Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Difference Between Probation and Parole Officers

Because the primary goal of many criminal justice system careers is so similar, identifying the differences between certain careers can be difficult. While the primary goals of probation and parole officers are similar, how they achieve these goals couldn't be more different. If you're interested in pursuing a goal within the corrections industry, but aren't sure which educational and career pathway to embark upon, take a moment to understand the true differences between probation and parole officers.

Differences Among Probation and Parole Officers

Due to the vast amount of similarities between these two professions, many students become confused regarding which is the ideal choice. While both professionals assist criminals to integrate back into society through a combination of case management, social work, counseling and supervision, there are also several distinct differences. These critical differences are discussed below:

The primary difference between these two careers is how these professionals interact with convicted offenders. Parole officers communicate and deal with offenders who have been released from a correctional facility after completing part or all of their sentence. Probation officers supervise and monitor offenders who were sentenced to a specific probation duration rather than being incarcerated.

As a parole officer, you'll execute the actions deemed appropriate by the Parole Board. These professional-level board's interview incarcerated offenders and determine whether or not they're ready for early release. Part of the primary duties of a parole officer is to ensure released offenders stick to the conditions of their parole and assist offenders throughout the transition between independent living and institutionalization.

Probation officers play a similar role; however, the offenders they deal with have not been recently released from a prison system. Instead, the convicted offender must adhere to specific probation terms set forth by the sentencing court. Probation officers ensure these offenders meet these requirements by closely dealing with an offender's daily life.

In terms of responsibilities, each of these professionals carries a significant amount of daily duties; however, the caseload of probation officers tends to be significantly higher than parole officers. Because of the sensitive nature of newly released prisoners, parole officers typically meet with offenders on a more regular basis than probation officers. However, both professionals interact with offenders based upon the offender's likelihood of repeating a crime. For example, an offender who has a greater propensity for committing a crime (either the same or an unrelated crime) will visit his parole or probation officer more frequently than one whose entry into the criminal justice system was more of an aberration from his standard behavior than a pattern. 

For more on the differences between these professions, as well as a guide on what you can do with a criminal justice degree, click here.

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