The juvenile probation services in Doña Ana County are conducted by Juvenile Probation Officers working in the Children, Youth and Families Department within the New Mexico State Government. Out of a total juvenile population (from age 10 to 17) of 23,640, there were 3,040 juvenile arrests in 2007. Of these 1,140 were submitted to juvenile courts, while 1,800 were diverted to alternative programs. While 391 juveniles were sentenced to detention, almost 420 were placed on probation.
Requirements and Training to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer in Doña Ana County, New Mexico
Juvenile probation officer jobs in Doña Ana County can be found on the New Mexico State Government website. Applicants interested in learning how to become juvenile probation officers must possess the following qualifications:
- Have at least an associate’s degree with 15 semester hours in one or more of the following
- Criminal justice
- Juvenile justice
- Public administration
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have good moral character without any felony convictions
- Ability to pass a drug test
Following hiring, new juvenile probation officers must complete 120 hours of pre-employment training. The must also successfully complete a CPR/First Aid course and a course in Mace/OC Spray within one year of hiring. After the first year, juvenile probation officers must complete at least 40 hours of in-service training each year.
Issues Related to Juvenile Delinquency in Doña Ana County
Los Cruces and Doña Ana County suffer from several epidemics that have contributed to juvenile delinquency. The first is the growing presence of gangs in the county. Estimates range from a few hundred to almost 3,000 gang members within the city. Almost 44 percent of inmates at a local correctional institution have some relationship with gangs.
The prevalence of gang activity is contributing to a number of youth related problems, including truancy. In order to combat this the Juvenile Probation Parole Office, the District Attorney and local school districts have developed the Truancy Parent Accountability Court. Launched in 2012, this new program is expected to diminish the almost 274 truancy referrals sent to the Doña Ana County probation office.
Other contributing factors to juvenile delinquency include the high level of poverty found in New Mexico. Almost 28.8 percent of children in New Mexico are living in poverty compared to the national average of 20.0 percent. The sense of hopelessness and despondency commonly associated with poverty often result in drug use and alcoholism which is prevalent among youths in Doña Ana County. The number of youths in Doña Ana County who have attempted suicide is 10.5 percent while only 6.3 percent nationally. A recent study by the New Mexico Human Services Department found that the use of ecstasy, cocaine and inhalants was higher in Doña Ana County youths than in the rest of the country.