Probation officers are involved with two types of offenders, those who have been tried in court and given a probationary period as their sentence, and those who have been released from prison and are on probation for a certain period before going completely free. The officers have a case load for each offender.
Offenders given probation by the court
The job of the probation officer is to make certain that the offender complies with the terms set by the court. The offenders understand that if they break the conditions set by the court, they will go immediately to jail. These conditions usually include such things as
- undergoing substance abuse treatment
- seeking employment
- performing community service
- staying out of trouble with the law
- remaining in the locale set by court. (e.g. not leaving the house, not leaving town, county or state)
- being involved in rehabilitation counseling
- seeking housing
Offenders released from prison and given a probationary period
The probation officer must make sure that each person in his caseload follows certain conditions. The former prison inmate who is now on probation must
- seek gainful employment regularly
- report for periodic substance abuse checks
- remain in a half-way house for a time; he/she must also must not leave the area, be it the city, county, or state
- follow a standard pattern of behavior
- notify the probation officer if there is any irregularity from the norms set. (e.g. the probationary inmate may wish to visit an ailing mother or father or attend the funeral of a relative.)
- work with a counselor appointed by the officer
Failure to comply with these stipulations may cause the person on probation to return to prison.
The probation officer must keep accurate records and report to the court from time to time about the caseload. He or she usually is required to have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice; sometimes a master's degree and experience is required. Most prospective employees are between the average age of 21-37.