If you are looking for a fulfilling career and would like to help others, consider becoming a parole officer. They play an important role in the law enforcement community.
What is a Parole Officer’s Job Description?
A parole officer should not be confused with a probation officer. Probation officers work with those who received probation instead of a jail sentence or prison term. Parole officers on the other hand are responsible for monitoring and supervising criminals who were released from their sentence early for various reasons such as good behavior or overcrowding.
It is not always easy for an offender to re-enter society, and the parole officer can help make their transition successful. After release, the officer will help him or her enroll in educational classes (G.E.D. or college level) or a job training program. They also help find employment, and at times, they also make arrangements for housing. If mental health counseling, drug rehabilitation, Alcoholics Anonymous, or anger management is necessary, the officer can make the necessary arrangements. Depending the conditions of release, random urine samples may be collected to test the offender for drugs.
Release conditions also dictate how often officers meet with a parolee (and sometimes their family). It is either weekly or bimonthly, and the meetings help the officer determine if the offender is following the guidelines.
Parole officers are also responsible for attending parole hearings. At this time, they give recommendations on what the future may hold for the offender based on observations they make on the job and from interviews with family members and their boss if they have employment. If a parolee gets into trouble by committing the crime that caused them to serve time, or they commit a new offense, the parole officer will request a hearing. The meeting could result in parole being revoked, and the offender would return to jail or prison.
Other daily duties include:
- Completing investigations with help from other criminal justice agencies
- Monitoring inmates for good behavior
- Making files on each inmate they feel are eligible for parole
- Testifying in court on behalf of the offender
- Making unannounced visits to the parolee’s home or place of employment
- Reporting progress to the court
Parole officers must be able to multi-task because they are responsible for many offenders at once. Depending on the place of employment, the number can be around one hundred. They must keep reports on all of them and file the reports in a responsible place.
How to Become a Parole Officer
To work as a parole officer, you need a bachelor’s degree in corrections, criminal justice, psychology, social work, or a related major. If you want to work at the federal level, a master’s degree is required in one of these fields of study. Two year’s experience working in a training correctional institute is also required.
Places of Employment
Typically parole officers work in prisons, but there are several other employment opportunities available. They include:
- Government offices
- Juvenile detention centers
- Non-profit organization
Depending on the state in which you work or your employer, you may have to complete additional training before your first day on the job. This can include a parole officer training program or a police academy. These programs usually offer courses such as arrest techniques, basic law enforcement, case planning, and parolee motivational techniques.
You can expect to earn your starting salary to be around $33,660. After several years on the job, your salary could reach $48,000. But like any career, location will play a big role in how much you earn.