Court Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
In 2005, approximately 4,162,500 adult men and women were under Federal, State or local probation jurisdiction.
What are the educational requirements for probation officers?
The minimum educational requirements for adult and juvenile probation officers vary from state to state. The vast majority of states require a minimum of a bachelor's degree. There are states that prefer that candidates have some level of previous related experience or knowledge of the job. A few states will consider candidates with a minimum of a high school education and experience.
In Illinois, the general qualifications are:
- A citizen of the United States.
- A resident of the State of Illinois within 90 days of employment (the Circuit Courts may impose more restrictive residency requirements).
- A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, preferably with major course work in criminal justice, psychology, sociology, social work, or related social science.
- Otherwise generally qualified as provided by law or rule of the Court. Circuit Court policy may establish more restrictive employment requirements.
Click on the Employment link for additional information.
What is probation?
(APPA Position Statement on Probation)
Probation is a Court Order through which an offender is placed under the control, supervision and care of a probation/court services officer in lieu of imprisonment, so long as the probationer meets certain standards of conduct.
What is parole?
(APPA Position Statement on Parole)
Parole refers to the term of supervision that occurs once offenders are conditionally released to the community after serving a prison term. Parolees are subject to being returned to prison for rule violations or other offenses.
What is the difference between jail and prison?
(US Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics)
Jail is confinement in a local correctional facility while pending trial, awaiting sentencing, serving a sentence that is less than one (1) year, or waiting transfer to other facilities after conviction. Prison is confinement in a State or Federal correctional facility to serve a sentence of more than one (1) year, although in some jurisdictions the length of sentence which results in prison confinement is longer.
Who should be placed on probation?
(C. Wickland-Personal Communication, June 15, 1999)
The easy answer to who should be placed on probation is that most non-violent offenders are good candidates for probation. However, there are no easy answers. Many jurisdictions have a variety of offenders on probation (e.g., property offenders, domestic abusers, felony and misdemeanor offenders and sex offenders). It all comes down to what is the capacity of the individual jurisdiction, what will the community tolerate, state statutes, resource availability, etc. How well someone does on probation depends on how well the offenders needs are assessed, how well they are supervised, what resources the agency has available to assist in their supervision and rehabilitation and the motivation of the offender.
What is the average or recommended caseload size?
(American Probation and Parole Issue Paper on caseload standards)
Not every offender needs the same type or amount of supervision. To be effective and efficient, there must be varying amounts of supervision provided to offenders. Significant proportions of agencies have adopted classification and case management systems for their supervision operations. Illinois has adopted such a system. The Model System incorporates classification with a method of accounting for cases known as the "workload" model. The workload model is based on differentiation among cases. Under the workload approach time factors into the weight that a case receives in assigning it to an officer and for accounting for its contribution to the officer's total responsibilities. For example, an offender classified as high risk would require more of the officer's time each month while a lower risk offender would require less time each month. Therefore, since the case management strategies are based on differentiation of case supervision, then the method for assigning and accounting for those cases must accommodate that approach. It does not make sense to count every case as equal in assigning and accounting for a total caseload if the basic supervision strategy is to purposely supervise cases differentially. The workload concept does that, and thus is a more accurate and fair way to describe officer caseloads. It also makes it more difficult to define an ideal caseload in numbers. The policies and procedures of probation agencies across the U.S. varies so that there is not enough consistency of practice to support national workload standards.
How many adults are on probation or parole and what are their demographics?
For answers to these questions and more, visit the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/