Several agencies coordinate juvenile probation services in West Virginia. They include the Administrative Office, the Supreme Court of Appeals, and the Division of Probation Services. Juvenile proceedings in West Virginia are under the concurrent jurisdiction of the Circuit Courts and the Magistrate and Municipal courts.
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The goals of the juvenile justice system in West Virginia are to promote effective interventions that contribute to reforming the behavior of youths involved in delinquent behavior. Juvenile probation officers in the state handle the cases of juveniles both before and after they have been adjudicated.
What it Takes to Become Juvenile Probation Officer in West Virginia
Juvenile probation officers in West Virginia work closely with agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Resources, schools, and community health centers. In particular, they work with Youth Reporting Centers of the Division of Juvenile Services that provide an alternative to detention and help the youths to gain skills and obtain counseling.
The Division of Probation Services oversees drug courts for juveniles in West Virginia. These courts divert non-violent youths with alcohol or substance abuse problems from the court system into individualized treatment programs. Juvenile probation officers also refer youths that are delinquent or considered at risk to the Justice Intervention and Assessment Team to provide intervention services.
Degree Requirements – Those seeking careers as juvenile probation officers in West Virginia are required to have a bachelor’s degree in a field such as criminal justice, psychology, or social work before they can apply for these positions. Once they have been hired, new employees may be required to obtain additional training to learn how to become a juvenile probation officer.
Firearms Training – Requirements for juvenile probation officers that want to carry a firearm include attending the West Virginia State Police Academy. Juvenile probation officers in West Virginia may need to participate in additional yearly training classes.
The West Virginia court system had 46 juvenile probation officers and 93 officers that supervised both adult and juveniles on probation in 2009. The trend in West Virginia is towards having probation officers supervise both juveniles and adults.
The state of West Virginia mandates that each county’s commission should provide office facilities for both juvenile probation officers and their staff. The Supreme Court of Appeals is required to provide all the supplies and equipment that are required.
The jobs of juvenile probation officers in West Virginia include:
- Conducting drug screening and investigations
- Preparing reports before sentencing
- Recommending that criminal offenders receive sanctions
- Monitoring juveniles on probation or supervised release
Juvenile Crime Rates in West Virginia
Over half of the 5693 new juvenile cases reported in West Virginia in 2009 were offenses involving delinquency. The rate of juveniles with delinquency offenses was lower in 2009 than in 2000 and 1999. The average age of the youths involved in delinquency in 2009 was 15.7 years. The main reasons for delinquent offense charges were:
- Property destruction
- Petit larceny
- Shoplifting first offense
- Possessing a controlled substance
Over 35% of the new cases in 2009 were for status offenses—offenses that would not be considered crimes for adults. The most common reason for a status offense was truancy. This offense generated nearly half of the cases. Over 32% of the status offenses in 2009 were for incorrigibility. Nearly 10% of the cases were for possessing tobacco or alcohol.
About 60% of these new cases involved youths who had no prior reported instance of a delinquent or status offense. The number of delinquency cases in West Virginia varied greatly by county with Kanawha County having by far the greatest number of cases in 2009.