Juvenile Probation and Aftercare Services

Abstract

Traditionally, juvenile probation was conducted under the premise of child saving which focused on preventing juvenile offending by intervening in the youths’ lives. Currently, most court-ordered services are rendered through juvenile probation. Using probation, juvenile offending can be managed in three phases— community sanctions, diverting from formal punishment and aftercare. Juvenile aftercare encompasses a series of reiterative services developed to prepare offending youths placed initially out of their homes for transition into the community. Juvenile aftercare programs are primarily geared toward reducing the cases of reoffending among the youths. Youths on parole may be enrolled in many programs like restorative programs, counseling programs, skill enhancement programs, and coordinated services. Probation officers also play pivotal roles in the lives of probationers. Some roles played by probation officers include a social broker, social services, and law enforcement. Although probation is a standard tool in the criminal justice system, some scholars have criticized it as a revolving door, whereby juveniles get rearrested for similar crimes while still undergoing supervision. The present essay has provided an in-depth discussion of the concept of juvenile justice system, with a focus on the probation process, aftercare practice, services provided, roles of probation officers and juvenile probation policies.

Key Words: Probation, probation officers, juvenile parole, aftercare, juvenile probation policies

Juvenile Probation and Aftercare Services

Juvenile parole is the most widely used and the oldest vehicle through which a huge chunk of court-ordered services is rendered. Probation is an essential tool used within the system, in managing juvenile delinquency in different phases— community sanction, aftercare and diverting from incarceration or formal prosecution (Rudes, Viglione & Taxman, 2011). As a critical portion of the juvenile justice system, probation officials act as mediators between rehabilitation and punishment of offending youths especially in the U.S. with specific management responsibilities for addressing the juvenile offenders’ unmet needs. Despite the critical role played by probation officers, research has uncovered that probation has a  critical but small impact on juvenile outcomes. Similarly, some scholars have suggested that enhancements like police partnerships outdoor adventure and job preparation may offer some improvements over standard probation.

Unlike the adult justice system, juvenile probation has traditionally been conducted under the premise of child protection, which duels on preventing delinquency by intervening in the youth’s lives. Reclaiming Futures is a perfect model that incorporates this concept. The model presents three specific objectives for the youth— better treatment to address the needs of the youth, more treatment to identify those in need of treatment, assess personal needs and connect juveniles to treatment, and beyond treatment to encourage the association of youths with community partnerships, pro-social activities and adult mentors. Rudes, Viglione, and Taxman (2011) argue that communities which adopt the Reclaiming Futures model attain significant improvements regarding juvenile justice quality. Such an argument can be used to explain the increased application of this model in administering youth justice in different jurisdictions.

The Juvenile Probation Process