The first Juvenile Court Statistic report was published in the year 1929 (1927 data was used). Since that time probation became an overwhelming choice of family and juvenile court judges. During the past years, the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) published reports which parts contain the description of the profession of probation. The official obligations of the juvenile probation professionals are various. Duties in one state are different from the duties in another one and even from one jurisdiction to another within a state. Nevertheless, let us try to mention the basic functions of juvenile probation:
To in – take the screening of those cases which refer to family court and juvenile;
To present or predispose investigation of juveniles;
To supervise according to the court – order the juvenile offenders.
Nevertheless, not every of the probation departments execute every function independently. For example, the prosecutor in some jurisdictions shares the responsibility of in-take process with the probation officer; the prosecutor of other jurisdiction has sole in – take responsibility. Thus, according to Maloney, Romig, & Armstrong (1988), there are no severe limitations for the probation responsibilities for investigation, in – take, and supervision. Some departments suggest after – care for juveniles who were released from an institution, while other departments could manage local residential facilities or administer detention or different special programs as well.
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Talking about the juvenile probation we need to understand clearly what is it and what goals it supposes to achieve. Juvenile probation is the most widely used and the oldest mean that is helping render a range of court – ordered services. Probation could be used at the front end of the juvenile justice system for low – risk offenders, first – time offenders; also it could be used at the back end like an alternative mean for more serious offenders instead institutional confinement. Sometimes the probation could be voluntary. In this case young people should agree to accomplish the period of non – formal probation instead of formal adjudication. Often, the juvenile that was once adjudicated and ordered formally to a term of the probation should submit to the conditions of the probation which were established by the court.
Shortly, we can give “probation” the following definition: it is a supervision program that was created by law; this program is ordered by the court if a case involves a youth that were found guilty in committing a delinquent act. Moreover, according to Torbet (1996), it is a legal status that is limiting the freedom of the young people’s activity and restricted instead of commitment to the Department of juvenile Justice Custody.
When a young person is placed on probation the person should have the court – ordered services and sanctions complete. The young people should accomplish all special conditions considered appropriate by the court and with those mandatory sanctions that are related to the offence, in addition to the common conditions of probation. Umbreit (1989) added that, for instance, a young person could be ordered to work community service hours; also a person could pay money to the victim according to the order (in case if the victim was suffered losses or was harmed as an effect of the crime). The young offenders also could be ordered to attend counseling and to submit to an evaluation. In some cases if the offence warrants, the offender should submit a biological specimen for the testing DNA.
The young people could be ordered to attend a probation day treatment program or to be ordered to abide by the curfew as a special condition of the juvenile probation. There are some day treatment programs which provide some spare additional monitoring of the youth and also offer typically alternative educational settings. The additional services like anger management classes, substance abuse education and social skills building could be provided.
We can see that first of all the juvenile probation program requires the young people to put their efforts on trying to correct themselves. However, we need to remember that we are talking here about very young people. Schaffner, Shick & Stein (1997) declared that they are not completely adults yet and they depend on their parent in many ways (for example, psychologically) whether they want to accept it or not. That is why we do not need to forget about the responsibility of parents. Juvenile probation officers expect that adults who are close to the young offenders (like guardian assistances and parents) would assist and encourage the young people to submit the sanctions of Probation.
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According to statistical data presented by Bilchik (1996), “The 1.5 million delinquency cases handled by juvenile courts in 1993 represented a 23-percent increase from 1989. Similarly, the number of juvenile cases placed on probation (either formally or informally) increased 21 percent, from 428,500 in 1989 to 520,600 in 1993. The growth in probation caseloads was directly related to the general growth in referrals to juvenile courts. The likelihood of a probation disposition did not change, because judges did not increase the rate at which they used probation as a disposition. During this same period, the number of adjudicated cases placed on formal probation increased 17 percent, from 216,900 to 254,800, and the number of cases involving a person offense (homicide, rape, robbery, assault, kidnapping, etc.) resulting in formal probation increased 45 percent.”
What if the probation is violated by the youth? A young person that is placed on probation is assigned a Juvenile Probation Officer. The Officer monitors compliance with the services and sanctions that are ordered by the court. According to Brookins & Hirsch (2002), the order of the court determines that parents or guardian of the young person are obliged to report every case of violation of the order by the child to the court and to the Juvenile Probation Officer. Thus, the guardian or the parents of the offender and the Juvenile Probation Officer should work together to make the court order enforced.
If the young offender fails to complete the sanctions that are imposed by the court or violates the conditions of the probation, a Violation of Probation is going to be filed. If the court found out the case of the violation it could impose the sentence like for example placement in the Department of Juvenile Justice residential facility or it could revoke probation.
What do we know about the process of the commitment and release? After releasing the person from the commitment program, he or she could stay under the supervision of the Conditional Release or the Post Commitment Probation. These two types of the supervision have the following requirement to the young people: they suppose to adhere to the special conditions, which are similar to the condition of the probation. The court does not get involved in to the Conditional Release supervision if the violations occur. Corriero (2006) stated that in this sense the Conditional Release supervision is administrative and all cases of violation should be handled with the help of an administrative hearing that is facilitated by the department workers. Violations of probation and violations of the Post Commitment should be handled in the same way. This two types of violations can effect in re – commitment to some higher restrictiveness residential program.
Concluding the information we have discussed in this paper we should to mark that the juvenile probation system was based for to help youth to overcome the effects of an offence and to correct their further life. Juvenile probation officers are ready to do keep doing their work in no depends of danger. We need to appreciate their trying in making the society better and to help young people continue their lives in the right direction. Also it is important to mention one more time that the help and the positive influence of guardians and parents is required. The Juvenile Probation program would not be so successful if parent and other adults close to the offenders do not want to put efforts on helping them. Summarizing the conditions of the success the Juvenile Probation’s success, we can mention that efforts of both young offenders and adults around them are required.
Sometimes it is hard to believe that this or another young person is able to become a good citizen and even parent can lose the hope in their children. However, juvenile probation officers believe that they can do something for those youth. It means that the society also should believe in better and help the officers in their uneasy job and pay attention to the positive results of it.
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