Juvenile probation officers in Virginia assist the court in holding youths accountable for their actions and helping them to reform. Their jobs involve monitoring the youths’ adherence to their probation plans and coordinating the delivery of other services from social workers and other human services providers.
The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) handles juvenile crime in the Commonwealth of Virginia, except in Arlington, Falls Church, and Fairfax counties. In these counties, juvenile justice efforts operate under the jurisdiction of the county or city managers. In the rest of the Commonwealth, juvenile offenders are under the Division of Community Program of the DJJ, which has 35 court services units in the state.
Virginia’s Youth Assessment and Screening Program
Deciding how much risk a juvenile offender poses to the community is a major part of developing a case plan for a youth’s probationary period. The Commonwealth of Virginia implemented the Youth Assessment and Screening Program (YASI) in 2010. This program has been used throughout the U.S. and provides a rigorous assessment of the risk that a juvenile poses to the community based on a prediction of how likely the individual is to reoffend.
Meeting the Requirements to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer in Virginia
The basic requirements for careers as juvenile probation officers in Virginia include:
- Being knowledgeable about the criminal justice system
- Court proceedings
- Being able to interpret regulations, statutes, and guidelines
- Having experience with interviewing and counseling
- Being able to identify and use community resources and other agencies
- Being able to relate to people of diverse socioeconomic groups
- Being able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing
- Having experience in data entry and word processing
- Having a driver’s license valid in Virginia by the time of employment
It is preferred that applicants have a bachelor’s degree in human services along with experience in case management in a juvenile justice agency and/or have progressively responsible experience with assisting troubled juveniles and their families.
Training to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer in Virginia
Once individuals have been hired, they will learn how to become a juvenile probation officer in Virginia through considerable amounts of training. Several days of the required training are devoted to becoming proficient in using the YASI system. The first part of this training takes two days and involves learning to administer the system, along with effective interview styles that help to motivate youth. The second part of this training takes another two days and trains the juvenile probation officer in developing case plans. After this first year, juvenile probation officers are required to participate in additional training.
Juvenile Crimes in Virginia
Of the 355,595 arrests in Virginia in 2011, less than 9% of these involved juveniles. The most common reason for juveniles to be arrested in that year was for committing simple assaults. The second most common reasons were running away and using drugs. The great majority of arrests for drug offenses were for using marijuana.
In 2004, about half of the juveniles arrested were 16 or 17 years old. The primary reason that youths were arrested for having committed criminal offenses was for property crimes rather than for crimes against another person.