The juvenile justice system of Washington State is unique among states in the U.S. The sentences imposed on juveniles are determinate—they have a set period of time. The combination of the seriousness of the offense is factored with the juvenile’s prior criminal history. This is used to calculate the length of time the youth will be subject to probation.
Juvenile probation services in Washington State are administered at the county level. In all but four counties, these services are administered by local courts. In Skagit, Whatcom, and Clallam counties, juvenile probation is administered by the county legislative authority. In King County, the County Executive administers detention.
Job Duties of Washington’s Juvenile Probation Officers
The cases of juvenile offenders are usually heard in Juvenile Court, a division of Superior Court, although they can be tried in adult courts in Washington. Superior Court Judges and Commissioners hear cases of juveniles when they involve:
- Status (i.e., truancy)
The jobs of juvenile probation officers in Washington generally involve dealing solely with juvenile offenders. Juvenile probation officers in Washington State monitor court-ordered mandates such as:
- Attending school
- Not taking drugs or alcohol
- Being on curfew
- Undergoing counseling.
Basic and Educational Requirements for Becoming a Juvenile Probation Officer
The specific requirements to become a juvenile probation officer in Washington State vary, since each county controls its own juvenile court system. The standard qualification is to have a bachelor’s degree in some type of behavioral science, such as psychology or criminal justice.
Newly hired employees learn how to become a juvenile probation officer in Washington through state-mandated training conducted by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. This must be completed within six months after employment has started. Those with careers as juvenile probation officers in the different counties will have different training requirements once their initial training has been completed.
Juvenile Crime Rates in Washington
The rate of arrests of juveniles decreased from over 50 arrests per 1000 youths in 1994 to be less than 25 in 2009. This brought the juvenile crime rate in Washington State to be about average of that in the U.S., instead of being substantially higher like it had been.
The rate of arrests for violent crimes by juveniles varies greatly among the counties in Washington. In 2009, the rate of Clallam count was over 40% greater for Clallam County than for the counties with the next highest arrest rates—Benton and Yakima Counties.