Brown, Melissa - Probation Officer

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[edit] Job Title (Melissa Brown)

Probation and Parole Officer

[edit] General overview

The probation officer increases public safety for low-risk offenders released from jail. The officer is required to know the case of the offender and supervise them within the community to ensure they are following the rules of their probation or parole, keeping up to date information[1]. The officers supervise the offenders by conducting regular interviews, administering drug and alcohol tests and discussing the offender’s goals and obstacles. After an interview if the offender has not complied with their terms, the officer can make recommendations to the court. A probation officer can be used to testify in court to recommend sentencing conditions[1]. A parole officer works at the federal level while the probation officer works at a provincial level, but both maintain the same job classification[2].

[edit] Job duties and responsibilities

• Interview offenders about rehabilitation into the community, rules, goals and objectives[3]

• Discuss offender rehabilitation with employers, family, and or schools[3]

• Discuss community and social service programs with offender, specifying their needs and where they can be met[3]

• Supervise offender, attend court as their officer[3]

• Interview offenders on probation and parole regularly to supervise them, discussing how they are planning to meet their goals of reintegration and their successes[3]

• Make recommendations to courts if offender is violating terms of release, this can include that their sentence be longer or if they need to use a different plan of action[3]

[edit] Typical workday

Probation officers have multiple jobs to conduct and multiple offenders to see each day. They have multiple cases to keep track of and many people to call. In a typical day, an officer can start by interviewing a sentenced offender to uncover their needs, risks, emotional characteristics and level of correctional intervention[4]. Based on these needs and risks they can determine which supports to send clients to and what kind of employers to refer them to. The officer will get into contact with community rehabilitation supports such as counselling, Alcoholics Anonymous and/ or anger management[4]. While the officer focuses mainly on the offender, they may also contact the family to make sure certain needs of the offender can be met, or the victims to let them know that the offender cannot contact them [4]. The information on the case is entered into a centralized offender management system. If the offender has violated any terms, for example, drinking alcohol or contacting the victim of a no-contact condition then they will make a written breach to the court to have a warrant issued to ensure they come back to court[4].

Work hours can vary depending on the work case of the officer. One probation officer started work at 8 am, checked emails, met with the boss about a future case, started a report on a women who had gotten in a fight to send to a judge for presentencing, and followed up their afternoon meeting with clients to discuss their goals for the week[5]. After various phone calls and meetings with clients, they record what happened with the clients into the computer. At 4:30 they end the day. On other days the officer will work late until 5pm or 7pm depending on their case load[5]. Probation officers may also travel to meet with clients if transportation is an issue.

[edit] Educational requirements and other qualifications

• A Bachelor’s degree from a credited University; in social work, psychology, sociology and criminology[6]

o Brock University, Carleton University, Guelph University, University of Western Ontario

• Or the above qualification as well as 5 or more years of experience in social services or a correctional organization, that involves human behavior and intervention[6]

• Possess strong verbal and written communication skills, counselling and assessment skills[6]

• Once hired: complete a basic training program including empirical research and principles of effective correctional intervention and programming.

• Ongoing training in subjects is given to help continue performance when needed[6]

Visit the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services for more information

[edit] Related skills, interests and abilities

• Active listening: a probation officer must be constantly thinking about the offender when interviewing them, thinking may include solutions to problems that the offender is experiencing or the level of risk an offender poses to community. They must actively listen for any faults in stories that may be due to lying or if any violations were committed. The officer cannot interrupt the offender and give them their full attention[1].

• Critical thinking: use critical thinking to examine what solutions would be best for an offender and how to solve their problems, if any. They must listen to the client and assess their needs and research solutions to problems[1].

• Social perceptiveness: look for social or behavioral cues that state the feeling of the offender. The interview setting must be comfortable to let the offender discuss openly their problems. If they seem uncomfortable, the officer must react to make them more comfortable. Understanding reactions can also lead to conflict prevention, for example if the client is reacting negatively they may need future counselling[1].

• Social: an officer must be able to confront a number of people on a daily basis; the confrontations may include problematic settings in which they need to be willing to resolve[1]. An officer must be social to discuss cases with clients, family members, and community programs.

[edit] Relevance of Psychology undergraduate degree

• Courses on the psychology of violent predators discuss level of risk of violent offenders. The VRAG is a statistical measurement that has an accuracy of 76% to predict if an offender will reoffend. The questionnaire is available and would be a useful resource for probation officers to monitor more high risk offenders closely.

• Knowledge of human behavior and biases help in this job. When writing reports recommending sentencing, it is important to have an understanding of personal bias that may influence your recommendations. For example, the conservative bias would have an officer rating an offender for higher risk just to be on the safe side.

• Personality classes will also help to group clients into certain personalities which may influence them for a higher or lower risk of violence. If an offender is impulsive they may need to be monitored more closely, and a Psychology graduate would be aware of this.

[edit] Salary potential

Parole officers start on average at $61,600 per year and cap at $81,600. Probation officers are paid according to the provinces that they work in. There was a 12% increase in salary from 2007-2013[2]. The average wage for a probation officer is $35/hour in Canada. Ontario averages $36.06/hour compared to New Brunswick which averages $35.16/hour. To see a complete list of all provinces wages you can visit The Job Bank

[edit] Job outlook

Job openings are expected to total 77,529 from 2013-2022 with 68,988 job seekers. Therefore the supply of these jobs will increase. 65% of this group work full time. Women represent 65% of workers[3].

[edit] To know more

Visit Onet to get a complete list of information, skills, abilities, work context and activities.Click here to go to Onet

[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 21-1092.00 - Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from
  2. 2.0 2.1 Canadian Business Staff. (2014, April 17). Canada's Best Jobs 2014: Probation & Parole Officer. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Explore Careers by Occupation - Results. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Ministry of Justice. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from
  5. 5.0 5.1 Probation Officer: A week in the life of a Probation Officer. (2013). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services :: Becoming a Probation and Parole Officer. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from
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