Within the District of Columbia, probation and parole services are handled by a federal agency called the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (COSA). In the District, probation and parole officers are designated as “community supervision officers.” CSOSA currently employs about 90 community supervision officers and pays them, on average, annual salaries of $51,640.
How to Become a Washington D.C. Probation and Parole Officer
All applicants looking at what it takes to become a probation and parole officer in Washington, DC must possess a bachelor’s degree or higher in a behavioral or social science field. Degree holders in other concentrations may apply if they have at least 24 semester or 36 quarter hours in behavioral or social sciences. Work experience related to social or behavioral science can be substituted in some cases. Experience in a clinical or social work setting is also a competitive advantage. CSOSA also offers students an opportunity to work in the agency through non-paid internships. Students may be in high school, undergraduate or graduate school.
This is a federal employee position, so applicants should possess the following qualifications
- U.S. citizen
- At least 20 years of age
- Registered with Selective Service if male
- Possesses valid driver’s license
Because CSOs do not carry firearms, the training for new officers is not integrated with law enforcement, but conducted within the agency. Course topics include
- Case management
- Personal safety
- Report writing
- Information systems operations
- Drug investigations
CSOSA was initially created in 1997 and is one of the most innovative probation and parole organizations in the country. Its founders designed this agency to operate along the latest industry guidelines, which have been developed from decades of research into effective community supervision research. Community supervision officers have some of the lowest caseloads in the nation, with an average of about 50 offenders. This allows each CSO to devote the appropriate amount of time and effort to properly manage each case.
CSOSA has instituted a variety of specialized programs for mentally ill, sex offenders, domestic violence, DUI, and day reporting. High risk offenders are scheduled for eight or more visits per month, in addition to time with treatment and counseling professionals. Many of these offenders are monitored by using satellite assisted tracking systems. Substance abusers are mandated for drug tests twice a week.
CSOs are often partnered with Metropolitan Police and routinely train with them. CSOSA utilizes some of the most advanced case management tools in the industry including the Supervision Management Automated Records Tracking system, which distributes case information automatically with all agency and allied department personnel. CSOSA also utilizes a customized supervision plan for each parolee or probationer.
CSOSA also utilizes an immediate response strategy to limit supervision violations. Since 2004, 94 percent of violations have had CSOs immediately respond which can limit re-incarceration or re-sentencing. The agency also balances these strict remediation responses with highly effective rehabilitation programs that include job assistance, halfway housing, and resourcing for mental health or drug treatment.