What Do Probation Officers Do?
Probation officers work at both the state and the federal level. They work with offenders who have been given probation instead of a prison sentence, offenders who are still in prison, or offenders who have just been released from prison. The probation system reduces the strain on overpopulated prisons by allowing low-risk offenders to return to civilian life. Most probation officers work full time, laboring long and irregular hours with the goal of helping offenders avoid committing new crimes. The job carries with it a high level of risk, dangers probation officers may face from time to time. For instance, they may need to interact with dangerous individuals on a constant basis who may become violent.
While executing their duties, probation officers will do a number of things. Their main goal is to ensure the successful rehabilitation of an offender, so they’ll assess an offender and determine the best strategy to use for that offender during his rehabilitation process. One of the things a probation officer will take into consideration is the employment status of the offender. Of course, offenders may find it difficult to find employment after being released from prison, and they are more likely to become repeat offenders if they are unable to find a job. That’s why one of the main duties of a probation officer is assisting a probationer in getting a job. Thus, probation officers will provide probationers with resources like job training, which will make entering the workforce that much easier.
When probationers are placed on probation, they must comply with the conditions of their release. Some such release conditions include undergoing mandated counseling sessions and substance abuse treatment. One of the roles of a probation officer is to ensure that a probationer complies with those conditions. They’ll meet with friends, family members, and employers of the offender to verify whether or not they are attending their sessions and to determine how the offender is faring in his personal life. Probation officers will also frequently meet with the offender to perform drug testing and to discuss how well their rehabilitation is going.
Another important role of a probation officer is reporting the progress of the probationer to a court. So probationers will write detailed reports recounting how the probationer is being treated and what improvements have been made since the probationer was released.
In 2015, the average probation officer was compensated for the work he did with an annual salary of $49,360. The highest paid (top ten percent) probation officers earned an average annual salary of $86,140 that year while the lowest paid (bottom 10%) probation officers earned $32,900. Employment growth within the profession is projected to increase a meager 4% in the next 7 years. However, because the probation system is such a viable alternative to incarceration demand for probation officers will continue to persist.