Juvenile probation officers are known as youth service counselors in the state of Mississippi. In Hinds County, youth service counselors are responsible for monitoring the progress of 764 juveniles serving probation sentences, most of which are related to disorderly conduct and minor assault charges- although some cases involve violent crimes and serial probation violations.
Hinds County is also home to the largest juvenile detention facility in the state, which is located in the city of Jackson. The majority of those on probation in Hinds County are under direct probation supervision under the guidance of a youth services counselor. The second most common type of probation sentencing in the county is warned adjusted counsel, which is reserved for juvenile offenders that are serving sentences for minor offenses, are first time offenders or have been deemed by a youth services counselor to be very unlikely to reoffend in the future.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, juvenile probation officer positions are expected to grow by an average of 18 percent through 2020, which makes it one of the faster growing law enforcement positions in the country. As the state of Mississippi is one of the few states that has experienced exponential growth in juvenile crime rates, it is expected that Hinds County, and the rest of the state, will meet- if not exceed- the growth rates estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Education and Training Requirements
Education – Before applying for a youth service counselor position in Hinds County, an applicant must first meet the minimum education requirements for the job. Since the position is very dependent on counseling services, applicants are required to have a master’s degree in counseling, psychology, sociology or a very closely related field in behavioral and human services.
In some instances, an applicant may petition the Personnel Board in order to get the education requirement waived. In order to do this, applicants must demonstrate that they have a relevant combination of work and education experience, as well as the basic skills and competencies to perform the job successfully.
Training – Counselors are required to complete 120 hours of training during their first year of employment. Upon completion of the training, they are then required to receive on-the-job training for six weeks. After the first year of employment, counselors must complete at least 40 hours of additional training each year.
Youth Service Counselor Duties
As the job title implies, the primary responsibility of youth service counselors is to counsel juvenile probation offenders in order to ensure that they do not reoffend and become productive members of society. This goal is reached through intensive interviews, case management, background investigations, workshops, education and individual and group counseling sessions with peers, parents and other prominent figures in a juvenile’s life.
The goal is to rehabilitate juvenile offenders, while also providing them with the tools to serve out their sentence and then move on with their lives in a healthy way for both themselves and for society as a whole.