In Laredo, parole officers may serve in one of five tiers. Parole officer I is the entry level position with a salary ranging from $34,572 to $34,776. After 24 months, officers are automatically promoted to the parole officer II tier, which has salaries from $36,636 up to $38,952. Parole officer III, IV and V are supervisory positions and candidates must submit applications to fill any vacancies. The salary ranges for these positions are
- Parole officer III $38,952-44,004
- Parole officer IV $44,004-49,776
- Parole officer V $49,776-55,548
The number of parole officer jobs is expected to increase sharply between 2010 and 2020. The Texas Workforce Commission predicts a 30.4 percent increase in the number of jobs.
The parole officers in Webb County supervised an undersized population of offenders. In 2011, only 584 Webb County residents were incarcerated in state prisons. During this period, 273 county residents were released into the community. Twenty of these were under Community Supervision, while 155 were under parole supervision. There were 98 offenders released due to successful completion of their sentences and not subject to further monitoring. Of all the offenders released, 14 were eventually re-incarcerated.
Steps to Become a Parole Officer in Laredo
Parole officers in Texas are required to hold a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as the behavioral sciences, law or criminal justice.
New parole officers must attend the six-week training program at the Parole Officer Training Academy in Beeville. Firearms training is not provided during this program, but may be obtained independently. The right to carry and use firearms while on duty is permitted, but officers must formally request this privilege from Parole Division headquarters. A psychological evaluation must also be passed prior to authorization. Annual re-qualification with firearms is required.
Within six months of hiring, new officers must also complete the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System course with the Department of Public Safety. After the first year, 20 hours of additional training must be obtained annually.
Changes in the Parole and Corrections Systems of Texas
The projected increase in parole officer jobs is a reflection of a systemic change in the Texas parole system. More prisoners are being released on parole as the corrections systems attempts to cut costs and introduce programs that limit new crimes. In 2001, the Board of Pardons and Paroles released only 25 percent of eligible prisoners. This number has steadily risen since then with 31 percent of eligible convicts granted parole in 2011. Another trend has allowed this number rise; the number of parole revocations has dropped steadily. In 2004, 11,374 parolees had their parole revoked, while in 2011, there were only 6,381 parole revocations.
Texas is still tough on criminals, but legislators have recognized that funds can be more wisely spent than on merely building more expensive prisons. In 2007, Texas had the option of building three prisons, but chose to implement chemical dependency, cognitive retraining, counseling and education programs with those funds. This reflects, in part, the shrinking inmate population, which dropped to 154,000 in 2011, the lowest in five years.