Juvenile Probation Officer Careers in Cook County, Illinois

In 2008, Illinois led the country in its arrest rate for juvenile violent crimes. In different regions of the County in 2012, the number of arrests among youths aged 10-16 ranged from zero in the northwestern part of the County to more than 1000 in one section of Chicago.  The youth homicide rate in Chicago is particularly acute in Roseland, Woodlawn, and Morgan Park.

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Juvenile probation officers help youths that have been arrested in Cook County.  They analyze the risks that these juveniles pose to society and monitor the progress of those placed under their care.  In Cook County, the Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department employs approximately 355 sworn personnel.

Despite being considered one of the most dangerous cities in the US, the total number of juvenile arrests in Chicago dropped over 17% from 2003 to 2008.  Between 2009 and 2012, the number of total youth arrests dropped further.  This decrease ranged from 0.09% in parts of the city to half a percent in other areas of Chicago.

Requirements to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer in Cook County

Applicants for juvenile probation officer jobs in Cook County must first be certified by the Probation Division of the Illinois Courts.  Certification is granted by the Administrative Office of this division. One of the requirements to become certified is to have a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields or a related area of social or behavioral science:

  • Criminal justice
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Social work

Once the applicants have been certified, they are placed on a list of those eligible to be hired.

New employees of the Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department learn how to become juvenile probation officers through a week of basic training provided by the state’s Probation Division.  This must take place within the first year of their careers.  Such training is offered several times a year.

Chicago’s Crime Lab Study to Reduce Juvenile Crime

Given Chicago’s high rate of juvenile crime and youth homicide rate, the city has been a magnet for intensive efforts to reduce juvenile crime.  One such effort was a controlled study known as the Chicago Crime Lab study.

This program targeted youths at a higher risk for dropping out of school or being involved in violence.  Over 2,700 junior high and high school males were assigned either to a group that used non-traditional sports activities and counseling, or to a control group that did not receive any special services.

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The group of youths that were assigned for intervention was trained in “pro-social” cognitive skills such as impulse control and personal responsibility.  The results were highly notable.  Violent crime arrests were reduced by 44%, and the arrest rate for other types of crimes such as vandalism and possession of a weapon dropped by 36%. An additional benefit was that the youths in the program had enhanced school attendance rates and improved grades.

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