Topic: Probation as a Social Service Approach
Thread: How would a social service approach for probation be more effective in helping to reduce recidivism? What additional trainings should a probation officer receive in order to be more effective using a social service approach? This is a 2-part question.
1. West- Without question, I would agree that bringing a social services approach to probation officers (especially juveniles) could help reduce recidivism. I believe this for many reasons, but the few stand out the most: even though the offender has had the benefit of being on probation and not continuing their time in jail, there are still many needs that have gone unmet. And when essential needs go unmet, it can make it that much easier to return to their old habits. It is often a mental health need that has gone undetected or a fear that they may have within their home, being jobless, which could further result in illegal activity to get their needs met, and the list goes on. “To address these concerns the criminal justice system has implemented goals for the offender to complete while on parole or if forgoing prison time on probation. These goals can include drug assessment and treatment, cognitive-behavioral classes, anger management, and drug screening” (Brinson, 2013). Additionally, an article created for Crisis intervention teams states, “Widespread crisis intervention strategies and techniques are critical to addressing rising rates of overdoses and suicides that continue to devastate families nationwide. Now, more than ever, we must break the all- too common cycle of sending those with mental health and substance use disorders through the criminal justice system” (Kimball, Cochran, & Dunpont, 2019).
I know I probably sound like a broken record from past posts, but while being relocated during the pandemic last year, I saw and worked with this firsthand for all the ages; sometimes it worked, and other times it did not. I found it massive using this approach because, when you arrive at a situation or a wellness check, being in “everyday clothing” and not a police uniform made the panic decrease. We built rapport quickly, which further made all visits more personal and more accessible for all of us.
I believe probation officers would benefit from additional training in the mental health fields and what precautions to take if they think that individual is in danger of themselves or others. Additional training on building rapport within the community can also help; that way, if there is a time when these officers are needs, it can be more efficient. “Countless law enforcement officers and mental health professionals have joined the fight for mental health recovery. It has all been driven by relationships and a sense of local ownership for the challenges of mental health crises in their own communities” (Kimball, Cochran, & Dunpont, 2019). Proverbs 3:27 NIV reads, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act (The Holy Bible, 2011)”.
Brinson, A. (2013). Success, Desistance and Relationships Between Probation Officers and Probationers: A Social Work Perspective. Retrieved from SOPHIA: https://sophia.stkate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?arti…
Kimball, A., Cochran, S., & Dunpont, R. (2019, August). Crisis Intervention. Retrieved from CIT International: https://www.citinternational.org/resources/Best%20…
The Holy Bible. (2011). Proverbs 3:27. Retrieved from Bible Gateway: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=PROVE…
2. Glasster- A social service approach to probation would be beneficial for people because the officers chose the role as a service to others wanting to help them. Our text talks about social service to law enforcement and back. I am not saying that people with law enforcement backgrounds don’t want to help and serve these people. However, law enforcement believes that the legal and enforcement part of their role and are more likely to emphasize their authority, rule abidance, and enforcement of conditions (Gideon & Sung, 2011p. 107). There is nothing wrong with viewing probation that way. But this type of attitude may deter probationers from wanting to abide by the rules. Probation officers who have a more therapeutic perspective view their role as counselors to probationers to help them connect with community services and identifying appropriate treatment programs in their community (Gideon & Sung, 2011 p. 108). Since social service-oriented probation officers focus on the rehabilitative side of corrections and probation, we know that would help reduce recidivism. We have focused on what elements play a part in if an offender reoffends once released throughout this course. There are certain things to look at before assessing if an offender would be a good candidate for rehabilitation. Risk-related information is critical to consider for pretreatment planning (Gideon & Sung, 2011 p. 42). Based on the offender’s risk assessment, social service-based probation would be a practical approach to keeping people out of prison while providing them with rehabilitative treatment programs.
It takes a particular type of person to be in a rehabilitative role for another person. There should be specific training to ensure that someone is prepared to support people in this way because it can be detrimental to their success in probation. Looking at the training that social workers go through to prepare them for their field of work, the same type could be beneficial for probation officers. Social workers are ready for their occupation by institutions that are promoting respect for human diversity and education in diverse clients and communities (Cano, 2020). Preparing one for the diverse community they will be working in. This type of education would be beneficial across the board of social services, especially for those who work in probation in parole.
Manuel Cano (2020) Diversity and Inclusion in Social Service Organizations: Implications for
Community Partnerships and Social Work Education, Journal of Social Work Education, 56:1, 105-114, DOI: 10.1080/10437797.2019.1656577
Gideon, L., & Sung, H. E. (2011). Rethinking corrections: Rehabilitation, reentry, and
reintegration (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN: 9781412970198.