Washington’s Department of Corrections Division of Community Corrections calls probation and parole officers Community Corrections Officers. The civil service professionals who serve in Washington’s probation and parole officer jobs as community corrections officers are responsible for the supervision of 18,000 offenders on work release detail or who reside in the community on a probationary status.
Washington’s laws on offender release changed in June 2012 when a “swift-and-certain” sanction was implemented that would immediately return parolees to jail even after a minor offense. Under this new law, more offenders are being released earlier to the supervision of community corrections officers rather than remaining in jail for the full term of their sentence.
Community corrections officers in Washington are responsible for supervising all types of offenders who are on community release and supervision programs. As of March 2013, 37.2 percent of offenders on active supervision are classified as having a high risk of returning to incarceration for violent crimes. The percentage of high risk nonviolent offenders in Washington is 29.5. Offense types of those on community supervision include, from greatest to least:
- Drug crimes
- Sex crimes
- Property crimes
- Murder 1
- Murder 2
A greater percentage of offenders has come to community supervision directly from jail or the court system (56.8 percent) than from prison (43.2 percent).
Degree Requirements to Become a Probation and Parole Officer in Washington
All applicants for community corrections officer careers in Washington State must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Experience is not required, as the community corrections officer I position is considered an “in-training” position. Ultimately, it is only possible to become a community corrections officer in Washington through training. If successful after one year of employment, those employed in Washington community corrections officer I jobs can move up to community corrections officer II.
Applications for open community corrections officer careers in Washington are taken online. Candidates may be asked to submit other supporting documentation, such as references, college transcripts, or resumes.
Training for Community Corrections Officers in Washington
Once hired, community corrections officers in Washington must attend 160 hours of basic law enforcement academy training, including instruction in firearms (if a position requires the officer to carry firearms), criminal law and procedures, basic arrest, cultural awareness, search and seizure, communication skills and crisis intervention. This training must be completed within the first six months of a community corrections officer’s employment with the state. Training is held in the Burien and Spokane locations of the Basic Law Enforcement Academy.
Community corrections officers I will also receive much training on the job. For the first year, a community corrections officer is considered to be a trainee. After a successful year as a Washington community corrections officer I, an individual is eligible for community corrections officer II positions as they become available.
Continuing Education for Community Corrections Officers in Washington
Yearly, community corrections officers in Washington must re-qualify to carry firearms (if their job requires it) by taking 16 hours of firearms re-qualification training. All community corrections officers in Washington must complete 24 hours of in-service training each year to maintain their positions.