What Is the Role of a Probation Officer?

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A probation officer serves as a liaison between the offender, his victims and the state to ensure that the offender completes the requirements of his sentence and does not act out again. The probation officer is involved prior to sentencing, helping conduct defendant research. After sentencing, he maintains meticulous records concerning the offender's progress.

A probation officer's job begins prior to the defendant's sentencing. He investigates the criminal records, personal background and family information of the offender. Based on the knowledge obtained during the pre-sentence investigation, the probation officer offers specific recommendations to the court regarding appropriate sentencing and alternatives to imprisonment.

The probation officer continues his investigation and monitoring during the imprisonment process. He helps develop plans for the offender's release from prison.

After the court issues its sentence, the probation officer acts as an enforcer. He keeps tabs on the offender and meets with him on a frequent basis to measure his progress. This follow-up process often involves making referrals to social agencies, such as family services or drug rehabilitation clinics. If he becomes aware of any probation violations, the probation officer swiftly informs the appropriate authorities.

A probation officer also serves as a guide for the offender and his family. He provides them with information, support and community resources.