OP-ED:The Makings of a Good Juvenile Probation Officer

OP-ED:The Makings of a Good Juvenile Probation Officer by Judge George Timberlake, Ret

To read this article on the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange website, click here.

When juvenile court judges across the nation make decisions in response to crimes committed by children, most often those children receive a sentence of probation, and the court relies upon the talents, education and professionalism of probation officers and departments to put those children on a better path.

You see, judges are trained to make decisions, not to do the hands-on work — matching kids to services, interacting with families and communities and encouraging kids to comply with court orders.

There have always been opposing opinions about how best to accomplish probation’s mission. Some advocate strict supervision requiring absolute compliance with court and probation requirements, and others favor supportive relationships encouraging growth and behavior change.

Unfortunately, some officers see their role in terms outside this continuum, and that is currently news in Chicago.