What Does a Probation Officer Do on a Daily Basis?

Probation officers play a vital role in the justice system by monitoring those who are convicted of a crime while they are in custody and after they return home.  According to BLS, due to the important nature of this position, there are special requirements in place to become a probation officer that include obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Most positions will also include on-the-job training to address the challenges that exist within high crime areas. For those who are interested in becoming a probation officer, it is helpful to understand what they do on a daily basis.

Conduct Assessments to Determine Needs

A probation officer’s first contact with a law offender typically begins with an assessment of their home, past criminal background and family support system to determine their needs. This assessment may include phone calls or visits to the probationer before they leave police custody, or a probation officer may go to their home to conduct an interview in person. Once the assessment is complete, the probation officer then works with the law offender and other involved parties to develop a plan for their rehabilitation.

Provide Resources for Rehabilitation

The ultimate goal for any probationer is to avoid future problems with the law by developing a lifestyle that supports their personal growth. Probation officers work with law offenders to help them find employment, substance abuse treatment and professional counseling as it is needed. For example, a law offender who is convicted of a crime involving illegal drugs may be referred to a local drug rehab center that helps them comply with court orders that require them to seek addiction treatment. In some instances, a law offender may need help to find affordable housing if it is not safe for them to return to their former home.

Monitor Compliance With the Terms of Probation

A law offender is typically required to report to their probation officer on a daily or weekly basis. During these phone calls or visits to the probation officer’s office, efforts are made to make sure that the probationer does not reoffend or violate the terms of their release. If an offender becomes evasive and does not complete these check-ins on time, then the probation officer may take additional steps to visit their home and offer assistance.

Maintain Records and Attend Court Proceedings

Probation officers must maintain accurate records of their contacts with a law offender because they may be called upon to report their findings in court in certain circumstances. For instance, probation officers are sometimes involved in legal proceedings that occur before a person is sentenced or released, and they are asked to provide information regarding the person’s options for rehabilitation. In instances where a person is not compliant with the conditions of their probation, then the officer may also be required to testify about their observations in court.

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Probation officers stay in close contact with their clients to help them reintegrate into society after they are convicted of a crime. Although a probation officer must perform normal office duties such as record keeping, they must also be willing to go out into the field to meet with law offenders where they live, work or are in custody. By understanding what a probation officer does on a daily basis, you can determine how your abilities fit into this challenging and rewarding career.