Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Douglas Ferraro

Number of Pages



In recent years the criminal justice system has managed large numbers of persons with mental illness, many of whom are supervised in the community on probation. Given that probation agencies are stretched to the maximum and have little extra time to take on additional challenges, probation officers (PO) may use typifications or "perceptual shorthand" as a means for efficiently managing their caseloads. Despite the role typifications may play in the processing of probationers, to date no research has attempted to characterize PO typifications; The reason for the dearth of literature in this area appears to be the result of many factors, including the lack of a solid operational definition for typifications. Fortunately, the widely studied and empirically validated psychological construct of prototypes can be utilized to help lay the foundation lacking in the typifications literature. Using this foundation, this study's primary goal was to elicit, characterize and compare PO prototypes of both the typical or routine probationer (TRP) and the probationer with mental illness (PMI); Participants were 61 adult PO who completed a survey describing either their prototype of TRP or PMI. Qualitative analyses of the survey responses revealed that PO have multifaceted and unique prototypes of both TRP and PMI. The implications of these prototypes and directions for future research are discussed.


Illness; Mental; Officers; Perceptions; Probation; Probationers; Prototypes

Controlled Subject


File Format


File Size

3676.16 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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