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Probation Officers and the Community

Probation or Supervision Officers work within law enforcement agencies and court systems as a liaison between a convicted criminal and the courts. It is common for a first-time offender of a non-violent crime to be sentenced to probation instead of serving time within the prison system, because of the benefit to the overcrowded prisons as well as the criminal. Probation can be seen as a chance to rehabilitate before any further crimes are committed, and an effective probation officer may mean the difference between a repeat criminal and an expunged criminal record.



A probation officer can perform many different functions, depending on the criminal’s jurisdiction, crime and rehabilitative needs. Some probation officers work with juveniles or within a family court division, while others specialize in the monitoring and rehabilitation of adults. Many probation officers are called to testify in court, and must be able to communicate effectively as well as keep detailed and organized records. A probation officer’s duties may also include monitoring a criminal’s work history, social activities, court-ordered therapy or drug rehabilitation programs. They are able to keep in direct contact with family members and employers, assuring the courts that the criminal has adhered to the stipulations of probation that were ordered. Drug test results, class attendance, actions and behaviors of the criminal are all reported to the court by the probation officer.

Probation Officers must be at least 21 years old, not possess a criminal record, and be able to pass drug tests, written tests, physical and psychological exams and interviews. A four-year college degree is also required, especially a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice/Corrections, as well as experience in the field, especially if an applicant is considering working within the Federal Government.

Applicants for probation officer must be at least 21 years of age, no criminal record, and have excellent interviewing and writing skills. They should also pass the written tests, oral interviews, and physical and psychological examinations. The national average yearly salary for a probation officer with a four-year college degree is almost $32,000 - $48,000, depending on location. For those with a graduate degree, the salary is higher, and the opportunities to work within more specialized areas of law enforcement are easier to obtain.

Good probation officers are organized and can communicate effectively, both written and verbally, within the court system, to the criminals and any agencies involved in the probation of the criminal. Patience and objectivity are also qualities of a good probation officer, as they must deal with the stresses and frustrations that may occur while working with men and women who may object to the probation officer’s involvement in their lives.

Probation officers can make a big difference in the community, as well as in the lives of those they are monitoring. They are a liaison between a criminal and the court system, and can help point a criminal toward beneficial programs and opportunities, as well as make sure they fulfill the stipulations of their probation, and help the criminal stay out of jail.

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