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Parole Officer


Description

Criminals can change. Parole officers believe this. They work for the government, helping offenders reintegrate themselves into society in a healthy, productive way, while at the same time recommending further prison time for those they feel just are not ready for release.

Offenders on parole are still serving a sentence. They are only released from prison by a Parole Board, which has consulted with a parole officer who has reviewed the offender's case, investigated their background, and met with family members, friends, and other inmates. If the offender is granted parole, this parole officer must then monitor and assist them in their new lives. Generally, one-third of a sentence is served in prison, and two-thirds is served under the watchful eye of the parole officer. The officer helps with things like finding employment, a place to live, and support programs to help paroles deal with any problems. They also make sure their clients are following the parole conditions, for example, avoiding certain people, sticking to a curfew, or going to a program or workplace regularly. They may offer advice and give suggestions to parolees who are having a hard time with jobs and relationships.

Parole officers spend much of their time doing paperwork, writing recommendations and contacting other welfare and social agencies, psychiatric centers and addiction treatment centers, checking up on the offenders under their supervision. Each case is unique, each individual offender has their own issues and concerns, and parole officers will take the time to get to know each one in turn, accurately assessing their problems and planning with them appropriate paths to a better future.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$25,810
 
Median Salary:
$38,360
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$62,520

  Interests and Skills  
It's important for people working as parole officers to like people, and be able to have an unbiased attitude towards everyone they work with, from senior officers to hardened criminals. A positive outlook, a belief in the innate goodness of everyone, and a creative problem-solving ability are all assets. Parole officers must also be cautious, as well as confident in order to communicate with a variety of offenders. They must be mature, thoughtful individuals , who are sensitive to human behavior, and can assess people without being judgmental. Computer and typing skills are also important.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Interview offenders, their families, and other inmates
  • Recommend parole conditions
  • Observe offenders in daily life
  • Monitor offenders' routines, helping with job applications, living arrangements, and personal problems
  • Complete regular reports, documenting offenders' progress
  • Recommend incarceration for parolees who cannot adjust
  • Each day brings a parole officer the chance to have a significant impact on a troubled and torn individual. A parole officer's biggest task is to ensure that an offender chooses to start a new life, instead of returning to an old life. Typically, days will be spent at a desk, on the phone or out in the community. Depending on the city and the case, the working hours can be regular 40-hour weeks, with weekends and evenings off. Or, sometimes the hours can be long into the night and through the weekends.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • A parole officer will work in an office, or spent time touring the city, meeting with other social and heath care workers. Along with offices, they will find themselves in courthouses, penitentiaries, and the homes of the offenders and their families.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Once parole officers are hired, they must complete a probationary period of one year before being considered for advancement. They may move up to section supervisor, or area manager, and choose to move to an agency, as the case may be. If a parole officer wants to change jobs, there is always police work, law school, or psychology. A parole officer may choose to start a community service organization.
 

  Educational Paths  
Parole officers are required to have a university degree in sociology, criminology, psychology, or social work. Before applying to work in the field, it is a good idea to work or volunteer with any aspect of corrections and welfare, such as in group homes, women's shelters, prisons, support groups, and mental hospitals. Senior parole officers will often hire people with experience, because it means the worker has a good idea of the systems the offenders have been in already, and it will give them ideas about the services out there the offenders can access.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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