Prison overpopulation and the exploding costs of incarceration have become hot topic issues for most states. This has helped further the argument in favor of probation and parole being a critical component of the criminal justice system.
Probation officers have therefore become a significant piece of the puzzle for reducing recidivism rates and achieving community safety. They are the professionals who are tasked with assessing the risk of the offender to the community and for identifying the needs of the offender so as to ensure a successful reintegration back into the community.
Probation officers are often said to “wear many hats,” meaning that they often serve to provide guidance, mentoring, supervision, and direction to offenders, and they must work to address issues that may affect a successful outcome. They reinforce positive behavior and encourage change of their offenders, all the while ensuring that community safety is preserved.
How Probation Helps Ensure the Safety of the Public
Community safety is achieved in a number of ways:
- Probation officers hold probationers accountable by ensuring financial restitution is paid to victims. They also work with local community groups to inform victims of the release of offenders and offer support to victims.
- Probation officers refer probationers to treatment facilities and community programs and follow up to ensure attendance. They identify the needs of their probationers and ensure proper treatment and support is available.
- Probation officers check in with family members, employers and treatment providers to ensure compliance and encourage positive behavior. They develop a trusting relationship with the offender and often serve as a positive role model.
- Probation officers ensure compliance for sex offenders, including housing requirements and frequent monitoring.
- Probation officers frequently check DUI/DWI offenders are not drinking and driving by performing bar checks, performing breathalyzer testes, monitoring alcohol consumption, monitoring alcohol ankle bracelets, and ensuring compliance with ignition lock installations.
- Probation officers monitor the whereabouts of offenders through electronic monitoring bracelets.