Juvenile Probation Officers work with youth who have been found guilty of an offense, but have not been sentenced to detention. Ideally, professionals in this field should enjoy working with youths. In Rhode Island, Juvenile Probation Officer careers are found with the Division of Juvenile Correctional Services. This division is part of the state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).
Requirements for Juvenile Probation Officer positions in Rhode Island include having at least a Bachelor’s Degree. In addition, applicants must have a year’s worth of experience working with juveniles. This could be as part of a job or on a volunteer basis, such as being involved with the Boy or Girl Scouts, or having been a camp counselor.
The DCYF provides a substantial amount of mandatory training for those interested in learning how to become a Juvenile Probation Officer in Rhode Island. The department provides about 80 hours of training before the recruits start interacting with youths. Juvenile Probation Officers must pass a final exam at the end of this training to continue in their positions. After this, training will continue for six months. Once Juvenile Probation Officers are established in their jobs, they must continue being trained for at least 20 hours a year.
Probation Services for Youths in Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island was ahead of its time in its approach to handling juvenile crime and delinquency. They were the first state in the U.S. to separate juvenile adjudication proceedings from those for adults. Legislators enacted separate hearings and dockets for juvenile cases in 1898 for Providence and Newport counties and then in 1915 for the whole state.
Maintaining high quality services for youth in Rhode Island has been a priority in the state. The General Assembly created the Permanent Legislative Oversight Commission for the DCYF to ensure that the department implemented reforms that focused on the child and the family.
Juvenile Probation Officers in Rhode Island supervise adolescents who have been placed on probation by Family Court. They also provide community based residential care for juveniles who require residential care, but not a structured setting like the Rhode Island Training School for Youths. The DCYF requires Juvenile Probation Officers to meet monthly with the youths in their caseloads at the juvenile’s residence.
Rhode Island has a number of regional probation units for youth. They are located in:
- East Bay/Warren
- South County/Newport
- Kent County/Cranston
- Pawtucket/East Providence—Woonsocket
Juvenile Crime Rates in Rhode Island
In 2008, 50% of the youthful offenders in Rhode Island were 16 and 17 years old. 75% of juvenile offenses in Rhode Island fall into the following categories:
- Drug Offenses
- Various disorderly behaviors
The state has been having success with its approach to juvenile crime. Between 1994 and 2008, the number of violent crimes referred to Family Court in Rhode Island fell by over one third. More recently, the crime and delinquency rate for juveniles in Rhode Island fell 23% in 2011 as compared to 2012. This was true for all categories of crime measured except for status offenses. These are acts such as truancy and disobedient conduct that would not be punishable if the offenders were adults.