The Probation Service in Armenia compared to other developed nations
By Stefani Marinova, HAHR Volunteer, Canada
Probation in Criminal Law is the release of an offender from detention, subject to a period of good behavior under supervision. In some jurisdictions, the term probation applies only to community sentences (alternatives to incarceration), such as suspended sentences. In others, probation also includes supervision of those conditionally released from prison on parole. In this report I will be analyzing the Probation systems of Canada, The US, Lithuania and The UK (England and Wales). I will be comparing their systems to the one in Armenia and making suggestions and recommendations for reform.
In Canada, Probation and parole officers help ensure public safety by overseeing offenders who are serving their sentence or part of it in the community. Probation officers supervise and help offenders who have been placed on probation, while parole officers help recently released offenders reintegrate into society while keeping an eye on them. For example, officers can assist offenders with finding employment or help them reduce their risk of re-offending. Parole and probation are two different types of supervision. Parole is a type of community supervision generally available to offenders after serving a certain period of their sentence in prison. However, parole does not reduce the length of a prison term. In fact, a person is still considered a detainee, but one who is serving the rest of a sentence while living in the community, rather than in a prison, subject to certain conditions. Parole allows offenders to take concrete steps towards integrating back into society, steps aimed at reducing the risk of them committing another crime, also known as recidivism. Probation, however, is not necessarily tied to a prison term. It can be the only sentence a person convicted of a crime receives. A judge sentences a person to probation not as a form of punishment but rather to “keep an eye on them” in order to help them through the rehabilitation process. Three years is the maximum term of a probation sentence. While parole and probation officers perform different functions, there is some overlap in their work. The work of these two types of officers can be broken down into three main areas of duties: supervision, support and prevention as well as assessment. Probation and parole officers supervise offenders serving part of their sentence in the community or who have been put on probation. The officers also provide these individuals with help and direction, particularly by connecting them with appropriate resources available to them. Offenders who have been granted parole or who have been sentenced to probation must regularly report to their probation or parole officer. The officer ensures offenders are respecting their probation or parole conditions. These conditions can include:
• Respecting a curfew
• Staying away from or not communicating with a particular person
• Avoiding areas where there are criminals • Avoiding schoolyards
• Not moving to a different location
• Doing community work
• Undergoing drug or alcohol treatment
• Not consuming alcohol
• Not owning firearms Ensuring offenders respect their conditions, which help protect members of the public, is a very important part of the officer’s work. If parole or probation conditions are breached, the officer must advise the authorities, who will then take the appropriate measures (for example, return the offender to prison). Probation officers and parole officers are also there to assist with the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into society and to help prevent offenders from committing another crime. Depending on the situation, officers may help offenders: • Find employment • Look for housing
• Make new friends or
• Deal with addictions Together with the offender, the officer will develop an individual intervention plan aimed at, first and foremost, eliminating the offender’s “criminogenic” needs (i.e., what drives their criminal behavior).
The officer’s role is to:
• Understand the problems an offender is dealing with; and
• Provide counselling to offenders and refer them to community organizations or programs that may be helpful to them.
Probation and parole officers must produce several reports. They comment on the progress offenders are making in integrating back into society and whether they have been complying with the conditions of their release, etc. Probation officers evaluate offenders from the beginning of the probation period. They also evaluate the offender’s current situation as time goes on. If the offenders are at high risk of re-offending, they must meet with their officer more often and take additional steps to increase their success at reintegrating and reduce their chances of returning to a criminal lifestyle. When a person is found guilty of a crime, a probation officer prepares a pre-sentence report to assist the judge in deciding which sentence would be appropriate.
The officer looks at:
• The offender’s living environment: childhood situation, family, friends, work, leisure activities, economic and social situations
• The offender’s family situation • The circumstances surrounding the crime and
• Steps to help the offender do what is needed to improve his or her future, such as undergo therapy, conduct job searching, etc.) In short, probation and parole officers play an important role in the legal process both before and after sentencing.
In Canada, Probation officers usually work for the provincial governments while parole officers work for the federal government. Probation and parole officers are never self-employed. There is currently no program for becoming a probation or parole officer. However, a university degree of two years, preferably in social sciences, is usually required. For example, in British Columbia, you must complete a four-year undergrad diploma to become an adult probation officer. You must also complete the training given by your province or territory’s correctional services. New probation and parole officers must successfully complete a comprehensive basic training program that builds on the empirical research and principles of effective correctional intervention and programming. They are given ongoing training in subjects that will help them perform their duties in a professional and effective manner. A typical probation officer in Canada will manage between 20 and 35 offenders at any given time. There were, on average, 94,904 adults under provincial/territorial community supervision such as probation, conditional sentences and provincial parole in the 10 reporting provinces and territories (excluding Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Yukon) in 2017/2018. There were 9,043 adults under federal community supervision such as day parole, full parole and statutory release. Adults under community supervision, which includes probation, accounted for 80% of the provincial/territorial correctional population and 39% of the federal correctional population. The rate of adults under provincial/territorial community supervision was 337 per 100,000 population in 2017/2018, up 1% from the previous year but down 14% compared with five years earlier. The rate of adults under federal community supervision was 31 per 100,000 population, up 4% from the previous year and 11% higher compared with 2013/2014. On average, there were 6,296 youth aged 12 to 17 under community supervision in the nine reporting provinces and territories (excluding Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Yukon). This represented a rate of 36 youth per 10,000 population, down 6% from the previous year and 35% lower compared with five years earlier. Youth under community supervision accounted for 89% of the youth correctional population. A national survey of Canadian Probation and Parole officers found that the vast majority feel overworked and feel that they can’t properly protect the public as a result. Ninety-two per cent of the officers agreed an increase in staffing would improve their capacity to keep Canadians safe. Canada’s parole officers say the country’s corrections system is at a breaking point due to workloads that are “insurmountable” — a situation they say poses real risks to public safety. A recent survey of parole officers by the Union of Safety and Justice Employees suggested more than two-thirds of parole workers are worried they’re not able to properly protect the public because they do not have time to adequately assess, supervise and prepare offenders for release.
The United States
In the United States, probation officers exist at the city, county, state, and federal levels, that is, wherever there is a court of competent jurisdiction. Since the abolishment of parole in the federal system in 1984, there are no longer any federal parole officers. However, there is a small and decreasing number of parolees still being supervised that were sentenced prior to 1984, including court-martialed military personnel. U.S. probation officers serve as parole officers for those cases. Generally, probation officers investigate an offender’s personal and criminal history for the court prior to sentencing and then may supervise defendants who have been sentenced to probation but not to a term of incarceration (unless, of course, the conditions of probation are violated). They may also serve arrest warrants, but can perform any other function assigned by the court. On the other hand, parole officers supervise offenders that have served a prison term, but who have subsequently been paroled, or released from prison under supervision; this decision is made after the review and consideration of an inmate’s case by a warden, parole board or other parole authority. Parolees are essentially serving the remainder of their prison sentence in the community. However, some jurisdictions are modifying or abolishing the practice of parole and giving post-release supervision obligations to a community corrections agent, often generically if imprecisely referred to as a probation officer. Other jurisdictions are expanding a parole officer’s duties to include post-incarceration supervision under special sentencing, such as convictions requiring sex offender registration, civil commitments, and violent offenders.
These cases involve persons who have completed their incarceration, but who must be supervised under the special sentence for three years, or even for life, as in the case with Community Supervision for Life sentencing for sex offenders. In some states, due to the heightened danger to the public, these cases are supervised by parole officers rather than probation officers since parole officers are more commonly trained in police academies and carry firearms. Probation and parole officers are required to possess excellent oral and written communication skills, a broad knowledge of the criminal justice system. This includes knowledge of the roles, relationships, and responsibilities that are distributed among the government agencies and outside organizations. Government agencies include the courts, the parole authority, the Bureau of Prisons or Department of Corrections, local jails, the prosecuting attorneys, and other police agencies. Outside organizations may include legal services, substance abuse counseling and social services agencies. Officers must understand applicable case law and sentencing guidelines (if applicable). Additionally, they must have an ability to work with an extremely diverse population of individuals, convicted of various crimes, and work with a wide variety of government agencies and community organizations. Finally, they must accept the potential hazards of working closely with a criminal population. Most jurisdictions require officers to have a four-year bachelor’s degree, and prefer a graduate degree for full consideration for probation officer positions on the federal level. Probation officers are usually issued a badge or some other form of credentials and, in some cases, may carry concealed weapons or pepper spray for self-protection. Parole officers, in many jurisdictions, are issued a badge, credentials, and firearm, and often have full police powers. Probation and parole officers in positions that have law enforcement power must attend a police academy as part of their training and certification, and are technically classified as peace officers.
Typically, probation and parole officers do not wear uniforms, but dress in business or casual attire. The structure of probation agencies varies from state to state. Traditionally, probation agencies have a loosely based paramilitary command structure and are usually headed by a chief probation officer or director. The chain-of-command usually flows to deputy chief or assistant director, then to supervisor or senior probation officer, then to the line probation officer. In some states however, probation departments are seconded under a county sheriff, and probation officers may be uniformed and integrated into the paramilitary structure of the agency. In both systems, some parole and probation officers supervise general caseloads with offenders who are convicted of a variety of offenses. Other officers, particularly in urban populations, may hold specialized caseload positions, and work with specific groups of offenders such as sex offenders, offenders sentenced to electronic monitoring (house arrest) or GPS monitoring, and cases with severe mental health, substance abuse and/or violent histories. In some states and localities, probation departments have a specialized officer position known as a surveillance officer or field supervision officer. These officers have full probation officer authority, are sometimes peace officers, with arrest authority, and are badged and occasionally armed. There are approximately 103,400 people employed as Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists. In the United States, the adult population on probation or parole declined from 4,508,900 at the end of 2017 to 4,399,000 at the end of 2018, a decrease of 2.4%.The total community-supervision population in 2018 was at its lowest level since 1998.The portion of adults on community supervision fell 1.5% from 2016 to 2017, 3% from 2017 to 2018, and 22% from 2008 to 2018.In 2018, the portion of adults on community supervision was at its lowest level since 1990.An estimated 1 in 58 adults in the U.S. were under community supervision at the end of 2018, down from 1 in 45 in 2008. Probation and Parole officers in the United States continue to express concern and fear over possible violent victimization when conducting field work. This concern has continued to fuel the debate regarding probation officer safety and has led to calls from many quarters to arm these officers (Cohn, 1997). Ten years ago, Brown (1990) stated that “The academic world has largely ignored the issue of carrying firearms, perhaps because of the general perception that the probation and parole officer’s role is as a counselor or even advocate of the probationer or parolee.” However, in recent years more probation agencies have moved toward a control model of supervision, complete with arrest powers, and carrying of firearms by probation officers has become increasingly common (Abadinsky, 2000).
Those who oppose arming probation officers believe that arming will increase the attitudes and beliefs that are consistent with that of law enforcement, while decreasing the equally important goals of social worker for the purpose of reintegrating the offender back into the community. Opponents of arming also are concerned that officers who carry firearms may tend to escalate a situation with an offender to the point where injuries and death occur (Champion, 1996). And once a probation officer is armed, he/she may become more authoritative, forceful, and law-enforcement oriented, while the probation department’s goals, and philosophy might shift from rehabilitation and reintegration to law enforcement and security. With specialized caseloads and increased enforcement activities come special safety concerns. Placing several high-risk offenders on the same caseload with intense enforcement-oriented supervision can heighten concern for PO safety issues. One way departments have addressed this issue is by permitting POs to carry firearms. Whether POs should be armed continues to be a fiercely debated topic in corrections today. In the federal probation system, all but 11 of the 94 federal judicial districts permit U.S. probation officers to carry firearms. A review of the literature reveals three major issues related to arming: philosophy, liability, and officer safety. The philosophical debate revolves around whether a probation officer can effectively perform traditional probation work while armed, with traditionalists tending toward the negative anti-arming response and enforcement-oriented POs tending toward the positive.
The traditionalists believe that carrying a firearm contributes to an atmosphere of distrust between the “client” and the probation officer, ultimately impacting the ability of the officer to be an effective agent of change. Enforcement-oriented probation officers, on the other hand, commonly view a firearm as an additional tool to protect themselves from the risk associated with increased interaction with violent, serious and/or high-risk offenders. The second major consideration is the liability potential for both the individual officer and the department if the weapon is used or discharged. A related issue also distinguishes between carrying a firearm on-duty versus off-duty. The use of deadly force and the liability associated with it are extremely important issues for both the officer and the department. Another major issue involves the department’s liability if an officer is injured or killed in the line of duty, and it can be proven that the officer might have survived if he or she had been armed. One of the most contested facets of arming involves the actual and perceived safety of the officer. While most departments acknowledge that probation work poses some level of risk to the officers, the level of dangerousness is actively debated. Nationally, probation officers are increasingly voicing a concern for their safety when conducting field activities.
Until recently, there was little empirical data concerning the types and frequencies of assaults involving probation officers and field supervision. In 1993, the federal probation and pretrial officer’s association conducted a national survey of agencies nationwide concerning the type and number of serious assaults against officers while on duty. In the study, over 459 or 48 percent of the agencies responded. Several major metropolitan cities did not respond, making it likely that the data may under-represent the number of assaults against probation officers. Bigger reported a total of 1,818 serious physical assaults, with an additional 792 attempted assaults against officers between 1980 and 1993. The Administrative Office (AO) of the U.S. Courts recorded 178 hazardous incidents that were reported by U.S. probation and pretrial services officers for 1998. Of these incidents the most common were phone, letters, or indirect threats (48), followed by “dangerous” situations (29), and animal attacks (26). There were 17 instances of individual and crowd intimidation and 15 situations involving firearms or edged weapons. The AO also recorded 8 verbal threats against USPOs and U.S. pretrial services officers and 2 unarmed assaults. The incident perpetrator was the offender in 45 percent of the cases and another person was responsible 35 percent of the time. Most incidents occurred in the field (56 percent) while 28 percent were recorded in the office.
The history and evolution of community punishment in Lithuania reflects political changes and discloses a metamorphosis of attitudes towards offenders. Correctional crowding problems forced politicians and researchers to rethink sentencing and correctional policies, to focus on alternative forms of punishment to imprisonment, one of which is community supervision. The new Probation Act implemented in 2012 is oriented towards the implementation of probationer’s re-socialization and support rather than concentrating solely on the control issues. Subsequent legal acts specified terms and conditions for substituting imprisonment with community sentence. In cases when there is a sufficient basis for believing that the purpose of the penalty can be achieved without a sentence being served, the suspended sentence started to be imposed. This was followed by a plethora of new conditions, such as participation in cognitive-behavioral programs, which are now imposed by the court. Along with the implementation of a new penal policy, the criteria for evaluation of effectiveness of the probation service were formulated. Although a wide range of criteria are used, the relative number of successful probation sentences as well as the number of breaches are emphasized in the process of monitoring the implementation of the new policy.
Courts and especially probation offices became key institutions responsible for successful implementation of probation; however, their functions in probation process differ. Until 2000 the enforcement of criminal penalties was the competence of the Ministry of Interior (Department of Correctional Affairs) and the punishment carried out by the police. Since 2000, the governance of penal system was transferred to the Ministry of Justice (52 Correctional inspections subordinated to Prison Department under the Ministry of Justice). In 2001, 5 regional correctional inspections were established, (consisted of 48 territorial units). On 1 July 2012 the new Probation Law came into force and 5 regional probation services were established. There are a total of 49 probation units, which have a staff of 260, including 227 probation officers and 33 Administrative employees. Their funding is estimated to be around 4 million Euros. In 2015 there were 21,757 people under probation supervision, 2,322 of those being women. Probation in Lithuania is based on the following principles, the balance of the re-socialization of the client under probation supervision and the security of the society, the individualization of the probation measures, respect to personal liberty, minimal intervention and proportion, cooperation, the stimulation to become volunteers and the realization of restorative justice. The forms of Resocialization used include the implementation of the measures including the reduction of risk and the elimination of criminal factors, Individual and group work with the client under supervision in order to motivate and stimulate his/her abilities to live without committing crime and the client’s social integration,
The meeting of the client‘s spiritual and social demands, Social help to solve the client‘s personal and social problems, The development of social abilities, The realization of the programs on the correction of behavior, Individual and group psychotherapy, Psychological help, The realization of restorative measures in order to reconcile the victim and the client under probation supervision and compensate the interest. A Probation officer’s duties include performing social research, evaluating the risk of reoffending planning and implementing supervision, meeting the clients in the Probation office or in their homes (In 2015 the probation officers visited the clients under probation supervision in their homes for 34756 times), controlling the use of drugs and alcohol and implementing programs for the correction of behavior. Electronic monitoring was started to use in 2012, 1 July. This form of control helps reduce the number of convicts in prisons. In 2016, 12 October the Electronic Monitoring Centre was founded. The mission of the Centre is the supervision of the electronic monitoring 24 hours per day. The Ministry of Justice analyses the effectiveness of legislation regulating probation, evaluates and summarizes foreign probation practice, coordinates development of the legal and institutional system of probation, and helps organize the social reintegration of offenders on probation. The probation service is a constituent part of the Correctional Affairs Department (Prison Department), but with its own agencies under the police units of each region. The main functions of the probation service are: the keeping of personal records of persons under suspended sentence and conditional release from imprisonment; employment aid; the supervision and monitoring of the behavior and imposed obligations of such persons; the application of disciplinary measures and incentives; and the search for conditionally released persons whose place of stay is not known. The laws promote the participation of volunteers and non-governmental organizations in probation activities. At present, there are only a few nongovernmental organizations which are actively involved in probation activities (for example, the Prisoners Aid Association) and which assist in job seeking or finding a residential place, provide psychological counselling and some financial and material support, etc.
The UK (England and Wales)
Probation Orders were introduced by the Probation of Offenders Act 1907, and the practice of placing offenders on probation was already routinely undertaken in the London Police Courts by voluntary organizations such as the London Police Court Mission later known as the Rainer Foundation,
These earlier probation services provided the inspiration for similar ideas in the humane treatment and supervision of offenders throughout the British Empire and, in former colonies of Britain as missionaries and members of the British criminal justice system travelled the globe. In modern times the duties of probation officers in the U.K. are to supervise offenders released on license from custody, and to supervise offenders given non-custodial supervisory sentences at court. The work involves focuses on the management of risk of serious harm associated with offenders; on sentence planning and the selection and delivery of a range of interventions aimed at reducing reoffending; and on supervising, and variously devising, delivering or subcontracting schemes by which offenders having “Community Payback” sentences can discharge their requirement to perform unpaid work. Probation officers are also charged with providing a variety of reports on offenders throughout their criminal justice lifecycle, such as pre-sentence reports making recommendations on interventions likely to reduce the likelihood of reoffending or of causing serious harm; pre-release reports making recommendations on license conditions or other interventions necessary for offenders being considered for release on license; and parole reports advising the Parole Board of the probation service view of the offender suitability for release. Such reports will typically provide assessments of the criminal, the nature of crimes and effect on victims, the criminogenic needs and risk of serious harm associated with the individual, and will normally be based in part on an Offender Assessment System analysis.
Probation officers are also responsible for the provision of regular reports to courts of the progress of offenders on orders having drug testing requirements. Additionally, probation officers will supervise a Restorative Justice plan that provides the victim of a crime an opportunity to address the impact of the crime to the offenders. Probation officers are responsible for recalling offenders who have been released on license and have breached their license conditions, and to return offenders on community payback orders to court for re-sentencing in the event of breaches of the terms of the order. The English & Welsh system has two levels of officer, the Probation Officer, and the Probation Service Officer – the latter will normally have less training than the former, and will be limited to supervising offenders at low and medium risk of serious harm. The total number of offenders on probation was 256,010 at the end of 2018. This was a 3% decrease in the total probation caseload (court orders and pre- and post-release supervision) compared with one year earlier and an increase of 5% compared to December 2008. The total annual probation caseload increased by 39% between 2000 and 2008 to 243,434. Since then the probation caseload fell year on year, falling to 217,359 at the end of 2014. However, at the end of December 2018, the total caseload stood at 256,010. This rise in recent years is mainly due to statutory supervision on release from prison for all offenders given custodial sentences of more than one day. The total court order caseload (offenders on community orders (COs) and suspended sentence orders (SSOs)) fell 17% between 2010 and 2015, largely reflecting the fall in the community order caseload. In 2016 the court order caseload rose by 12% but has fallen again since and in 2018 stands at 111,788, very close to the level in 2015. For those starting supervision, the number of court order starts fell by 34% between 2010 and 2018. This largely reflects a fall in community orders given as a sentence by the courts in England and Wales over the past eight years. The total number of court reports prepared by the Probation Service fell by 48% between 2009 and 2018 to 113,228, which is contributed to by the downward trend in the number of defendants being dealt with by the courts over this period. The National Probation Service is a statutory criminal justice service that supervises high-risk offenders released into the community. NPS works with the Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. They work with around 30,000 offenders a year, supporting their rehabilitation while protecting the public. The National Probation Service was set up on 1 June 2014, along with 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) that manage low and medium risk offenders. They work in partnership with the CRCs, with the courts, police and with private and voluntary sector partners in order to manage offenders safely and effectively. Together, the NPS and the CRCs have replaced the former 35 probation trusts. Public safety is at risk as huge workloads and staff shortages continue to place the probation sector under pressure, inspectors have said, while officers lack the “professional curiosity” needed to spot potentially dangerous behavior among offenders managed in the community. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation has painted a picture of a service in crisis with hundreds of vacancies, overstretched officers and managers, and crumbling, overcrowded buildings, including hostels for recently released offenders. An inspection of the central functions supporting the National Probation Service (NPS), the publicly run arm of the probation sector, which supervises about 105,000 high-risk offenders, found that some officers were not properly reviewing their cases. Probation officers in place had an average of 39 cases on their books but could have up to 60 at any one time, while victim liaison officers had an average of 215.
On May 17, 2016, the Republic of Armenia adopted the Law on Probation, which established the basis for probation in the Republic of Armenia, and established a probation service independent of the penitentiary service.
The introduction of this institution was based on the need to move from a punitive policy in the field of criminal justice to a restorative justice system. However, since the adoption of the law and the launch of the service, the assessment of probation activities as such has not been carried out, and the legislative basis of the sector and the relations that still require regulation have not been studied. A practical evaluation of the activities of the service has also not been done, which would allow the identification of the main risks and challenges in the first years of operation. Probation is one of the main institutions of the criminal justice system, which offers courts a variety of alternatives to imprisonment and relies on specialized and skilled personnel. At the same time, it supports those who have returned from prison to society and promotes their re-socialization. The Probation Service operating in the Republic of Armenia was established for this purpose and in principle adopted similar principles. According to the concept, the goals of the RA Probation Service were to reduce crimes by monitoring, directing, assisting and supporting those who have committed crimes, promoting their effective re-socialization, public safety, and the administration of justice. The Probation Service was set up to reduce the need for courts to impose unnecessary sentences, to decrease the number of cases of detention of defendants as a measure of restraint, and to ease the overcrowding of penitentiaries.
Concerns were raised about suspended sentences and the role of the Probation Service in the process of parole, in particular the preparation and submission of reports that play a significant role in this process, which is mandated by law to all employees without criteria and requirements. The issue of electronic surveillance and mediation, which is provided for by law but has not yet been implemented, is still a matter of great concern. On the one hand, there are shortcomings related to its application, on the other hand, again, there are gaps in criminal procedure legislation. Legislative regulations on mediation are especially concerning because, on the one hand, the current criminal legislation does not provide for mediation, on the other hand, the concept of mediation envisaged in the draft amendments to the Criminal Code is not in line with the relevant provisions of the probation law. Summarizing the above, we can state that after the introduction of probation in the Republic of Armenia, no institutional and harmonious legislative changes were made, which would have ensured the implementation of all the functions provided for by law.
Weapons and Special Uniforms
In Canada Probation Officers do not have weapons or special uniforms. Parole Officers, however, do have uniforms and are permitted to carry a weapon. In the United States, all Parole officers have badges, protective gear and weapons. Whether a Probation Officer may carry a firearm depends on each state, in some they have the same gear as parole officers, while in others they only have protective gear and badges. In Lithuania, Probation officers do not have weapons and do not have special uniforms. In the UK (England and Wales) Probation Officers do not carry weapons or have special uniforms. In Armenia, Probation officers do not carry weapons and do not have special uniforms.
Pros of permitting probation officers to carry weapons and to wear special uniforms:
1. Officers dealing with high-risk offenders and doing home visits will feel safer knowing that if they are met with hostility, they can defend themselves.
2. Less assaults committed against Probation Officers
3. Protective gear such as bullet proof vests, proper footwear, a taser or pepper spray will decrease the likelihood of an Officer being attacked.
4. Identification such as a badge and employee ID card helps individuals identify the Probation Officer. 5. Uniforms are beneficial as it also identifies the Officer to the public.
Cons of permitting probation officers to carry weapons and to wear special uniforms:
1. If an officer is carrying a weapon, they may be perceived as a threat by the public
2. Allowing officers to carry a weapon would mean that the government must provide extensive training before permitting them to do so. Such training could be costly.
3. Introducing protective gear would also require at least one or two training sessions and would be costly.
4. Badges and Uniforms would also put a strain on the budget.
My suggestions and recommendations to the Armenian Probation Service:
1. Draft a clear and concise plan of how the service is to operate
2. Draft a clear and concise employee handbook (For Probation Officers) with rules, guidelines and other information that they must abide by.
3. Hire more staff. The smaller the caseload, the better the service. An officer can do a much better job if their caseload is smaller, they simply will have more time to do their daily duties, while having time to double-check files for errors.
4. The state of the facilities is very important. If you have numerous officers using one office, that is neither efficient, nor does it substantially reduce costs. In fact, such conditions end up increasing costs. For example, if everyone has a large caseload, they all work in one office and do not have the time or the space to meet with offenders, then that contributes to missing information, missed meetings and people who will likely reoffend and end up back in prison.
5. Provide ongoing training to Probation Officers
6. Implement better rehabilitation programs, including behavior therapy and psychological help where needed.
7. Aside from Probation officers, hire administrative staff, hire psychologists, therapists, people who can assist in writing CV’s and searching for jobs, assist with finding housing and benefits.
8. Allow officers who work with high-risk offenders or who simply do not feel safe to carry a weapon (Subject to proper training). 9. Create ID Cards or badges for officers so that they can easily be identified by the public.