When an incarcerated individual is released from prison while the time limit of his/her original sentence still remains (typically for good behavior or other extenuating circumstances), that prisoner is said to be on parole. A parole officer is a specialized worker in the criminal justice system who helps these paroled persons to get re-acquainted with life outside the penal system. They help place these persons in temporary housing and work with them regarding job training and placement while closely monitoring their behavior and social acquaintances.
One of the first things a parole officer must do is place a newly-paroled prisoner in some sort of housing. While some persons are granted early release from jail because they have a family home, in other situations the parole officer must secure subsidized housing arrangements for the individual. Most jurisdictions have such housing arrangements available, and the availability of these rooms or small apartments is also a consideration when granting parole to a prisoner. Parole officers also work with parolees to help find jobs and train for them, which involves enrolling parolees in training that fits their aptitude, but can also include finding jobs and other opportunities which build upon any education and training acquired through vocational rehabilitation while in prison.
Perhaps the most important aspect of a parole officer's job involves post-release monitoring of a parolee. The officer may need to arrange for outpatient addiction meetings and drug testing as part of the parole agreement, and they also keep close tabs on each parolee under their responsibility by visiting them at home and work and monitoring what is normally restricted travel.
Because a parole officer's testimony or findings can result in a person's parole being revoked and new charges being filed, this job is not simply about counseling and psychological development. Parole officers are law-enforcement officials who typically carry a sidearm and must be trained in many police procedures. They often choose this field of training in vocational schools or community colleges and typically work throughout the week, as well as irregular weekend hours as needed. This position also requires field work and extensive time spent performing office duties.
Parole Officer Tasks
Conduct pre-sentence investigations.
Makes recommendations for rehabilitation, treatment plans, conditions of probation, the need for incarceration, and appropriate level.
Complete investigations with cooperation from other criminal justices agencies.
Make placement recommendations concerning offenders sentenced to the Department of Corrections.