Despite its proximity to the highly violent city of New Orleans, unincorporated Jefferson Parish had a homicide rate approximately 85% lower than that of New Orleans in 2007. Part of the way that Jefferson Parish helps to prevent crime is through proactive efforts targeting delinquent youth. These efforts have been funded by two high-profile granting agencies—the MacArthur Foundation and the Anne E. Casey Foundation.
645 juveniles were placed on probation in Jefferson Parish in 2009. Over 36 juvenile probation officers based in the parish supervise such youths. That year the Louisiana Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Advisory Board presented the Don Wydra Memorial Award to the juvenile probation manager of the parish because of the excellent juvenile probation services available in Jefferson Parish.
Requirements to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer in Jefferson Parish
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification required to become a juvenile probation officer in Jefferson Parish. Six years of work experience in any field may be permitted to substitute for this requirement if the work was performed full-time.
Candidates who do not have a bachelor’s degree can combine college credit hours from an accredited college or university with work experience to substitute for up to four years of the work requirement:
- 30-59 hours is the equivalent of one year of experience
- 60-89 hours is the equivalent of two years of experience
- 90-199 hours is the equivalent of three years of experience
- 120 or more hours is the equivalent of four years of experience
Applicants with 120 hours of college credit must also have two years of work experience.
Additional requirements to become a juvenile probation officer in Jefferson Parish include:
- Not having a misdemeanor domestic violence or a felony conviction
- Possessing a driver’s license that is valid in Louisiana
- Willingness and ability to carry and handle firearms
Training to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer in Jefferson Parish
Newly hired employees of Jefferson Parish Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) learn how to become juvenile probation officers through the curriculum of the Corrections Juvenile Services-Agent. These officers are trained to be peace officers, including becoming certified in the use of firearms. This training takes 120 hours.
Juvenile probation officers in Jefferson Parish are required to undergo 40 hours of training a year to continue in their careers. They must also be recertified annually on their ability to sue firearms.
Improving Jefferson Parish’s Juvenile Probation Services
Jefferson Parish received a MacArthur Foundation grant from Louisiana Models for Change to comprehensively review their juvenile probation system and to determine ways to improve the functioning of the DJS. The report was finalized in 2010, and the DJS worked on implementing the 71 recommendations proposed.
Alternatives to Formal Processing – This strategy seeks to limit the number of low risk juveniles that are formally processed by the juvenile justice system and diverting them to alternative methods of sanctions and treatments.
Since 2010, Juvenile Diversion has accepted 66% more cases. The reported success rate for juveniles completing this program has increased from 56% to 72%.
Evidence-Based Practices – These types of approaches focus on using techniques in the prevention and treatment of juveniles that have been shown scientifically to produce results such as reducing levels of delinquency, substance abuse, and behavioral problems.
Jefferson Parish refined its screening and assessment tools to make treatment decisions based on an existing system known as SAVRY (Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth). The results of this assessment determine the level of probation that is used with the juveniles.
By implementing treatments based on these assessments, the DJS found statistically significant differences in the re-arrest rate after six months. Fewer youths were found to be re-offending.