There is direct and indirect involvement of a number of stakeholders for the purpose of furthering the objectives of the criminal justice system. One such stakeholder is a probation officer whose part concerns the supervision of offenders released from imprisonment or sentenced to various kinds of noncustodial sanctions such as community service, etc.
In a number of jurisdictions, probation officer—also known as parole officers—are engaged in the presentation of reports on the post-release activities and behavior of offenders and conveying sentencing suggestions to courts. Thus, their role is fundamental to the discharge of the goals of the criminal justice system in any civilized country.
Probation officers have important functions to perform, and therefore, their jobs have much-needed stability and financial abundance—something which most of us want in our lives. In order to become one of them, you will have to go through a lot of requirements, even in the freelance community, where convenience and balance of power are most coveted essentials.
Now, if you are wondering what those requirements are, then you do not have to worry since, in this article, we are going to discuss the four principle requirements to become a freelance probation officer.
1. Job requirements to become a freelance probation officer
The job requirements will definitely vary with jurisdiction in question. In fact, apart from the job requirements, the functions performed may significantly differ, but that is not the subject-matter of discussion.
- The general requirement remains the same in nearly all the jurisdictions. Generally, probation officers must have a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree in the fields of criminal justice, behavioral science, social work, and psychology. Although a Bachelor’s degree suffices, employers look forward to hiring individuals with a Master’s since advanced study indicates a thorough understanding of the nitty-gritty of criminal justice system.
- In a number of countries such as India, probation officers need to go through certain entrance examinations. So, if you belong to any of such countries, you will have to undertake thorough research on the topic.
- More formal education will not help unless there is practical knowledge—theoretical knowledge will hardly be of any utility if you are unable to put it to actual use. It is, for this purpose, you are recommended to join internship or training programs upon the completion of degree courses. You can arrange an internship under probation officers and understand the fundamentals involved from the grassroots level.
- While an internship is preferred, you will, nevertheless, go through state-sponsored training programs upon qualifying entrance examinations. Training commences with classroom instructions on a variety of basic issues such as State codes, court probation procedures, and whatnot, followed by series of training schedules, and ends with a certification test.
Once you pass the test, you have finally become a probation officer. You may be forthwith appointed as a probation officer or be required to continue with education for a while.
- To enhance one’s skills and knowledge even more, you can become member of regional or national associations of parole officers, for example, in the US, there is the American Parole and Probation Association (APPA) which provides a host of benefits such as greater work opportunities, additional training, career development programmes, etc.
- Now you have become a full-fledged probation officer, and it is time to draft a concise and informative portfolio of skills or resume, which will be a ticket to the freelance community. Pay proper attention to the drafting, as in, only add relevant skills; in fact, tailor the portfolio according to the requirements of the place you wish to apply to.
2. Skills needed to become a freelance probation officer
- Communication skills: A probation officer is required to possess exemplary communication skills, particularly in respect of listening. He must understand and respect court orders relating to monitoring the activities of offenders.
He should also listen to the offender, his family, employers, and others significantly involved in his life to record his behavioral patterns. In courts, the probation officer must be able to clearly state his recommendations regarding the future treatment of the offender.
- Relationship orientation: There is a stereotypical perception of probation officers as distasteful, arrogant and impudent beings with whom one cannot establish a social bond, especially from the perspective of an offender. This highlights the importance of socializing and building relationships.
As a probation officer, you must keep aside your biases and endeavor to establish a harmonious relationship with offenders, their families, local service agencies and other systems involved to ensure that the offender assimilates in the society as a just and civilized human being. He should not scare the offender every now and then, but try to give a hope of change.
- Encouragement: While it is your job to monitor the activities of offenders, there is an ethical duty to try diverting the offender from the path of crime. Often offenders released on parole feel disappointed in themselves and are afraid to get back as part of the society. What he needs are encouragement and hope, and you are in a position to give them both. Give him goals!
- Critical thinker: At times, probation officers have to make quick logical decisions by assessing the situation such as whether the offender is pretending to be genuinely interested in complying with the terms of parole, etc—that is where your critical thinking will come into the picture.
3. Work opportunities for a probation officer
Parole officers are government officers and closely function with the police, courts and correctional facilities. While the number of work settings is limited, the opportunities are, nevertheless, big since parole is frequently granted for rehabilitation and correctional purposes.
In order to keep a tab on the job availability, you can take the assistance of a number of freelance websites such as freelance.com, worknhire.com, letsintern.com, and linkedin.com. These websites have been created to provide access to job availability on-the-go and without much time consumption. All you need to do is to create a profile account and submission of application. While submitting applications, pay attention to the drafting of the proposal that states the reasons why you are suitable for the job applied.
4. Pay scale of the freelance probation officer
The pay scale of the probation officer depends upon a number of factors such as educational qualifications and experience of the probation officer, the department allotted etc. You can stipulate an hourly or monthly basis of pay, but you must keep in mind the factors aforesaid.
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