For immediate release: July 18, 2011
For further information contact:
Winnie Comfort or Tammy Kendig
Judiciary Celebrates Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week
The New Jersey Judiciary is hailing its 1,800 probation professionals for their work in carrying out the work of the courts, today announced Kevin M. Brown, assistant director of probation services. Brown made the announcement during National Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week, which is July 17-23.
“Our probation officers fill a number of critical roles in the Judiciary,” said Brown. “From supervising offenders to mentoring juveniles to making recommendations on sentencing and other court outcomes, probation officers are working hard to serve their clients and the community.”
The Judiciary relies on probation officers to supervise adult and juvenile offenders. The officers ensure that offenders meet court-ordered obligations such as finding or keeping a job, doing community service, paying fines and restitution, attending school and substance abuse treatment programs, and adhering to curfews.
A unique group of probation officers with training in psychology and counseling oversees a specialized caseload of probation clients with mental health issues. With smaller caseloads and expertise in mental health issues, the officers provide additional assistance to those whose mental health issues might prevent them from complying with court orders.
Probation officers oversee the rehabilitation of non-violent drug offenders in New Jersey’s drug court program. The program has won national recognition for saving money on incarceration while helping drug- or alcohol-addicted drug offenders regain sobriety and self-sufficiency.
The criminal courts rely on probation officers to conduct detailed investigations and produce comprehensive sentencing reports that help judges decide on appropriate sentences. In the family courts, probation officers research domestic violence cases and perform risk assessments of alleged batterers. They also conduct investigations in child custody disputes and develop and implement rehabilitation plans for juvenile offenders.
Probation services also collects $1.3 billion annually in court-ordered child support payments, helping families get the support they deserve. In addition, $33.7 million in restitution, fines, fees and penalties were collected through the efforts of probation officers and 1.4 million community service hours were enforced by probation having an estimated $10 million dollar value in services back to the communities.
Probation officers maintain close ties to their clients and to the community, helping clients obtain job training, counseling, addiction treatment and mental health treatment. They often work weekends and after business hours to follow up with clients and make sure they are obeying court orders. To their clients, they offer discipline, guidance, expertise and compassion. To the community, they offer the assurance that the courts orders are enforced fairly and conscientiously to maintain the rule of law.
Probation officers undergo extensive training by a core group of experienced probation officer trainers, whose work ensures that all probation officers have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide the highest level of service to the people of New Jersey. Probation officer trainers have trained 1,633 staff in field safety techniques. With the assistance of state and national experts, probation provided its officers with more than 1000 hours of specialized training in areas such as domestic violence, gang awareness, mental health issues, sex offender supervision and caseload management.
Community partnerships are a key component of the success of probation services. Recent achievements include a formalized process for sharing information with law enforcement agencies, as well as a statewide policy on probation housing safety for probationers in transitional housing and group homes. Partnerships such as those developed with law enforcement and housing providers enhance community safety while respecting the rights of people under supervision.
Those achievements are possible because of the hard work and dedication of the individual officers. “Not everyone can be a probation officer,” Brown said. “Probation officers wear many hats and face many challenges every time they come to work, but it can be a very rewarding career for those who want to make a difference in the lives of others. During Probation Week 2011, we salute those who choose to serve their communities as probation officers.”