In South Carolina, the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is responsible for managing the cases of youthful offenders. Juvenile probation officers in South Carolina are part of the Community Services Division of this agency and are referred to as community specialists. These specialists operate out of 43 field offices that represent 46 counties. The DJJ received $113 million for its law enforcement efforts in fiscal year 2012.
In 2010, 63% of the juveniles who came before a family court judge were sentenced to probation. Juvenile probation officers in South Carolina monitor the conditions of the probation of the juveniles under their care as stipulated by the family court judge. Officers must develop a plan for the juvenile’s probation within thirty calendar days of their disposition. They need to review the plan after six months and then reformulate it after a year.
Typically, juvenile probation officer jobs in South Carolina involve interviewing the parents or school personnel of the juvenile to determine their behavior at home and in school. This involves determining that they have not had any further offenses, are keeping to a curfew, are performing community service, and that they are attending school on a regular basis.
Becoming a Probation Officer in South Carolina
The primary requirement for those interested in learning how to become a juvenile probation officer in South Carolina is to have a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on social science or an equivalent field. Additional requirements include undergoing a background check, being tested for drug use, and being mobile. Applicants can submit resumes along with their application, but they must fill out the entire application packet.
The DJJ prefers applicants that are familiar with the following:
- Counseling methods
- Community resources
- Expressing information clearly by writing and speaking
- Federal and state laws and regulations that pertain to juvenile offenders
- Constitutional rights
- Interview techniques
- Probation objectives, techniques, and practices
- Techniques of gathering and assessing juvenile criminal and social history
Probation Officer Training in South Carolina
Once individuals have been hired to be juvenile probation officers, they will undergo a significant amount of training, so they are sure to learn how to become a juvenile probation officer. Within the first three months of being hired, new officers are required to undergo 62 hours of basic training. They must train for an additional 68 hours within their first year. Juvenile probation officers in South Carolina are required to continue their training as part of their careers and must take part in 40 hours of training a year.
Part of juvenile probation officer training in South Carolina involves familiarizing the officers with victim services. The DJJ has a focus on Balance and Restorative Justice (BARJ) in which juvenile offenders are given the chance to help repair the harm they have done and to give back to the community by participating in community service projects. One aspect of the BARJ program is to train juvenile offenders in victim empathy.
Juvenile Delinquency Rates in South Carolina
The frequency of referrals to family court for juvenile delinquency varied greatly between counties in 2010. Charleston County had a much higher number of referrals than any other county. The most common reasons for juveniles to be referred to family court in fiscal year 2010 were:
- Disturbing schools
- Simple assault and battery
- Public disorderly conduct
The juvenile crime rates in South Carolina have been dropping for some offenses and increasing for others. As measured by the juvenile arrest rate in 2010 as compared to 2009, the following categories of juvenile offenses decreased by the following percentages:
- Robbery: 38%
- Breaking or entering: 25.9%
- Aggravated assault: 8.3%
- Property crimes: 13.1%