5 Duties of a Probation Officer

Probation Officer Duties

  • Presentence Investigation
  • Supervisory Role
  • Mentorship
  • Restitution
  • Community Service Monitoring

The daily duties of a probation officer entail working with criminal offenders who have made a mistake and broken one or more of society’s laws. When that happens, they are sometimes given the opportunity to be placed on probation and they are given a probation officer who will oversee their particular case. While on probation, the offender is kept from imprisonment and is given a set of rules and regulations they must follow. Failure to follow those rules can result in the cancellation of probation and being placed in prison.

The probation officer plays a vital role in helping offenders integrate back into society. This is achieved in a variety of different ways and is performed with the highest level of personal integrity, always keeping in mind the issues of public safety in relation to the offender.

Presentence Investigation

When an offender is found guilty of an infraction, a probation officer is given the task of conducting a presentence investigation. The purpose of this investigation is to determine any extenuating circumstances the court should address. In some situations, a probation officer might initiate financial aid or start the process for a mental health evaluation to be conducted on the offender.

Supervisory Role

When an offender is assigned a probation officer, that officer is charged with the task of making sure the offender fully understands the conditions of their probation. Since any violation of the conditions can result in probationary status being removed and the remainder of any incarceration time being put into effect, this is extremely important. In addition to making certain that individuals on probation understood what is expected of them, probation officers in supervisory roles will make unscheduled visits to the workplace of the offender, as well as ensure the individual does not frequent any establishment that has been deemed “off limits.”


Some probation officers act as mentors to individuals who have shown a willingness to challenge themselves into a more productive and rewarding life. Since the probation officer truly doesn’t desire to see anyone throw their lives away, they sometimes will go above and beyond what is required of them. A CNBC story revealed that one of the reasons that CEO Jay Coughlan had his sentence of criminal vehicular homicide reduced to a misdemeanor was based on testimony from community members and from his probation officer, who recognized the potential in Coughlan.


As reported by the Ithaca Journal, another duty of a probation officer is to ensure that offenders who have been ordered to pay restitution for their crimes do so. They remain in contact with any members of the offender’s family, as well as employers. Instructors who might be involved in teaching the offender either a skill or assisting in pursuing an academic path provide the probation officer with valuable information when making an assessment.

Community Service Monitoring

Some offenders are given mandatory community service as part of their sentencing. Probation officers, such as those working for the U.S. Probation Officer in the District of Columbia, are given the job of making sure the offenders are fulfilling their community service duties. When the offender helps out with community service, the offender is giving back to the community and may actually experience a sense of belonging within that community.

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While the duties of a probation officer can be challenging and difficult, the probation officer has the potential to help criminal offenders turn their lives around and become valuable assets to both their communities and society.