Hampden County has the largest juvenile probation population in the state of Massachusetts, with 1,051 offenders as of 2012. The juvenile offender population in Hampden County consists of 710 males and 341 females, which are provided probation services through three district offices located in the cities of Springfield, Holyoke and Palmer.
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Massachusetts has a unique juvenile probation system when compared to other states around the country, as the juvenile system is operated under the supervision of juvenile courts, rather than a statewide juvenile services department. In the state there are 11 juvenile courts, each with their own independent juvenile justice services department. The Commissioner of Probation department of the Massachusetts Trial Court system supervises all juvenile probation services in the state. The juvenile probation system in the state is one of the oldest in the nation.
Education and Experience Requirements
In order to be eligible for Hampden County juvenile probation officer jobs, applicants must have at least one year of work experience related to the major duties performed by juvenile probation officers. The following are the preferred areas of work experience:
- Teaching and mentoring
- Special Needs
- School and at-risk youth counseling
- Human services
- Criminal justice
- Case worker
- Social worker
All applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college in combination with the work experience requirement.
A graduate degree in social sciences, behavioral sciences, teaching, counseling, psychology, sociology, education, management, law or criminal justice can be substituted for the work experience requirements.
Once the hiring process is successfully completed, an applicant can then move onto the training phase. During the first year of employment in Hampden County, a juvenile probation officer must complete 120 hours of orientation training. The training will consist of classes related to counseling, case work, report filing, department procedures, communication skills and administrative duties, among many other facets of the position.
There is no requirement for additional training to become a juvenile probation officer in Hampden County, but if an officer would like to be promoted to the juvenile probation officer II position, they must complete an additional 40 hours of training within the first three years of employment with the juvenile justice services department.
Juvenile Probation Officer Job Duties
The main responsibility of juvenile probation officers in Hampden County, and the rest of the state, is to conduct investigations into an offender’s personal history, family and background, in order to offer consultation services and refer them to programs that will help rehabilitate them.
Juvenile probation officers operate under the direct supervision of either the chief probation officer, the first assistant chief probation officer or the assistant chief probation officer depending on the structure of the division office.
Officers are also responsible for interviewing juveniles on probation, conducting case management when needed, report finding to judges and in some cases are required to revoke or modify probation charges.