Retiring Juvenile Probation Officer Reflects on Her Career

Being a probation officer is not always the easiest job. Some cases are incredibly uncooperative; others are simply painful to listen to. Either way, Alma Turner always did her work with the goal of helping people turn their lives around. And now that she’s retiring, the Calhoun County juvenile probation office in Alabama will be sorely missed.

Alma Turner began her path towards correctional work with an undergrad in sociology and an internship with the Jefferson County family court. From there, she moved onto a job with a youth services department before going back to Calhoun County to work in the juvenile courts. She says that working with children has always been her calling, and her time in the Calhoun County system reflects that.

Part of Turner’s legacy lies in the programs she leaves behind that make the juvenile probation office more proactive. She believes that positive influences are needed so that crimes can be prevented, and much of her work points to that passion. This has had an immense effect on the Calhoun County juvenile probation office, which has experienced an immense drop in caseloads from 100 per officer to less than 50, all because of Turner’s passion.

Despite her positive influence, Turner was not immune to the stresses and heartbreak of the life of a probation officer. She listened to hundreds of kids tell her about horrible crimes they had committed, coming from difficult and stressful backgrounds. She found that like many other probation officers, such stories wore her down.

But the thing that kept her going through the years was the steady flow of positive notes she received from kids she used to manage who grew up to complete college degrees. They thank her for saving their lives and being the positive influence in a time where they had no hope at all. In those moments, the hardship of her job was worth the reward of a life changed forever.