Criminal justice and its responsibility to offenders, citizens and society as a whole does not cease once an offender has been punished, either by a fine, probation or jail time. Society has a duty to itself to make sure the chances of reoffending are reduced to a minimum, or the rehabilitation side of the justice process is failing those who need it most. There are many roles that help in this process, but in this article we will be looking at the role of a probation worker, traits needed to become one and the highs and lows of the job.
In short, a probation officer helps past offenders reintegrate with society. They are there to both offer help, guidance, and to make sure the rules of an offender’s probation are being followed. This can be as challenging as it is rewarding. The people you will be supervising will vary massively in personality, history and behaviour. This means that probation workers have to be quick thinking, and have good judgement of how to deal with specific situations as they arise. The true reward of this job comes from knowing you have helped be part of a process that has allowed an offender to truly leave what they have done in the past, in the past.
This transformation of character cannot be guaranteed, and there is always a chance of reoffending to occur while under probation. When this occurs, it can be demoralising as a probation officer. Thus, a strong mentality is needed, nothing can come from blaming yourself for someone you are helping to reoffend. Of course, if you have made mistakes it is important to come clean about them, and more importantly to learn from them so they do not occur again.
In many ways, probation workers offer a strange halfway house between being an official while also being a friend. In the sense that it is your duty to make sure specific rules are being followed, while at the same time offering the necessary support needed through this process of rehabilitation that started in prison. If this tightrope can be walked correctly, then there is a chance this process for both you and the offender will be a positive one. You will be bringing about a much needed change in lifestyle, communication and respect to those that may not have had that sort of guidance ever before in their life.