As a parole officer, one has many parole officer duties throughout the day, supervising a list of clients and working with many parties to help their parolee. If you are considering a career as a parole officer, here is what a typical day might look like.
A Day in the Life of a Parole Officer
In general, parole officers work with a criminal offender who has been released on parole, after serving time in prison. This release is conditional, based on terms set by the parole review board and court. If the parolee breaks any of the conditions for his or her parole–such as participating in criminal activity or breaking curfews–he or she can be sent back to prison. The parole officer, therefore, helps his or her parolee stay within the bounds of the agreements so that the parolee can stay out of prison.
Daily, a parole officer could be found meeting his parolee at their home or workplace, checking to make sure they are maintaining good behaviors and practices. The parole officer would help the person find employment, attend substance abuse meetings, make sure they are seeing a therapist, and more. The parole officer might also attend parole hearings, and can administer drug or alcohol tests, which is usually done if the offender has certain conditions set in their parole about maintaining a substance-free lifestyle. In addition, the parole officer might work with community organizations, religious organizations, and friends and family of the parolee, in order to make sure the parolee was getting the support needed to stay clean or out of any local criminal activity. Parole officers will fill out evaluations and other paperwork of their parolees, which are used during proceedings involving the parole board. Overall, parole officers are there to help offenders stay on track and out of prison, but their evaluation and supervision can also send parolees back to prison if they do something wrong.
The order of these duties would vary day to day, depending on scheduled meetings or events that need first priority. Sometimes, the officer might do these duties, such as attend hearings, multiple times during the day, if his cases coincide with many hearings. The work involves a considerable amount of travel, going from the court house to a prison, to a home, or to a meeting. Therefore, the officer has a pretty active and full day, with little time spent in an office (unless he or she is meeting a parolee there).
When a parole officer first starts off, they would work and train under the supervision of a current parole officer for a year or more, before they handle cases independently. Under supervision, the new parole officer will see this work in-action, and learn how to handle various situations.
In a week’s time, a parole officer would typically work 40 hours average, with the need to be available to work overtime, especially when cases change or something happens with a parolee. An officer can expect their workload to be heavy, as they might deal with as many as 100 cases at a given time. In addition, the officer is expected to be prepared for any type of situation, as working with parolees can become dangerous work, especially if the parolee returns to criminal activity.
Becoming a parole officer can be very rewarding work, especially as you earn experience over time. It involves a fast-paced work environment, with the parole officer needing to be prepared for changing circumstances at any given moment. To learn more about starting your career as a parole officer, contact us, and continue to read our criminal justice resources.