Oklahoma juvenile probation officers may work for the state’s Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) or through independent county agencies. Within Oklahoma’s 73 counties, most juvenile probation offices are operated by the Juvenile Services Unit of the OJA.
The number of juveniles entering the juvenile justice system in Oklahoma has declined steadily in recent years with 21,116 referrals in 2005 dropping sharply to 16,085 by 2012. This has also been evidenced by a decline in probation cases with 3,414 in 2005 compared to 2,558 in 2012. This decline has been facilitated by the introduction of several community based programs:
- The Graduated Sanctions Program implements incremental sanctions on juvenile offenders earlier in their community supervision.
- The Community-Based Youth Services Programs provide alternatives to detention including prevention and treatment methods that are utilized in coordination with schools, community organizations and counseling services.
Job Functions of Oklahoma’s Probation Officers
Juvenile probation officers in Oklahoma provide several key pretrial services that include interviewing the youth, family, victims and the arresting officer. They may investigate the offender by collecting criminal history, school records, and work documents. The recommendation for trial, dismissal or probation is usually very influential during the criminal proceedings.
Juvenile probation officers are expected to be on call almost 24 hours a day and travel extensively throughout the state. In some cases, probationers or their families may be transported to other areas with the probation officer. Officers should also be able to create a customized supervision plan for their clients that accommodates their mental health, substance abuse or abusive home setting. Juvenile probation officers are instrumental in finding community resources for their cases and facilitating participation.
Juvenile probation officers are required to communicate with officers of juvenile courts regularly. In some cases they may be required to verbally provide updates on probationer status, but, more typically, they are required to submit written reports about cases. Ability to type and operate several data management systems including JOLTS and CMS may be required to submit written reports.
How to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer in Oklahoma: Education and Training
Those interested in learning how to become juvenile probation officers in Oklahoma can begin their career at one of two levels:
Juvenile Probation Officer I – In order to obtain a job as a Juvenile Probation Officer I in Oklahoma, candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in a behavioral science or a related area of knowledge and have at least one year of experience in:
- Social work
- Clinical psychology
- Substance abuse recovery
Experience with juveniles in these settings is preferred.
Juvenile Probation Officer II – For Juvenile Probation Officer II, candidates should possess:
- Bachelor’s degree with two years of work experience; or
- Master’s degree with at least one year of work experience.
Newly hired juvenile probation officers are expected to complete at least 40 hours of orientation training, 16 hours of Youth Level of Service Inventory instruction, and 40 hours of courses from the training academy before assuming field duties.
Each year after the first year of employment, Oklahoma’s juvenile probation officers are expected to obtain 40 hours of training.