Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Parole Officers Help Rehabilitate Criminals

Parole officers work with criminals who are released from prison before their sentenced release date. They help to rehabilitate them by easing their adjustment back into society so that they can function within a community. The officers do this by developing a plan for them before they are actually released, consisting of housing, education, employment, health care, and drug screenings. They also help criminals to avoid conduct that could pose any risk to their parole status and monitor their behavior through meetings and drug tests. These officers regularly attend parole hearings so that they can make suggestions based on their interaction and surveillance of their offenders they oversee.

At the very least a parole officer on the state and federal level must earn a bachelor’s degree. Given the nature of the work that a parole officer does, a degree in criminal justice is greatly beneficial, as well as a degree in related fields such as social work, psychology, or sociology. Some states may even require that parole officers have a year of related working experience or graduate study. It is also not uncommon for those wanting to work as a parole officer to be required to complete a training program first. These programs are sponsored by the State or Federal Government and last for about six months. They might also be required to take certification exams and pass oral, written, physical and psychological exams. Those who successfully complete these programs and other requirements can then apply for a permanent position as a parole officer.

Often, parole officers are employed by different counties, the state department of corrections, juvenile corrections, state criminal justice department, or a federal justice department. Regularly meeting with offenders requires officers to conduct a lot of fieldwork and travel extensively. They also experience a fairly heavy work load, typically having about 70 to 130 active cases at a time. In their routine duties, parole officers take a lot of risks and work in dangerous environments with convicts, their friends and family. These people can be unpredictable and may become upset, angry, or aggressive, when asked for specific information. Officers must always be aware of their surroundings and may be required to carry a gun in order to protect themselves. Even though it can be stressful, the work of a parole officer can also be very rewarding, as they gain personal satisfaction from helping offenders learn how to live better lives and become productive members of society.