5 Key Terms Every Probation/Parole Officer Should Know

Probation and Parole Officer Key Terms

  • Community Corrections
  • Conditional Release
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Halfway House
  • Intensive Supervision Probation

What are five key terms every probation/parole officer should know? Parole is one of the most important times during an individual’s life and can contribute to the success of former inmates. In fact, many states in the country are paving the way for criminal justice reform for parolees. Here are five key terms that every officer working in parole and probation should understand in order to help make a difference in former inmates’ lives, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Community Corrections

Every probation and parole officer should be required to understand what the term community corrections means. It is an alternative to incarceration that is offered by the criminal justice system and could include anything from pretrial programs to parole. These alternatives can give some individuals another shot at living life as an upstanding citizen, but it comes with restrictions. Each individual must meet the criteria for community corrections; this is based on the severity of the crime, their willingness to seek medical or psychological help if needed, prior criminal record, and more.

2. Conditional Release

In some cases, probation and parole officers participate in a conditional release. This is a term that refers to an individual returning to the community between trial hearings and court dates. Parole officers are assigned to these individuals, who have conditions upon their release, and are responsible for ensuring they meet those conditions. Sample conditions could include maintaining employment, participating in drug rehab, electronic monitoring, or abiding by restraining orders. If any of these conditions are violated, the parole officer remands the individual back into the correctional institution.

3. Dual Diagnosis

Probation officers are usually the first contact that a parolee has with society; therefore, it is important that they understand what the key term dual diagnosis means. This refers to an individual who has been diagnosed by psychiatric professionals as having two or more mental or physical disorders. This is an important term for parole and probation officers to understand, because it changes their interaction with the parolee and may have a hand in the conditions for that parolee’s release. Probation officers often coordinate community supervision with the parolee’s medical team in cases like these to ensure a successful reintroduction into society.

4. Halfway House

A key term that all parole officers should be aware of is halfway house. This is a residential facility set up for parolees who have left incarceration; it stands as the intermediary residence before the parolee is reintroduced into society. Most parolees who stay at halfway houses are court-ordered to do so and it is the responsibility of the parole officer to ensure that they meet this requirement as part of the conditions for release. If a parolee fails to comply with this requirement, they may be ordered back into the prison system for a length of time determined by the court that set the conditions for release.

5. Intensive Supervision Probation

One of the five key terms that every probation or parole officer should know is ISP, which is also known as intensive supervision probation. This is a term that refers to a parolee that has been required to undergo daily or frequent visits with their probation or parole officer. It is a more stringent version of parole in which the parolee must have direct contact with their parole officer on a consistent basis and is often paired with other monitoring services and community supervision. While not all parolees will be required to undergo intensive supervision probation, it does happen and parole officers should know what this supervision entails.

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The criminal justice system is filled with terms that can be hard to keep up with, especially as the system undergoes reforms in different parts of the country. By understanding what these terms means, officers will be effective at their job. The above five key terms every probation/parole officer should know are just a start, and officers are encouraged to continue their education in order to help individuals become functioning members of society.