Juvenile probation cases in Texas are handled by the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD), which was recently established in December 2011. TJJD is responsible for cases that were previously handled by the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission and the Texas Youth Commission. These two commissions were abolished when the Texas Senate created the TJJD. More than 1800 juvenile probation officers are certified to work throughout Texas.
During 2010, the number of youths in adjudicated probation in Texas averaged 26,739 per day. In Texas, juvenile probation officer jobs involve helping youths become rehabilitated by:
- Diverting them to other activities
- Helping them get treatment where necessary
- Making them accountable for their actions
- Providing guidance and counseling
Degree and Experience Requirements for Juvenile Probation Officers in Texas
Applicants for juvenile probation officer jobs in Texas are required to be at least 21 years old and have a bachelor’s degree from schools with accreditation recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Additional requirements include either one-year of graduate study in an approved field such as:
- Social work
- One year of work or intern experience with:
- A juvenile justice agency dealing with disadvantaged people or offenders
- Case work
- Community work
- Social service
A background check is also required for those interested in learning how to become juvenile probation officers in Texas, as well as a driver’s license that is valid and recognized in the state.
Newly hired officers learn how to become juvenile probation officers in Texas by getting at least 80 hours of training. These officers also have to pass a competency exam as part of the certification process.
Juvenile probation officers in Texas are required to be knowledgeable in the following areas:
- Case planning and management
- Courtroom proceedings and presentation
- Ethics codes and disciplinary and revocation hearing procedures
- Identification and reporting of neglect, abuse, and exploitation
- Legal issues: Texas Family Code
- Legal liabilities
- Prison Rape Elimination Act
- Safety of officers
- Suicide prevention and intervention
- Supervising youths with mental illness issues
Juvenile Offenders in Texas
The rate of juvenile arrests in Texas dropped nearly 10% from 2009 to 2010, although nearly 116,500 youths were arrested by law enforcement agencies in 2010. Over 66,700 of them were referred to probation. Less than 21% of the 2010 referrals from arrests were for felonies. The rate of referrals for violent felonies dropped over 5% in 2010 as compared to 2009. Within this category, the number of referrals for robbery and homicide decreased. The rates of aggravated assault and sexual assault stayed about the same.
An additional 19,833 youths were referred from other sources, including schools and the Texas Youth Commission. The average age of the youths referred for probation was 15 years of age in 2010, although 16 year olds were referred at a higher rate. Over 80% of the juveniles referred were attending school in either regular or home programs.