Juvenile delinquents are young individuals at ages of between ten to eighteen years who have been involved in criminal activities that are punishable by law. However, the criminal acts they are engaged in cannot be termed as crimes since they are not adults. Juveniles are not taken to trials, but are instead adjudicated and after that, they receive a disposition followed by a sentence. Juvenile probation refers to releasing a minor offender who has been detained, following a series of good and commendable behavior. After being released by the correctional departments, the offenders are supervised by probation officers who monitor their progress. Juvenile delinquent cases are continually being registered with the high rate of occurrence being attributed to a broad spectrum of factors (Lober, Farrington, Petechuk, 2003). The main role of the parole officer is to help the offender not to repeat the offenses, this is known as recidivism. Prevention of recidivism is the main aim of programs put in place to shape delinquents. This paper looks at how rehabilitation plays an important part in the probation process.it also scrutinizes the crucial role played by the probation officers in helping the offender transition and re-enter the society. Finally, this paper takes a look at the various challenges that make up part and parcel of the probation process, affecting both the probation officers and the entire society.
Rehabilitation aims at treating the offenders assuming that supervision, technical training, equipping offenders with knowledge in various fields and behavior therapy will play a key role in reducing the frequency at which juveniles commit offenses (Bradshaw and Roseborough,2005). It is an important phase that juveniles undergo in preparation to re-entering the society. Rehabilitation is hands on because some of the skills learned to meet the needs of the juveniles on a personal level and give them positive options contrary to recidivate. It offers the option to an individual that gives them a legal way to achieve their goals. Rehabilitation supports the thought of achieving goals and dreams in a legal and acceptable way.
Additionally, a number of rehabilitation methods can be deployed depending on their suitability. Compared to individual therapy, group therapy can be used in cases where the individuals are not responding, therefore, rendering the sessions unproductive. Group therapy provides a platform where a shift in attention to one individual will be proper hence the use of non-verbal means of communication making them listen more (Young, 1971). Listening results to breakthrough due to the fact that participants discuss among themselves and conclusively, rely on answers from each other. Furthermore, individual therapy involves a one on one session with the therapist and chances of it being fruitful are limited considering the juvenile regards the therapist as a figure of authority. Juveniles tend to ignore and disobey authoritative figures in most scenarios. Group housing also provide a suitable platform for the juveniles to engage with one another in the course of their rehabilitation program. Research indicates that returning to the same environment that the individual was in before taking part in criminal activities can in most cases result into recidivism. Sharing residential fallibilities offers a number of services, safe environment and lessons that are crucial in transition.
Involving family members is a fundamental step in rehabilitating the juveniles. Studies indicate that a large number of juvenile delinquents have roots in families where they have many siblings, a factor that attributes too little attention being offered to them. Support from members of the family helps offenders get over intense processes that they are subjected to in the rehabilitation cycle (Mincey et al, 2008).family therapy not only rehabilitates the juvenile offender alone but the entire family as it helps them learn ways to deal with the reformed person.
In addition, vocational training offers the juveniles something that they can use to better their lives once released (Conlon, Harris, Nagel, Hillman and Hanson, 2008). Education and training is an important factor that can significantly reduce recidivism. This part of the transition process involves giving career advice and counseling, provision of employment opportunities in the particular field on is trained (job placement)and availing living plans. This gives the juvenile delinquents an easier time while transiting back to the society with the hope of having a successful life.
Role of probation officers
Probation is used as a means alternative to incarceration that is provided by the judicial system. The people tasked with the duty of supervising and following up on the offenders are known as probation officers. They keep an eye on these individuals to make sure that they abide by the provisions laid out by the court. Failure to abide by the orders given on the part of the offender is tantamount to breaking the probation stipulations and this can attract severe penalties. In the event, such an offense occurs then the probation officer should report the offender to the judicial system. Probation officers create a network in collaboration with the organizations that provide social services and the community agencies that aid the juvenile delinquents in their process of re-entering the society. The role probation officers play is to “act as the glue” that holds together the process of the judiciary, the courts, the offenders and the society that is accepting back the juvenile delinquent.
Probation officers also work in conjunction with the offenders to make the accountability process between them and their victims a smooth one.in some instances; the officers update the probates on the progress of their cases. The well-being of the victims is of utmost importance and, therefore, the officer ensures that the offender does not breach the no-contact regulation and the restraining orders that have been laid out. In areas where contact between the offender and the victim can help the latter obtain closure and in turn benefit then the officer can come up with a formidable way in which the two parties can meet and settle their differences. In scenarios where restitution is required, then the probation officer acts as a mediator in collecting and forwarding to the victim’s payments made.
Professionals who are deployed in the juvenile probation sector dedicate themselves to ensuring that the young offenders are capable of making positive life changing decisions contrary to the initial ones that landed them in trouble with the authorities. This, however, does not mean that they do not face stiff challenges in the course of performing their duties.
One of the major challenges faced by the juvenile probation department is safety while performing their jobs. There is the perceived thought that the work done by juvenile probation officers is very dangerous. Twenty-five percent of the respondents that took part in an independent survey pointed out that at some stage in their career they have been victims of assault directed to them by the offenders. Another forty-two percent of the respondents also raised concerns that they have always felt that a threat is imminent in process of performing their duties. Various departments have come up with strategies that are geared towards providing informed supervision in areas that the population may be at higher risks.
Secondly, there is increased workload of cases streaming in on a regular basis. Probation officers are allocated limited resources, a factor that risks underperformance on their part. The general public, on the other hand, is in a constant mode of demanding accountability from these institutions. They have also raised issues aligned to the safety of the public. The role played by the probation agencies in this case not only focuses on the offenders on probation themselves but also on the general public. A high number of caseloads do present a major hurdle to the officers who in return are limited to few options but to focus on the cases that pose the highest risks.
Thirdly, the job description of a juvenile probation officer requires them to be deployed in areas that are hostile. With such an exhausting job, the least they can be entitled to good pay. However, the duration they have been in service is not reflected at all in their paychecks. Most probation officers also find themselves working past the normal schedule.
In conclusion, juvenile probation is a process that requires close scrutiny. Offenders deserve to be given a second chance at redeeming themselves and proving that they have made positive changes in their lifestyles. The role played by the probation officers can at times pose serious threats and invite criticism from various fronts. Therefore, it is important to support them as they discharge their duties. The society should also step in and play their role in ensuring that the offenders transit smoothly and are reabsorbed back into the society. Rehabilitation is important to the individuals as this helps them completely change and in the process learn new skills that will help them make a positive living in future. Therefore, it is crucial that such rehabilitation programs are supported and properly funded to provide better services. Offenders on probation should be accepted back into the society regardless of their past mistakes.
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