Probation officers help offenders return to the community. They make sure they obey the conditions of their probation or parole.
Probation officers support people found guilty of a crime.
They help and supervise the following people:
- offenders released on probation instead of going to prison
- offenders released on parole after receiving a prison sentence (punishment) of less than two years
These people are allowed to live in the community but only under supervision and under specific conditions.
Probation officers talk with offenders to understand and evaluate their situations and needs. They prepare intervention plans to help offenders take responsibility for themselves and refer them to helpful resources. For example, they help offenders find a place to live, recover from addiction, etc. Intervention plans lower the chances that offenders will commit new crimes. Making intervention plans is one of the most important things a probation officer does.
Probation officers keep track of offenders. They meet offenders on a regular basis and make sure they follow their probation or parole conditions. For example, probation officers check whether offenders are home by a specific hour and attend therapy appointments.
Probation officers must have these skills:
- be very good with people so as to earn the trust and respect of offenders
- be firm and stay calm when someone bullies them or challenges their authority
- interview offenders and decide what they need to return safely to the community
- prepare intervention plans to help offenders take responsibility for themselves
- make sure that offenders meet the conditions of their probation or parole
- write evaluation reports on offenders’ behaviour
Probation officers work in prisons or courthouses. They work closely with correctional officers, social workers and other professionals. Probation officers are always busy. They often have only a short time to prepare evaluation reports.
Probation officers work for the provincial government.
Note that the officers responsible for offenders on parole who received sentences of two years or more work for the federal government. They are called parole officers.
To become a probation officer, you must have a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields:
- psychology or psychoeducation
- social work or social services
- guidance or school and vocational counselling
- sexuality studies
- another related field
When you apply for a job as a probation officer, you must go through a selection process. If you get the job, you must follow a training program given by Quebec’s correctional services department.
The salary of probation officers in Quebec is fixed in their union contract with the Quebec government. In 2015, they earned from $40,419 to $74,416 a year.
The salary of parole officers (who work for the federal government) is determined in their union contract with the federal government.
The Service Canada website gives information about probation officers and parole officers, including job prospects.
Emploi Québec’s Information sur le marché du travail website (job market information) has information about probation officers, the work they do, job prospects and necessary training.