Probation Officer Career in Lincoln County, South Dakota

In addition to the county seat of Canton, Lincoln County’s major towns of Harrisburg, Worthing and Lennox contribute to making this an important locale for probation and parole services.  In Lincoln County, the Second Circuit Court, Department of Court Services, conducts probation supervision.  Probation officers throughout South Dakota are designated under the title Court Services Officers (CSO).

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The Department of Court Services maintains a staff of 27 employees. Of these, 20 are Court Services Officers and five are support staff.  A Deputy Chief CSO and Chief CSO supervise this office, which oversees probation services in Lincoln and Minnehaha Counties.

How to Become a Probation Officer in Lincoln County, South Dakota

In order to serve with the Department of Court Services in Lincoln County, candidates should have a baccalaureate degree in one of the following areas:

  • Social sciences
  • Sociology
  • Psychology

This job provides a salary of almost $40,000 per year, so there may be stiff competition for these jobs.  Candidates who wish to improve their chances of selection should strongly consider a graduate degree including a master’s, PhD, or JD.

The Department of Court Services also prefers that new officers have some prior experience in one of the following fields:

  • Social work
  • Counseling
  • Parole
  • Probation

It may be possible to satisfy this preference with an advanced degree.  Candidates may also try to obtain this experience through internships, paid employment or volunteering.  Court Services Officers provide supervision for adults as well as juveniles, so some experience in community supervision of teens or children is advisable.

Candidates should be able to demonstrate competencies in the following:

  • Court procedures
  • Principles of probation work
  • Probation techniques
  • State laws regarding probation
  • Skill with EXCEL, WORD, or email applications

New officers must complete a 28-hour orientation course.  Upon completion of the introductory training program, new officers will receive certification as Court Services Officers.  An additional 16 hours of training must be completed annually to retain this accreditation.

The State of Lincoln County’s Probation System

In 2011, the Second Circuit reported 18 new cases of misdemeanor probation with a year-end total of 144.  Almost $357,000 was collected in restitution from misdemeanor probationers and 33 pre-sentencing investigations resulted in a sentence of misdemeanor probation.  There were 386 new cases of felony probation which resulted in a total of 900 by the end of 2011.  More than 450 pre-sentencing investigations resulted in felony probation sentences, and CSOs collected almost $375,000 in restitution from felony probationers.

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One of the Second District’s most important probation programs is the 24/7 Program which monitors offenders for alcohol intoxication twice daily, seven days a week.  Testing costs are defrayed by fees paid by the offender, and compliance is strictly enforced.  A missed breath test or fail will result in immediate detention.  Since its establishment in 2005, the 24/7 Program has provided enormous cost savings to the Lincoln County government, lowered recidivism rates, reduced jail populations and improved public safety.

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