More than 4,000 employees work at 26 offices and 92 court services facilities within the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. The number of probationers in the system has declined dramatically in recent years with 19,709 youths in 2009, 17,262 in 2010 and 15,411 in 2011. The vast majority of these probations involved at home probation; in 2009 only 778 probationers were housed in non-secure residential treatment centers, only 756 in 2010 and only 672 in 2011.
The average length of probation has remained stable at 222-223 days for at home probationers for 2009-11, while the stays for residential treatment have declined from 105 days in 2009, to 87 in 2010 and, finally, to 88 in 2011.
Changes to Georgia’s Juvenile Justice System
In February of 2013, the Georgia House approved HB 242, which would overhaul the juvenile justice system. The new system would seek to divert youths from detention centers into more community oriented programs including several probation systems. With the current cost for each juvenile incarceration topping $90,000 annually, there is a huge incentive to keep youths in the community.
Although offenses involving injury to others would continue to necessitate imprisonment at Youth Development Campuses, those involving felonies without harming others would carry a maximum of 18 months in lockup and subsequent probation periods of up to 18 months. Minor offenses like truancy, running away and anti-social behavior would likely result in immediate diversion to social services programs.
Becoming a Juvenile Probation and Parole Officer in Georgia:
In order to join the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice as a Juvenile Probation Parole Specialist, candidates should possess the following qualifications:
- Bachelor’s degree; or 2 years of experience as a peace officer; or 2 years of experience working with criminal records, proceedings or findings
- U.S. citizenship or authorized alien status
- Ability to pass a drug test
- No felony convictions
Although a bachelor’s degree is not required, many applicants with such a degree enjoy competitive advantages during the hiring process. The most common degree fields are:
- Social work
- Criminal justice
- Developmental psychology
Juvenile Probation Officer Careers in Georgia
The Georgia DJJ also provides lucrative bonuses for those who have served in the military.
- 1 year of active duty: 2.5 percent salary bonus
- 2 years of active duty: 5.0 percent salary bonus
- 3 years of active duty: 7.5 percent salary bonus
- 4+ years of active duty: 10.0 percent salary bonus
Promotion to the Juvenile Probation Parole Specialist II position also requires successful completion of the Criminal Justice Exam, which is a multiple choice test assessing basic skills of probation and parole officers.
New Juvenile Probation Parole Specialists must complete 40 hours of introductory training and 160 hours of basic juvenile probation and parole officer training within the first six months. Following the first year, 40 hours of additional training is required annually.