Career Choice

PROBATION OFFICER

Kareem LaTouche, Youthlink Coordinator

WHO IS A PROBATION OFFICER?

A probation officer provides social services to assist in the rehabilitation of law offenders who may be in custody, on probation or on parole. Such work may be with offenders who are not given a jail sentence but who are put on probation instead, and with offenders who are in prison or who have been released from prison. They monitor offenders to prevent them from committing new crimes, and also ensure that they carry out anything the court assigns to them.

WHAT DOES THE WORK INVOLVE?

A typical day for a probation officer may include:
• Evaluating offenders to determine the best course of action.
• Writing reports on the progress of the offenders.
• Meeting court deadlines.
• Investigating an offender’s personal and criminal history for the court.
• Supervising probationers and also interacting with their friends and family members.
• Performing assigned fieldwork in highcrime areas.
• Performing home and employment checks while supervising probationers. As a probation worker, you will be able to choose either to work with adults or juveniles. Working hours could be long, as you may have to deal with several cases simultaneously, and travelling will also be a necessity. This is not simply an office or desk job.

This line of work comes with a high level of stress, making the job difficult at times, but it can also be very rewarding. It is a job where, at the end of the week, it is as hectic as it will always be. But what most probation workers will tell you is that at the end of each week, you always achieve something and had an impact on someone’s life, or made a meaningful contribution in some way to positively changing someone else’s life.

WHO IS THIS CAREER FOR?

Make no mistake, this job could be emotionally draining, with many different heart-rending situations to be dealt with. Having a calm demeanour will work best in your favour. A great desire to help to solve people and societal problems is also good.

Probation officers are required to have the ability to work with people from all backgrounds, and have excellent oral and written communication skills for verbal and written reporting.

WHAT CAN I EARN?

You can earn a medium-level salary.

HOW DO I QUALIFY?

You will need to have a bachelor’s degree in social work, criminal justice, behavioral science or any related field. You may also be required to pass an entrance examination and complete a training programme, in addition to passing a drug test and a criminal background check.

WHO OFFERS TRAINING IN JAMAICA?

• The University of the West Indies
• Northern Caribbean University

The Department of Correctional Services website – http://www.dcs.gov.jm – can provide more information. The department falls under the Ministry of National Security.

• Information provided by CHOICES Career & Education Advice. For more information, advice or guidance, email Angela deFreitas, general manager of CHOICES Career & Education Advice at info@choicesonlinejm.com.

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