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Augustus, John(1785–1859) pioneer probation officer, philanthropist; born in Boston, Mass. Little is known of his background or early years but by 1841 he was a shoemaker, albeit one who employed several assistants. Attending the Boston Police Court that year, he witnessed a case involving a common drunkard; at Augustus's request, the man's sentence was deferred for three weeks and he was released to Augustus's supervision; at the end of the probationary period the man was able to convince the judge of his reformation and received a nominal fine. After this incident Augustus appeared almost daily in various Boston courts, acting as counsel for prisoners, furnishing bail, and sometimes finding homes for juvenile defenders; his unorthodox approach often brought him into conflict with court officials. He continued to work at his shoemaking business until 1846 when he seems to have acquired enough money to support himself. Between 1842–58, using his own money and some modest contributions from others, he posted bail for 1,946 people. He is regarded as "the father of probation" in the U.S.A.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.