How do you think the investigative and supervisory functions of probation can be most effectively organized?

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Probation exists as both a privilege and a punishment. In some cases, criminals are released early from prison into a transitional probationary period. In other cases, an offender may be sentenced to probation in lieu of jail time in cases where incarceration may not be necessary due to the severity...

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Probation exists as both a privilege and a punishment. In some cases, criminals are released early from prison into a transitional probationary period. In other cases, an offender may be sentenced to probation in lieu of jail time in cases where incarceration may not be necessary due to the severity of the crime and the chance of re-offense.

In most cases, a probation sentence begins with an investigation. Investigators interview all parties involved in the crime as well as family members, employers, and others who are familiar with the defendant. These details are presented to the judge to aid in sentencing.

Supervision occurs during the probationary period. Offenders meet regularly with a probation officer who may also make random visits to the place of residence. The purpose of the supervision process is to ensure the offender is not breaking any rules of probation and, theoretically, to assist with any roadblocks s/he might face along the road. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure the offender does not re-offend.

In terms of making a suggestion for the best way to organize these functions, it's necessary to first assess the goal at hand. What do you hope to accomplish? Are you more concerned with protecting society from the offender? Most concerned with the offender successfully rejoining the workforce? Focused primarily on ensuring the offender protects him/herself from future unhealthy behaviors?

It is necessary for the investigation and supervisory processes to work hand-in-hand in order to reach the best result for each offender. When investigation is done properly, a lot of helpful data can be discovered to assist the supervisor in the process of overseeing rehabilitation and societal reentry. Conversely, the more seriously the supervisor takes the investigator's information and suggestions, the better s/he can target his/her work with the offender.

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I think you need to look at them as two sides of the same coin to effectively organize them. The goal of probation should ultimately be for the improvement of society by rehabilitation, prevention, and encouraging safety. If supervisory functions and investigative functions are performed hand in hand, you can most effectively accomplish these jobs.

Investigating misdeeds and behaviors that lead to criminal behaviors should be coordinated with the supervising aspect of the job - because the more you learn about someone's triggers, misdeeds, and history, the better you can help them recuperate and prevent them from doing harm again. Additionally, the supervisory aspect should be used to enforce authority while investigating. The probation officer is in charge of this individual's improvement, and the officer's authority should be understand as something that will help them improve. In that way, these functions should be performed concurrently.

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According to the source below from the California legislature, probation can best be organized so that probation officers have a mix of cases. Probationers are assigned to either regular or specialized caseloads. Those with specific kinds of profiles or criminal histories, including drug use, may require closer monitoring and may be considered specialized cases. In addition, some probationers are put on banked caseloads, which are considered low risk. To be most efficient, probation officers can have a mix of cases--not all specialized cases that require a great deal of oversight and monitoring.

In addition, probation officers can be rewarded financially, as the report points out, for reducing recidivism and re-incarceration. In other words, if the probationers whom the probation officers are monitoring do not wind up back in jail, the officer can receive a financial reward. These rewards will help motivate probation officers to connect probationers to community-based services, such as drug treatment centers, that will help the probationers.

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When responding to this question, you will first want to consider what is involved in each of these job functions for the probation officer. The investigative function typically includes the assessment of the offender and his/her situation. This may include home, school and work visits. Officers may speak to family, friends or victims and collect information regarding the offenders educational background, mental health status, criminal history and gang affiliation. After a plan has been determined based on the assessment, officers will then supervise the offender in the required steps of the plan and reduce the risk of recidivism. During the supervision phase, officers will meet with the offenders to review the court order, answer questions, and set expectations.

As with any job, using your time effectively and organizing your work tasks is important. When responding to this question, you will want to consider ways to consolidate and simplify these duties. For example, as a parole officer you may develop relationships with various employers in the area who can hire several offenders on your caseload. This will assist in the time management of supervising offenders on the job. Or an officer may want to set up regular meetings with all offenders living in a certain area on a specific day to reduce travel time.

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The investigative and supervisory functions of probation both exist to support a single goal, making sure that criminals do not re-offend. However, without adequate forms of rehabilitation, the probation system simply feeds past offenders back into prisons.

As mentioned in the excellent discussion by Bohemianteacher4u, the more closely supervision and investigation are integrated, the more likely it is that parole officers can discover when criminals are running into difficulties, making a timely intervention more probable. Especially in cases where addictions play a major part in criminal behavior, constant monitoring to ensure that the addict has the means to follow a program of rehabilitation (such as access to transportation, support programs within the criminal's own faith traditions) should be part of both supervisory and investigative functions.

The most important organizational strategy is to build close links between individual parole officers and the people for whom the officer is responsible, and ensuring that case loads are low enough so parole officers have time to review each parolee's case in detail, and see warning flags.

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