention facility-all operating autonomously. In 1930, when a person was convicted of a federal crime he/she was committed to a maximum security prison. Youthful first offenders often were placed in cell blocks which they shared with hardened offenders. (Today, the Federal Correctional System numbers over 100 prisons with over 115,000 inmates.) Also, in 1930 the National Probation Act was amended removing the probation system from Civil Service and placing the power of appointment of probation officers in the hands of the judges of the district courts. By June 30, 1931, 62 salaried probation officers and 11 clerk-stenographers served 54 districts. Caseloads were excessive. In 1932, the average caseload for each of the 63 salaried probation officers was 400.

On September 27, 1982, the Pretrial Services Act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The Act (18 U.S.C. Section 3152) mandated that pretrial services functions shall be provided in each judicial district except the District of Columbia. In May 1988, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Fourth Circuit Judicial Council voted to establish a separate Pretrial Services Office pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 3152(b). 

History of the District of New Mexico Probation Office

The Judges

New Mexico was admitted as a state on January 6, 1912, and was designated as one judicial district. The United States District Court for the District of New Mexico was made a part of the Eighth Circuit.

William H. Pope the first Federal District Judge for New Mexico, was appointed by President Taft on January 11, 1912. He held this position for four years until his death on September 13, 1916.

His successor Colin Neblett, was appointed by President Wilson on February 5, 1917, and served thirty-one years.

On March 3, 1923, Congress created a second, temporary judgeship filled by Orie L. Phillips; he was appointed by President Harding and served six years in this capacity. In 1929, the Tenth Circuit was created and Phillips took a position on the circuit court.

The Honorable Carl Atwood Hatch was appointed by President Truman on January 21, 1949. On May 15,

1954, the Honorable Waldo H. Rogers was appointed to the court by President Eisenhower. On March 27,

1963, the Honorable H. Vearle Payne was appointed as a Federal Judge for the District Court of New Mexico.

The Chiefs:

In April 1931, Judge Neblett appointed J.R. Galusha of Albuquerque as the district's first probation officer. Mr. Galusha had served as the second police chief in Albuquerque. On September 8, 1953, Judge Hatch designated J.R. Galusha as the Chief Probation Officer, for the District of New Mexico. The first probation clerk in the District of New Mexico was Mr. Vincent Napoleon. Mr. Napoleon was selected as the next probation officer by Mr. Galusha. Mr. Galusha served a total of 25 years; 22 years as a probation officer and 3 years as Chief Probation Officer, retiring on October 31, 1956.

William J. Cooper succeeded J.R. Galusha by direct appointment as Chief Probation Officer in 1956. Mr. Cooper hired Arthur S. Riffenburgh as a probation officer on September 23, 1956;Richard L. Martinez on February 12, 1962; and Santa Cruz R. Perez on January 21, 1967. Mr. Cooper served a total of 13 years, from 1956 until October of 1969, when he retired his post as Chief Probation Officer for the District of New Mexico.

Richard L. Martinez was appointed by the Honorable H. Vearle Payne in October of 1969 as the next Chief Probation Officer for the District of New Mexico. Mr. Martinez served a total of 22 years; 7 years as a probation officer and 15 years as Chief Probation Officer, retiring in December of 1984.

Daniel Perez was appointed by the Honorable Howard C. Bratton in January of 1985 as the next Chief Probation Officer, for the District of New Mexico. Mr. Perez served a total of 20 years; 11 years as a probation officer and 9 years as Chief Probation Officer, retiring in November of 1994.

Gilbert J. Montoya was appointed by the Honorable Juan G. Burciaga in February of 1994 as the next Chief Probation Officer, for the District of New Mexico. Mr. Montoya retired in April of 2002 Chief Probation Officer for the District of New Mexico. He retired with a total with a total of 24 years of service.

Anita L. Chavez was appointed by the Honorable James A. Parker in May of 2002 as the next Chief Probation Officer, for the District of New Mexico. Ms. Chavez served a total of 29 years; 15 years as a probation officer and 12 years as Chief Probation Officer, retiring in May of 2014.

Margaret Vigil is the current Chief Probation Officer and was appointed by the Honorable M. Christina Armijo in May of 2014.

Items of Information:

In the 1930's through the 1950's, federal criminal offenses were mainly violations of the Prohibition Act (illegal whiskey), the Dyer Act (car theft), and also the White Slavery Act. Juveniles were prosecuted under the Juvenile Delinquency Act and those convicted were sentenced to the National Training School, in Washington, D.C. Until the 1950's, judges had no sentencing alternatives, therefore convicted offenders could only receive a prison sentence or probation.

It was not until 1964, that the Judicial Conference mandated that all federal probation officers hired be required to have a Bachelor's degree. Up until the 1970's, treatment of offenders by changing behavior was the primary goal of supervision, therefore many of the earlier probation officers had backgrounds in social work.

Pursuant to amendments to the National Probation Act, presentence reports were required for defendants convicted of a crime when the punishment could include imprisonment for more than one year, judges then began requesting presentence reports from the probation office. Probation clerks prepared presentence reports on manual typewriters with four copies produced on onion skin paper through carbon paper. Dictation was taken by shorthand.

In July of 1975, federal legislation became effective mandating the disclosure of presentence reports to the defendant, his or her attorney, and the U. S. Attorney. Prior to this disclosure law, only the sentencing judge could have access to the presentence report. Sentencing occurred within thirty days of a plea and a date for sentencing was docketed on the Court calendar at the time of the plea. Attorneys were advised by letter that the presentence report would be available for their reading approximately five days before sentencing. With disclosure, the presentence report became available for reading only in the presence of a probation officer and was usually reviewed in the office. Occasionally, probation officers would carry the presentence report with them to the "field" for offenders and their attorneys to read. Reproduction of presentence reports was not allowed. As time went on, there was full disclosure of presentence report's and sentencing guidelines were introduced in 1987, which impacted greatly on sentencing proceedings.