The main population center in Dakota County is Hastings, which is where the juvenile probation services main office is located. Dakota County is part of the state’s Community Corrections Act membership, which includes 17 judicial districts in the state that cover 32 counties (Dakota County being the largest member.)
In Minnesota, a county has three options when it comes to juvenile probation service systems, they include:
- The Community Corrections Act
- The Minnesota Department of Corrections
- The County Probation Officers Department
The main difference between how these three service systems operate has to do with the main responsibilities of officers and how services are delivered to those on probation.
In 2011, Dakota County experienced a slight decrease in their juvenile probation population, which stood at 1,334 that year.
In order to become a juvenile probation officer in Dakota County, applicants must first have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. It is preferred that the bachelor’s degree be in the social and behavioral sciences, such as psychology, sociology, criminology, counseling, social work or human services, among many other related fields of study.
Those with work, volunteer or internship experience in a related field of study are given preferential treatment during the hiring process, as are those with military experience- as long as they left the military with an honorable discharge.
Upon successful completion of the hiring process, juvenile probation officer recruits are then required to complete training at the Department of Corrections training academy. While at the academy, recruits are required to complete 60 hours of training classes in subjects such as communication skills, crisis management, law enforcement techniques, departmental procedures and counseling at-risk youth, amongst many other subjects pertinent to the day-to-day responsibilities of an officer in Dakota County.
All juvenile probation officers are also required to complete an additional 40 hours of training each and every year that they are employed by the Community Corrections Act department in Dakota County. Additional training focuses on refining skills learned while on the job, as well as staying up to date on new department procedures and other modifications that may be made to the juvenile justice system in the county.
Dakota County mainly focuses on evidence-based juvenile probation techniques and finding alternative probation sentences for offenders. Each offender is classified according to their chances of reoffending, and based on the classification; low-risk offenders will be given community-based techniques, while high-risk youth may be placed in residential monitoring areas such as juvenile detention facilities.
It is the responsibility of juvenile probation officers in Dakota County to monitor and supervise offenders and to find the best course of action where the probation sentence is concerned.