The Job Description of Parole Officers

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Parole officers supervise offenders who have been released from prison. Individuals on parole must abide by certain regulations and restrictions, and it is a parole officer's job to ensure that they stay out of trouble. Most parole officers work at the state or local level, though some are employed by federal courts. There tends to be greater job opportunities for parole officers in urban areas, where the crime and incarceration rates are higher.

Duties

  • Parole officers visit offenders in their homes to verify that they are obeying the terms of their parole. They may meet with members of offenders' families as well. In some cases, parole officers utilize technology, such as GPS monitoring bracelets, to track offenders without having to visit them in person. If a parolee violates the terms of their parole, the parole officer may recommend that he be returned to prison. Parole officers may also help parolees find job training or substance abuse programs, and assist offenders in securing welfare or other government benefits. In addition, parole officers are sometimes responsible for overseeing halfway houses where several parolees live. Some may also work inside prisons and draft reports for parole boards regarding how an individual would react to being released.

Requirements

  • Most agencies require parole officers to be at least 21 years of age and possess a valid driver's license. Many parole officers also have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology or a related field. Some positions may require a master's degree if the candidate does not have previous work experience in the field. Relevant professional experience may include previous parole, corrections, social or counseling work. Most agencies require parole officers to complete a federal or state training program, and may require successful completion of a certification exam as well. Candidates for parole officer positions may also be asked to take both physical and psychological exams. Individuals who have felony convictions are usually not eligible to be parole officers.

Environment

  • Parole officers usually work in offices, but the job requires a significant amount of travel because they must visit parolees' homes. Parole officers generally work standard 40-hour weeks, but they may be on call 24 hours a day should parolees need assistance or violate the terms of parole. It can be a stressful job because parolees and their families are not always cooperative, and conflict may arise. Some parole officers may carry weapons to protect themselves.

Salary

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual wages for parole officers and other correctional treatment specialists were $45,910 as of May 2008. The highest 10 percent were paid more than $78,210, while the lowest 10 percent were paid less than $29,490. The middle 50 percent were paid between $35,990 and $60,430.

Employment Outlook

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment for parole officers and other correctional treatment specialists will increase by 19 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is a faster rate than the average for all occupations. Overcrowding in prisons may lead to an increased parole rate, which means that there will be a demand for parole officers to supervise those released from prison. In addition, many officers in the field are expected to retire in coming years, so there will be a need for replacements.

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References

  • Photo Credit latticed prison window image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com
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