Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Washington State University
- Since 1992, the total numbers of legally subscribed tasks of adult probation officers in 42 states have increased.
- The increased roles of probation officers and the duties that they must perform have changed as correctional ideology has shifted over the past two decades.
- The additional legally subscribed new tasks for contemporary probation officers identified were: welfare/social worker, risk/needs assessment and individual case adjustment/care management.
- The original focuses of probation officers (supervision and surveillance), have moved to more complex responsibilities including those related to rehabilitation, the development of community service programs, arrest, case investigation, sentencing recommendations, maintaining contacts with courts and risk assessment.
In the article, “Probation Officer Roles: A Statutory Analysis,” Stohr analyzed state statutory definitions of adult probation officer functions and roles from 1992 to 2015 for all 50 states and the District of Columbia to determine how the roles of probation officers have changed over time. Stohr observed an increase in the number of legally subscribed tasks of adult probation officers and the major escalating trend of an increase in law enforcement-oriented functions, as well as marginal increases in rehabilitation and case manager oriented functions. Stohr concludes that many states have moved away from a purely law enforcement model for probation officers in favor of focusing on the “three Rs” – rehabilitation, restorative justice and reentry programming.