Offices under the Family Courts specific to each judicial circuit manage juvenile probation services, although the state’s Judiciary Branch provides funding for these services. Hawaii enjoys a relatively small number of juvenile probationers. According to the Hawaii Attorney General’s office, the number of probationers remained around 500 between 1999 and 2008. This remained steady despite a steep increase in the number of juvenile arrests of young men during this period.
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How to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer in Hawaii: Education Requirements
Candidates for juvenile probation officer jobs should possess at least a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields:
- Law enforcement
- Juvenile psychology
- Social welfare
Candidates who possess an advanced degree like a Master of Social Work may experience competitive advantages in the hiring process, career advancement and additional salary benefits. Well qualified candidates should also have at least one year of professional experience in a related field like substance recovery, detention or social work.
The state of Hawaii does not utilize statewide standards for juvenile probation officer training, so customized training programs are developed by each of the eight field offices within the District Court Probation Branch of the Administrative Office of the State Courts. Supervisors conduct introductory and ongoing training for juvenile probation officers.
Unique Programs in Hawaii’s Juvenile Justice System
Among the most important programs within the Hawaii juvenile probation system is the Hawaii Girls Court, which is one of the first gender specific courts in the country. In addition to an all-female workforce of judges, therapists, detention officers and probation officers, the Hawaii Girls Court seeks to develop programs that recognize social and biological differences of women. This unique system has proven highly effective in reaching young female offenders and actuating positive changes in their lives.
Another highly effective program is the Intensive Supervision Juvenile Probation Program. This is a four-stage program that focuses on high-risk offenders involved in gangs or substance abuse. The program utilizes robust surveillance and behavior modification techniques to instill positive life changes. Juvenile probation officers in this program are usually assigned smaller caseloads, and utilize advanced methodologies like electronic monitoring and random drug testing. This program has produced a 63 percent success rate for probationers who successfully completed the program, which stands in contrast to the 44 percent success rate among those who failed to complete Intensive Supervision.
A study by the Juvenile Justice State Advisory Council found that certain ethnic groups exhibited a greater propensity for committing offenses. The study also found that almost half of the arrests were for running away and truancy rather than violations to persons or property. Criticism has been directed at the juvenile probation system, which is too eager to send probationers into the detention system. The study produces recommendations that include closer cooperation among courts, social welfare groups and schools. It also recommended adding a civil citation system that would assign tickets rather than immediately detaining probation violators.