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Probation Officers

The field in Criminal Justice that I have chosen will take me a few steps to get there but I do have a plan. The beginning of my plan starts out here at IBC and ends at the juvenile probation department. In the state of Indiana you have to have a bachelors degree to become one so I will have a few steps on the way. I’m sure I will have to get some help with these steps but I am willing to ask the questions and the take the time that it will take to get me to the end of my plan.

One of the things that I think I can bring to this profession is a strong willingness to help. I’m sure I’m not the first to think this but I think I can make a difference. Kids are our future and so many people forget that. The children that are our gangsters and our murders today are the people that are our future. Just think about that for a moment. Is that the kind of would that you want your children and grand-children growing up in? Think back to the day when you were a kid. Remember when no one ever locked their front door? Or a woman could walk down the street and not have to worry about getting raped or mugged. Times have really changed. Now everyone puts dead bolts on all their doors and a woman never goes anywhere alone. Again I ask is this the kind of world you want your daughter or grand-daughter living in? These days the criminals are getting younger and younger. Hopefully we can do something about this before it is to late. We have to get out children and future children going down a different path and making better choices.

I have chosen juvenile probation because I think if you get to a child soon enough you can make a change in them. They can start going down the right path and make good choices.

Qualifications for Probation Officers
1. A probation officer shall be at least twenty-one (21) years of age.

2. A probation officer shall be an American citizen

3. A person who submits an application to take the examination for prospective probation officers shall have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university or be in the last semester of a baccalaureate degree program. A person may not serve as a probation officer until he or she has received
a baccalaureate degree.

4. A person who submits an application to take the examination for prospective probation officers shall be a person of good moral character.

5. A person shall take and pass an examination for prospective probation officers prior to employment or within six months from the date that the person is first employed as a probation officer.

a.) A person who fails the examination shall be permitted to take the examination a second time. The second examination shall not be given until ninety (90) days after the first examination, during which time the person shall not be permitted to serve as a probation officer.

b.) A person who fails the examination a second time shall not be permitted to take the examination or serve as a probation officer until one year after the second examination.

6. A probation officer shall be required to attend an orientation program conducted by the Indiana Judicial Center within one year from the date that the officer is employed.

7. The qualifications established by the Judicial Conference of Indiana shall be minimum qualifications only, and a trial court judge may require higher qualifications for probation officers.

8. The qualifications established by the Judicial Conference of Indiana shall be effective on July 1, 1984. The qualifications shall not apply to persons who have been certified as eligible to serve as probation officers in Indiana courts prior to July 1, 1984.

Personal Attributes
I think the personal attributes that I could bring to this kind of job are many. I have a lot of good qualities about my self if I can brag for a moment. I am a strong willed person and I would like to think I can read people pretty well also. Through the years I have had to deal with legal problems in my life. I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing. And one of my children is following in my footsteps which has caused me to learn more about the probationary part of the law then I care to know right now. But when I think about it the way my life has gone and all the twists and turns I have had had brought me to this part in my life that has caused me to make this choice in occupations. I can sometime be a hard person or I can be an understanding person it just depends on what the situation calls for at the time.

I am also very good at multi tasking. In the line of work that I am in now I have had to learn how to do several things at one time. With the way the caseloads are now and they will be worse by the time I get there I think that a person that is able to multi task well is going to do better at the job than a person that is not able to multi task well.

Being a parent to begin with is a good attribute. Especially with having my three children of my own I have learned a lot about what to expect from a delinquent child. I have learned what signs to look for and I am not the kind of person that is easily fooled. I am determined person and I don’t like to be defeated so I work hard at getting my job done and doing a well at it.

I covered a lot of the challenges in the description of my paper but I will try to elaborate it some more here for you. The biggest challenge I have found with the career I am interested in is over worked and under staffed. The work load is getting heavier and the clients are getting younger each year. The probation officer doesn’t have time to do their job the way that they should. They should be able to have closer supervision with each of their clients. If the probation officer could keep a better watch on the clients then he/she could make sure that they were doing what they were ordered to do by the courts.

Another important challenge that probation officers have to deal with that many people do not think about when dealing with juveniles is their own on-the-job safety. There is a growing perception that the work of juvenile probation is increasingly dangerous. Almost one-third of the survey respondents reported that they had been assaulted on the job at some point in their careers. When asked whether, during the course of their duties, they were ever concerned about personal safety, 42 percent of the respondents reported that they were usually or always concerned.

Balancing juvenile probation officers’ safety and the safety of the public with probationers’ needs as a major challenge. Many departments have developed creative and successful intensive supervision and school-based programs that target special populations of probationers; however. There is increased pressure to do much more community-based programming. The safety of each probation office becomes more of an issue yearly because the kids get younger and the crimes seem to get more serious with each passing day. If I were a probation officer now I think I would fear for my life at times.

My interview was with the Chief Probation Officer of Allen County Juvenile Center. She was very informative and happy to comply with my interview. I had many questions for her and among those questions was “What are the state requirements to be a probation officer?” The answer to this question will be answered in the requirements part of my paper.

I asked Jamie, “What are some of your basic duties as a probation officer?” There are two different types of probation officer. The first type is an Intake Officer. An Intake Officer is responsible for conduction and completing Preliminary Inquiries, completing Predispositional Reports, coordinating cases for court hearings, and monitoring defendants pending hearings. The second is a Field Officers, they essentially works with probationers to assure satisfactory completion of fall probation requirements as ordered by the court. They do more crisis intervention and are required to file violations and prepare court documents if the probationer violates.
Next she was asked, “Is there anything you would like to see done differently and what are some of your biggest challenges?” Ms. Mann said that these two questions kind of run hand in hand. Probation officers are typically over worked and under paid. Also, they are constantly under-staffed. High caseloads make it challenging for officers to monitor each of their cases as intensely as they should. Another huge challenge is funding. Funding for raises, funding for more officers and funding for programming.

The families bring even bigger challenges. The “working poor” families where parents work and yet make too much money for public assistance yet cant afford treatment and insurance companies don’t do much for outpatient treatment. Also the clients seem to be getting younger and younger each day. We are frequently seeing 9 and 10 year olds- mainly for out of control behavior at school. There has to be and alternate plan for these kids- rather than calling the police.

On the flip side of that, now some of her rewarding aspects of her job come from her staff being happy. When she was a field officer she felt good when she seemed to “get through” to a juvenile. Somewhere along the lines her “words of wisdom” had a positive effect on someone.

My final question was “ If you had to do it all over again would you choose the same career?” Her answer was “Well, hind site is 20/20. In all honesty, no I probably wouldn’t. I went into probation when I was 24. I had worked at the detention center (Wood) for about 1 year before getting a probation spot. I went into this not really putting much thought into whether I would have a family and/or the long-run salary potential. Nearly 15 years later I have 3 children. As I mentioned, hind site is 20/20, and personally my family and I would have been better suited for the education field. Now, in another 15 years when they are grown it might not be such an issue. We do have many officers in our department that have been here 15 years plus and some for more than 25 years. It is not a means to make lots of money, and only a select few ever make it into a management position. It is, however, a solid job with decent pay and benefits. Unfortunately and fortunately (depending on how you look at it), there will always be crime and a need for probation. Mann, J. . [Interview with Tammy Morgan]. .

After doing all my research and talking to someone in the profession I found out a lot of useful information. I am still very interested in becoming a juvenile probation but there are so many different professions out there that I can do with my degree and I want to weigh out all my options. The starting out pay isn’t to bad to start but according to my interviewee you can’t do this for the money. In a profession like this you have to be in it for the love of the job and the love for the difference you can make in a persons life. I can kind of relate to this with the profession I am in right now. I am still very interested in helping young people and the age is getting younger and younger all the time. We need to figure out a different way to deal with these kids or soon or we are going to be defeating the purpose of the whole probation profession and what it is meant for. This occupation is still at the top of my list but I want to keep all my doors open until I get all the information on all the jobs available.

Reference Page

Mann, J. . [Interview with Tammy Morgan]. .

Hurst, H., IV. And Torbet, P. (1995). Special Analysis of the Juvenile Probation Officer Initiative Database

Clegg, R. K. (1995). Probation and Parole; principles and practices.

Carney, L. P. (1994). Probation and Parole; legal and social dimensions.

Rodriguez, N. (2007). Restorative Justice at Work: Examining the Impact of Restorative Justice Resolutions on Juvenile Recidivism. Crime & Delinquency, Vol. 53, 7-9.