5 Duties of a Probation Officer

Title 18 of the U.S. Code is the section that employers use to define the duties of a probation officer. These include communication, instruction, reporting and supervision responsibilities.

Assessments

When referrals are received by the organization, parole officers initiate contact with the offender, their family and law enforcement personnel. They conduct home, school and work visits in order to gather information and implement the family involvement model. If a crime has been committed or is suspected, they initiate contact with the victim or reporter to obtain additional information that will help them with case handling and disposition. Depending on the program, they may engage with the offender to determine developmental, familial, employment and financial needs. During their assessment, they obtain collateral information regarding education, mental health, substance use, gang activity and criminal history.

Case Management

After parole officers facilitate the completion of comprehensive assessments, they may send out referrals to partner organizations and community programs. This commonly includes requests for housing, employment, work training and education. They formulate and document case management strategies based on assessments and information gathered that address the specific needs of parolee. For example, they may make a treatment recommendation that includes mandatory inpatient rehabilitation. Every few weeks, their clients are required to check in with their parole officer. During this time, they discuss goals and focus on averting exposure to situations that increase the risk of recidivism.

Court Proceedings

Parole officers have the duty of accompanying their clients during court hearings in order to support organizational recommendations for the parolee. They confer and advocate with attorneys, court aids and various legal representatives, such as public defenders and community representatives, regarding the information gathered during the screening, assessment and supervision processes. While they participate in legal proceedings, they must represent their clients in a fair, but firm way that balances equality, accountability, public safety and needs of the victimized community. Before they attend court, parole officers must prepare and maintain assessments, social histories, court reports and related correspondence. They may also testify at hearings when they submit violation of probation or delinquency petitions.

Interventions and Supervision

Parole officer duties include intervening or increasing supervision levels in order to help their clients comply with their parole terms. They use risk assessments during intake to prepare how to negotiate, implement and modify a case plan for their clients. They sometimes conduct face-to-face meetings in their client’s homes or various community-based settings. After court proceedings, they initiate a face-to-face meeting with the parolee and their family members to review the court order, answer questions and establish updated guidelines and expectations. In order to intervene with clients who are elusive, they must gain firsthand knowledge of where their clients are living, working and spending their time.

Records Management

Parole officers also have technical and documentation duties. That is, they access criminal justice information systems to perform all case management activities, which include risk screening, assessments, case planning, interventions and various histories. They upload required forms into the program and ensure accuracy and timeliness. They may be required to maintain both hard copy and electronic records, which are often shared with applicable law enforcement agencies. They sometimes review histories to identify intake trends, verify accuracy and create statistical reports. They must obtain and maintain their client’s photograph with other relevant images

The duties of a probation officer also include meetings, investigation, community collaboration and special assignments with other law enforcement agencies.

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