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Probation Officer: Making a Difference in the Lives of Others

Online DegreesAugust 15, 2015

Making a real difference in the lives of others is what everyone strives for when contemplating their choice of career. By pursuing a professional career in the criminal justice system, in a role as a probation officer, you can be assured that you will play a huge role in making a difference while implementing public safety and the rule of law. What is the function of the job, and how does human interaction and communication play a role? A probation officer will be asked by the court to tackle a wide range of different tasks. 

The primary role is to supervise offenders and monitor their activities and behaviors. He or she will also be asked to look at the history of the offender prior to sentencing. During a time that will undoubtedly be stressful for the offender, sensitivity is required on the part of the officer. A professional relationship must be developed with the offender and all necessary information must be gained to satisfy the courts. While academic requirements will cover the background of the criminal justice system and the intricacies of the various relevant agencies, the personal attributes need to be present, as well. Officers will be working with a very diverse population that consists of individuals of various nationalities and cultures. A great probation officer must be a strong listener with good verbal and written communication skills. It is important to listen to what the offender is saying and get feedback from relevant people. This includes speaking with the offender's family, employer and his or her community, before presenting back to the court system. Attention to detail, both verbally and in writing, will be essential as the activities of the offenders will have to be monitored to ensure that they are complying with the exact orders from the court. From time to time, judges ask probation officers to make recommendations on whether or not the probation sentencing should be more lenient or strict. The officer will need to have a strong understanding of the facts in the case to make clear suggestions. A good probation officer can make a huge difference in the life and the outlook of an offender. 

Motivational skills, openness and a nonjudgmental attitude will help to encourage the offender to move away from a life of crime. When working in the criminal justice system, dangerous situations can often occur, and the officer will need to remain calm and authoritative in diffusing any potential danger signs or incidents. Confidence is key in handling these occurrences. A probation officer needs to work with the fullest integrity and responsibility at all times and be completely above reproach. It is a challenging role, but with good communication skills and interactions with clients and the courts, it can be an extremely rewarding career choice, one in which you can have a profound effect on the lives of others. 

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