Probation Officer Impact On Involuntary Clients Essays Examples
Under the correction system, the probation officer plays a significant role in the administration of justice among the offenders. Most of the time, the probation officers deal with offenders on parole and their responsibility may extend beyond the scope of justice administration where they also exercise contributory roles in helping motivate offenders to reform in order to become useful members of the society. This paper aims to provide the different perspectives where the parole officer participates in motivating offenders to change while under their supervision. The greatest challenge among the probation officers is how to deal with involuntary clients, such as incarcerated prisoners under a probation sentence. The author will discuss the various ways by which a probation officer may become effective in causing change and reform among the offenders with some emphasis on the Saint Leo core value of respect that may be integrated by the probation officer’s approach in effecting these changes among the offenders.
The role of supervision by the probation officer begins when the offender is sentenced by the court to probation. This marks the time when a relationship between the offender and the probation officer is established. The primary role of the officer is to ensure the diligent compliance of the offender to all the conditions imposed by the court in exchange of his probation privilege. When an offender is under probation, he enjoys some freedom by virtue of a court order subject to the direct control and supervision by the assigned probation officer in exchange of his imprisonment in jail. The probation process suspends or delays the correctional term in prison and in lieu thereof, the offender is placed under the community supervision of a probation officer and sanctioned to follow the probation terms and conditions (Siegel and Worrall, 2014). One of the greatest challenges of a probation officer is how to deal with the offenders under their supervision for probation. These offenders are considered to be involuntary clients who are forced and required by law to report to their probation officers until discharged by the court from their suspended sentence. The majority of the offenders usually comply with the probation terms because they have to, otherwise they will be reinstated in prison to serve their sentence. Under this condition, the probation officer takes the role of dealing with the offenders with a positive measure of helping effect some change in them to become useful members of the society. According to Clear, Reisig and Cole (2013), it is the probation officer’s responsibility to define some probation goals in helping the offender comply with their probation terms, as well as to introduce behavioral reforms to them. Thus, probation officers have significant impact in bringing change to the offenders. Not only do they have the power to recommend the discharge of the offenders from prison based on their response to community supervision, but they can also introduce proactive measures to encourage positive behaviors among the offenders.
Walters, Clark, Gingerich and Meltzer (2007) emphasize that compliance is considered to be the marker for change; however, the major goal of supervision goes beyond making the offenders do what they are told to do. In the criminal justice setting, motivation is becoming a popular form of effecting change. Instead of approaching compliance through coercion, offenders may be motivated to voluntarily observe good conduct and behavior not because they are forced to. The primary mission of probation is not to incarcerate offenders but to rehabilitate them instead. Probation officers now take the major responsibility on how to implement an effective rehabilitation process among the offenders and in looking for measures that will introduce motivation as a driver for change. When done successfully, the probation officer can make a significant impact in effecting change to the offender, making them more useful members of the community.
There are measures that probation officers can practice in order to become an effective influencer to the offender under his supervision. One of this is showing respect to the offender as a unique individual. Literature studies provide that probation officers who show little respect to the offenders who are under their supervision are usually able to impose compliance only through force or by adversarial approach in imposing their authority (Roberts and Springer, 2007). Under this circumstance, the officer finds that the tough approach is the more effective option to bring change from the offender. However, the tough approach does not effectively help the officer attain its goal of bringing change. The approach of showing respect to the individual is a more effective way of bringing change because you are recognizing the uniqueness and individuality of every person. Just like the Saint Leo core value on respect, one should accord due respect to the person’s dignity and to help strengthen their commitment in fostering the value of change to make them useful individuals. It is crucial for probation officers to recognize diversity in their environment and to see every individual as having unique needs when determining how to encourage them to observe positive behaviors. Enforcing an adversarial approach will not work as it can even foster more resistance among the offenders. Showing great concern to the offender is a more proper way of helping them change. By allowing the offender to share his feelings and difficulties in coping with situation, probation officers are more likely to understand the needs of the offender. The showing of empathy is described by Totter (2006) as a counseling technique by responding to the feelings of others. This is primary step towards creating a trusting and harmonious relationship between the probation officer and the offender. The empathic role of the probation officer shows respect to the person’s dignity while recognizing the areas where the offender needs help the most in effecting change.
The core values of respect of Saint Leo is one imbued of fostering unity and harmonious relationship among people even in the midst of diversity. Making the offender feel that they are respected beings, they are likely to respond more favorably to the supervision of their probation officer. It builds their interest on how to attain the goal of their rehabilitation and to discover their ability to change with more sincere commitment to attain better outcomes. With the free exchange of ideas, the probation officer provides the offender an opportunity to feel useful and important and he is more likely to become committed in cooperating with his probation officer to meet the requirements of his probation term. By fostering the culture of respect, the offenders are able to retain their sense of integrity and are more likely to respond positively on their rehabilitation program because they feel the sense of self worth and inspiration of making a difference in their life. Understanding that good behavior and observing good moral values are the keys in redeeming their self integrity the offenders will likely strive to improve themselves by showing cooperative behaviors with their probation officers who show high respect of them. With a mutually cooperative relationship and respect for each other, it is easier for the probation officer to encourage offenders to observe self recovery and change for a better life and future.
Clear, T., Reisig, M. and Cole, G. (2013). American Corrections. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Roberts, A.R. and Springer, D.W. (2007). Social Work in Juvenile and Criminal Justice Settings. Springfield, Illinois: Charles Thomas Publishing.
Siegel, L. and Worrall, J. (2014). Introduction to Criminal Justice. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Trotter, C. (2006). Working with involuntary clients: A guide to practice. 2nd Ed. Los Angeles, CA: Corwin Press.
Walters, S.T., Clark, M.D., Gingerich, R. and Meltzer, M.L. (2007). A Guide in Probation and Parole. Motivating Offenders to Change. Washington: National Institute of Corrections.
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