There are unique career opportunities available to those who know how to become a parole officer. The job seeks to focus in the rehabilitation of the offender more than continued punishment. Persons released from prison custody have unique needs different from those who are still incarcerated. The role of a parole officer is critical as released offenders try to find their way back to the community.
What is a Parole Officer?
A parole officer is charged with the responsibility of supervising offenders released from prison after favorable review and consideration of designated authority which may be the warden, the parole board or other individuals or entity given the power. His function is different from that of a probation officer who is tasked to investigate and supervise defendants who have not yet been sentenced. Parolees or the released prisoners are expected to serve the remainder of their sentence in the community.
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The development and implementation of rehabilitation plans for parolees fall on the hands of the parole officer. A parole officer is assigned to released offenders for proper supervision. He is required to manage case folders for each. Typical duties include writing progress reports and facilitating arrangements for specific counseling needs such as in anger management, mental health, or substance abuse. The job would sometimes necessitate such tasks as collecting urine samples to ensure that supervised offenders are free from illegal drugs or alcohol. It is also the responsibility of a parole officer to make the conditions of the release understandable to the offenders so they can act accordingly. Meeting with family members of offenders may also be necessary to better understand how the released offenders can be truly assisted in gaining a new-life.
Education and Training
Aspiring parole officers must possess a bachelor’s degree preferably in criminal justice, corrections, social work, counseling, psychology, sociology, business administration, and other related degrees. There are specific facilities which require parole officers to have a master’s degree or sufficient related work experience.
Parole officers’ training is a requirement by most states which are taken either before starting work or during the first year while already employed. These programs usually run for 4 to 6 weeks. Parole officers are usually paid while taking the training.
Becoming a Parole Officer
A career as a parole officer should start with a clear understanding of the nature of the job because of its unique demands on those who choose to be in it. After obtaining the required academic and experiential foundation, graduates can apply for the position but must be ready to pass a comprehensive background check. Those who are deemed qualified are required to pass the Parole Officer Exam. Test passers must complete the Parole Officer Program as mentioned above.
Becoming an effective parole officer is not merely about passing tests, completing programs, and obtaining degrees. The job will require physical and mental preparedness so that the difficult task of assisting parolees to once again become functional members of society can be done. People in this job should have genuine concern and interest for the betterment of lives that have been destroyed by criminal acts. There are unlimited chances of becoming a positive influence on others when one knows how to become a parole officer.