With a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice from Central Christian College of Kansas, you can move on to many different careers including working as a game warden, private investigator, or U.S. Marshal. From a local police officer to an FBI agent, there are many different paths you can take with this education, including a career as a parole officer.
A parole officer fills a unique need in the criminal justice system and society as a whole. By helping take inmates from the cell to society, they reduce the burden on our prison system while creating better lives for past convicts.
What is “Parole?”
To understand parole officer duties, it helps to know what parole really is. Parole is the release of an inmate from jail before their maximum sentence ends. This parole can come under a wide variety of conditions, and the parole can be revoked resulting in the inmate sent back to jail if the conditions of the parole are broken.
This release under parole is not without specific requirements for the parolee, or the inmate being released from prison. The inmate will have to maintain certain conditions of living and activity, and it’s up to the parole officer to make sure these conditions are met and make recommendations on the parolee’s performance.
Parole vs Probation
Parole and probation are alternatives to incarceration, but they are not the same thing. Parole is when an inmate leaves prison or jail with specific conditions, while probation is a form of criminal sentencing that does not involve serving jail time.
In the case of probation, the defendant remains free from incarceration as long as they meet certain conditions, which can include reporting to an officer. For outside observers they can look like the same thing, but essentially parole comes after prison, while probation comes without prison.
A Parole Officer Develops a Plan for the Parolee
One of the most important parts of a parole officer job description occurs before the inmate is released. Working with the inmate and other criminal-justice professionals, the parole officer will create a plan that will help the inmate rehabilitate in society. Going from prison to the outer world can be a tough transition, and falling into past activities is all to common.
To give the inmate the best chance at success, the parole officer and the inmate typically have several discussions, allowing the officer to consider the needs, wants, and abilities of the future parolee. The parole officer will then determine a course that will set the person up for success.
Assist Parolee in Following Conditions
The parolee will have specific conditions that need to be met during parole. These conditions include some things they are not allowed to do, such as drink alcohol or consume drugs, and they may not be allowed to contact certain people or leave a given area, such as the state or county. The parole conditions will also include things they are required to do, which may involve finding employment or securing a safe place to live.
Parole officer duties will often include helping with these requirements by providing resources and information. For example, they may point a parolee towards a company that will hire them, or give them contact information for a quality apartment complex. They could even set up interviews, make referrals, or even assist with transportation in certain circumstances.
Ensuring the parolee follows through on the conditions is an essential part of the job. Parole officers will check on the parolee to make sure they are meeting the conditions, such as curfew or sobriety. They may interview friends and family members for information on the parolee’s activities, and they may test parolees for drug use.
The parole officer may also perform checkups on the parolee, visiting them at their home or work, just to see how things are going.
Finally, parole officer will include evaluating the behavior and performance of the parolee. This can include written reports, creating case files, and making recommendations to judges and other members of the legal system. These evaluations are crucial, as they can be the difference between freedom and future jail time for an inmate. For this reason, the highest care, respect, and regard goes into these reports.
Career Outlook for Parole Officers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 90,000 parole officers in the United States, and this career has an expected growth of 6% between 2016 and 2026, meaning it will grow about as fast as the national average.
After college, it only requires short-term on-the-job training, and professionals in this career field stand to earn a median salary of $50,160 per year, while the top 10% in the field earn over $88,000.
Money, however, is far from the top reason for becoming a parole officer. This is a job for people who want a rewarding career that is beneficial to individuals and society as a whole. If you want more information about becoming a parole officer through our Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice program, contact our team today. All our online police courses are delivered and designed by experienced criminal justice experts.
Central Christian College of Kansas also works with the Fellowship of Christian Police Officers to develop a Christian mindset in peace officers through our curriculum. We’ll be glad to discuss further details of online classes so you can make a fully-informed decision about how to prepare for a fulfilling new career.