The criminal justice system provides a way of administrating juctice for people who commit crimes. People depend on police officers and detectives to protect their lives and property. Law enforcement officers, some of whom are State or Federal special agents or inspectors, perform these duties in a variety of ways, depending on the size and type of their organization. Many people who are convicted of crimes are placed on probation instead of being sent to prison. During probation, offenders must stay out of trouble and meet various other requirements. Probation officers, who also may be referred to as community supervision officers in some States, supervise people who have been placed on probation. Parole officers perform many of the same duties that probation officers perform. However, parole officers supervise offenders who have been released from prison on parole to ensure that they comply with the conditions of their parole. In some States, the job of parole and probation officer is combined.
Probation officers also spend much of their time working for the courts. They investigate the background of offenders brought before the court, write presentence reports, and make sentencing recommendations for each offender. Officers review sentencing recommendations with offenders and their families before submitting them to the court. Officers may be required to testify in court as to their findings and recommendations. Probation officers usually work with either adults or juveniles exclusively. Only in small, usually rural jurisdictions do probation officers counsel both adults and juveniles. Occasionally, in the Federal courts system, probation officers may undertake the job of a pretrial services officer.
Pretrial services officers conduct pretrial investigations and make bond recommendations for defendants.
Correctional treatment specialists work in correctional institutions (jails and prisons) or in parole or probation agencies. In jails and prisons, they evaluate the progress of inmates. They also work with inmates, probation officers, and other agencies to develop parole and release plans. Their case reports are provided to the appropriate parole board when their clients are eligible to be released. In addition, they plan educational and training programs to provide offenders with job skills, and counsel offenders either individually or in groups regarding their coping skills, anger management skills, and drug or sexual abuse. They usually write treatment plans and summaries for each client. Correctional treatment specialists working in parole and probation agencies perform many of the same duties as their counterparts who work in correctional institutions. Correctional treatment specialists may also be known as case managers or drug treatment specialists.
Criminal justice social workers make recommendations to courts; prepare presentencing assessments; and provide services to prison inmates, parolees, probationers, and their families.
Substance abuse social workers counsel drug and alcohol abusers as they recover from their dependencies. They also arrange for other services that may help clients find employment or get training. They generally are employed in substance abuse treatment and prevention programs.
Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs enforce the law on the county level. Sheriffs are usually elected to their posts and perform duties similar to those of a local or county police chief. Sheriffs' departments tend to be relatively small, most having fewer than 25 sworn officers. A deputy sheriff in a large agency will have law enforcement duties similar to those of officers in urban police departments. Nationwide, about 40 percent of full-time sworn deputies are uniformed officers assigned to patrol and respond to calls, 12 percent are investigators, 30 percent are assigned to jail-related duties, and 11 percent perform court-related duties, with the balance in administration. Police and sheriffs' deputies who provide security in city and county courts are sometimes called bailiffs.
State police officers (sometimes called State troopers or highway patrol officers) arrest criminals Statewide and patrol highways to enforce motor vehicle laws and regulations. Uniformed officers are best known for issuing traffic citations to motorists who violate the law. At the scene of accidents, they may direct traffic, give first aid, and call for emergency equipment. They also write reports used to determine the cause of the accident. State police officers are frequently called upon to render assistance to other law enforcement agencies, especially those in rural areas or small towns.