Common Perceptions About Probation Officers: True or False?
Interviewer: It seems like the common person looks on probation officers as “wanna be” police officers, or arbitrarily mean people that just want to get you violated and turned back into jail. Do you think that perception is true about any probation officers?
Adam: Unfortunately, that is still true about some officers. The Ohio Department of Corrections, which is responsible for the prisons, and is also responsible for probation in the state of Ohio, are trying really hard to keep people out of prison by offering them as much chance as they can before they get there.
Ohio Probation Officers Are Trained to Offer Alternative Programs to Keep People Out of the Prison System
Probation officers now in Ohio are more inclined to offer as much help as possible because we have to go through every possible avenue before we can incarcerate someone.
Twenty years ago, yes. If you failed a drug test, you’re going to jail and that’s it. No argument. That’s how it is. We can’t really do that anymore. We want to try to keep people out of the system.
There Are Many Options Available to Help People Become Repeat Offenders
If they’re caught with a drug charge, and they keep coming back because they keep using drugs and they never get any help and they don’t know what to do, their life becomes one vicious cycle because they’re going to keep coming back.
Ohio’s Probation Officers Will Research What Programs Best Suit People with Drug, Alcohol or Unemployment Issues
The idea now for the probation officer is figure out how someone became embroiled in the situation in the first place. If you have a drug problem, then what is it we need to do to get you off drugs? Where do we need to send you?
If you have a theft offense and you’re stealing because you’re not working, why aren’t you working? What kind of program can we put you in so you can get some better skills? Do you need help writing your resume? What do you need to gain to not be in this situation? The state is requiring us to offer as much assistance as we can.
We’ll still incarcerate if necessary. If the defendant is not willing to participate, they’re not willing to take our advice, go to the programs, then, they’re going to be incarcerated.
We’ll enforce the order because that’s what we’re supposed to do, but if they’re even slightly open to the idea of, “Yes. I don’t want to be here again,” we’ll help them out if we can.
By Adam Hunt