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    J_doh's Avatar
    J_doh Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Sep 1, 2006, 01:25 PM
    Probation Officer dilemma
    My 19-year-old son is currently on probation. He is living at home with his father and I, and we are trying to give him encouragement and support in order to comply with the regulations set forth by the court. When he was arrested (he stole a 4-wheeler) we decided the best thing for him was to let him stay in jail awaiting his trial (about 4 months) so we did not bail him out. He seemed to learn his lesson. His drug/alcohol tests have always been negative, and he seems to be genuinely trying to get his life straightened out.

    My question is this: He seems to have somewhat of a hostile probation officer, and is now very disillusioned by her actions. Does he have any options in being appointed a new PO? If so, how does he go about requesting this and from whom?

    Recently, there was another theft in our county of a 4-wheeler, and a deputy came to our house, informed us of this, and we let him search our property for it. Of course, he found nothing. Two days ago, the PO and an unidentified person came to our house and asked my son to step outside with her. When I asked her if there was anything wrong, she said "no, everything is fine". After she left, my son told me that she asked him to come to a meeting that afternoon to discuss this recent theft. When he came home, he told me that there were police officers present at the meeting, and he was questioned by all those present. His PO said that she knew he had done this crime, as it was similar to what he had done before. The following day, his PO called and requested another meeting in the afternoon. They said they were going to make him take a lie-detector test, and that there was someone who was swearing out a statement that would prove his guilt. Through all this, he proclaims his innocence, and I believe that until there is positive proof otherwise. He asked for a lawyer, and they let him go. He said they told him of his rights, but I'm not sure if it was an actual Miranda reading or not.

    Because we are not 'in the loop', we don't know all that transpired in these meetings. I would like very much for us to be involved with his meetings with his probation officer, since he is living under our roof, for various reasons; we'd like to be able to offer suggestions to her for things that might help my son plan for the future and get through this probation experience successfully (educational, life skills, vocational training programs, psychological testing and/or counselling, etc) but she seems not to be interested in guiding him in any positive direction.

    Again, does he have the right to ask for a different Probation Officer, and if not, is there anything he can do to get on some sort of positive track with her?

    Thanks so much for any advice.

    Jdoh
    Missouri
    s_cianci's Avatar
    s_cianci Posts: 5,472, Reputation: 760
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    #2

    Sep 1, 2006, 04:58 PM
    Talk with an attorney, one with experience in juvenile law matters if possible. I'm not sure that getting a new PO appointed mid-stream is an option but it does sound like her behavior is crossing the line. An attorney could advise you if filing some sort of complaint is feasible and how to go about doing so. Your son was convicted of one crime but that doesn't make him any more culpable for any others as he's still innocent until proven guilty. The POs job is to make sure that your son is adhering to the conditions of his probation. From what you've described here it certainly sounds like he is. It is NOT her job to prosecute him for other, unrelated crimes.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,301, Reputation: 7692
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    #3

    Sep 1, 2006, 05:16 PM
    First this is not a juvenile matter, he is 19 and an adult.

    Next of course they don't have to read him his maranda rights if they don't want to, but any answer he gives him can not be used against him.

    Questioning by the probation officer though is considered very different since he signed a lot of his personal rights away to be on probation.
    In fact the probation officer most likely could have searched your property without a warrant ( in many states)

    But I doubt if they could make him take a lie detector test ( esp since they don't hold up as evidence in court)

    Next of course he should never, ( NEVER) be questioned by the police without an attorney.

    But it is most likely not the probation officer, most likely the police are using her to put pressure on him. He since he was found guilty of the one crime will be for years the first person they come and shake down and suspect if any crime similar or any crime happens in your area.

    And he is an adult now and you are not allowed in the meetings unless the police or probation officer allows it, ( which they won't)

    And probation officers don't do education, or training programs or counseling, this is for him to do on his own. To any probation officer he will be a criminal who got caught and is just time till he does it again and they want to be there to keep him straight. You have a completely wrong idea of what the US probation services does.
    excon's Avatar
    excon Posts: 21,482, Reputation: 2992
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    #4

    Sep 1, 2006, 06:12 PM
    Hello j:

    The Padre is right. You are confusing the probation department with a social agency. They're not. They're cops. They are not trying to help him. They are not trying to keep him out of jail. As a matter of fact, the harder they are, the more quick they advance. They are not his friend.

    The more quick you grasp, that the relationship is adversarial, the more quick you can help your son.

    Yes, it's absolutely possible to get a new PO. However, from what you've described, his present PO doesn't appear to have violated any of his rights or procedures. Just because she's a *****, isn't going to cut it. As a matter of fact, they'll probably give her a raise.

    Have your son ask for a copy of the policy and procedures manual for the probation department. It will spell out in detail, what is expected of the probation officer. Document everything that happens. When and if she violates the department's own rules (and they all do, of course) then he'll have a case.

    IF she's stepping over the line, simply by asking for the rules, may put her on notice that she is dealing with serious people and that she needs to watch her step. Hopefully, that's what will happen.

    excon
    J_doh's Avatar
    J_doh Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #5

    Sep 1, 2006, 09:42 PM
    s_cianci: Thanks for answering my post. I appreciate your time.

    At this time, we canít afford an attorney, so Iím limited to searching for reliable information on the internet. I donít really want to file a complaint at this time as this might do more harm than good, but if this situation escalates, an attorney will be a necessity. At this point, I donít even know if there is anything to complain about, as her behavior may well be what is considered Ďthe normí.

    Iím all for him paying the price for what heís done, but he shouldnít be hampered in his progress by one who is supposed to be supervising him. And from what Iím gathering so far, his Probation Officer is supposed to be working closely with him, helping to guide him in the right direction instead of alienating him. Thatís whatís so bizarre to me. Every other person Iíve come in contact with from the beginning of this fiasco has been very professional in their manner, from deputies, clerks, his Public Defender, etc. His initial PO was very involved and helpful, but was transferred a couple of months ago. When he was assigned this new PO, things changed. And not for the better, Iím afraid... Iíve got a lot of research to do before we decide what, if anything, to do.

    Thanks again, I appreciate it!
    ;)
    J_doh's Avatar
    J_doh Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #6

    Sep 1, 2006, 09:46 PM
    Fr_Chuck: Thanks for taking the time to answer my post, I appreciate it.

    << first this is not a juvenile matter, he is 19 and an adult.>>
    Youíre correct, this is an adult matter.

    << Questioning by the probation officer though is considered very different since he signed a lot of his personal rights away to be on probation. In fact the probation officer most likely could have searched your property without a warrant ( in many states)
    But I doubt if they could make him take a lie detector test ( esp since they don't hold up as evidence in court)
    Next of course he should never, ( NEVER) be questioned by the police without an attorney.>>

    Questioning by a group of police officers, with his probation officer in this non-neutral position, telling him they were going to make him take a lie-detector test, telling him they KNOW he did it, ďwe can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard wayĒ, he of course was very shaken. The second day of questioning, he requested an attorney, and shortly thereafter, the questioning stopped.

    << But it is most likely not the probation officer, most likely the police are using her to put pressure on him. He since he was found guilty of the one crime will be for years the first person they come and shake down and suspect if any crime similar or any crime happens in your area.>>

    Iíll search my resources for information on the duties/responsibilities/boundaries/ethics of Probation Officers, because your statement made me wonder how cooperative they must be with the police in interrogating a probationer. I was under the assumption that POís were somewhat neutral in that theyíre not detectives, police, lawyers, etc. hence the name ĎProbation Officerí. And yes, my son knows that (probably) for the rest of his life, he will be suspected in any similar crime in the area. Itís not fair, but it happens that way. (As unfair as that seems, I think it may serve as incentive to stay as far away from trouble as he can).

    <<And probation officers don't do education, or training programs or counseling, this is for him to do on his own. To any probation officer he will be a criminal who got caught and is just time till he does it again and they want to be there to keep him straight. You have a completely wrong idea of what the US probation services does.>>

    From the "Rules and Regulations Governing the Conditions of Probation, Parole and Conditional Release" via our state DOC website: http://www.doc.mo.gov/division/prob/prob.htm

    "Your conditions of supervision are the set of rules which you and your P&P Officer will use in working together to help you successfully complete your period of supervision. If you form a close relationship with your P&P Officer and can talk freely with him/her, then there can be a mutual feeling of trust and you should be able to follow these rules without much difficulty. You, your family and/or supervisor need to discuss nay problems that you might have that can affect your supervision or acceptance by the local community.

    Minor problems that are not discussed with your P&P Officer almost always become serious problems. It is the person who does not confide in his/her Officer and is not willing to discuss the problems that he/she is facing who usually ends up violating the conditions of supervision and being referred to the Court or the Parole Board for further action.

    Remember, your Probation and Parole Officer desires that you successfully complete your supervision. It is the officer's job to help you do so."

    From the same website, there are a great many links describing the various services and programs available for offenders of all degrees. Throughout the literature on the site, references are made stressing the importance of working successfully with one's PO in whatever strategy he/she plans for one's individual case. Am I naÔve, or isn't it actually part of the job to get to know the probationer well enough to set forth an effective plan or other requirements needed for him/her to A) get through the probation period successfully, and B) learn how to be a part of the community?

    Looks like Iíve got a lot more research to do...
    ;)

    Thanks again, Fr_Chuck, for your time!
    J_doh's Avatar
    J_doh Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    Sep 1, 2006, 09:48 PM
    Excon: Thank you for your time, I appreciate your input.

    It sounds like youíve had some bad experiences in the legal system, I feel quite naÔve after reading your reply!

    I like your idea of having my son ask his PO for a copy of HER policy and procedures manual for the probation department, very bold thinking! Keeping in mind that he has 4+ years to endure with her, Iíll weigh the advantages of that and add it to my list of strategies... ;) (OTOH, I might just seek one out on my own for now! Iíll check my state DOC website for a PDF copy).

    I will attempt to document everything as accurately as possible, great suggestion.

    And again, excon, I appreciate your reply, thanks.
    ;)
    binx44's Avatar
    binx44 Posts: 1,028, Reputation: 88
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    #8

    Sep 2, 2006, 05:03 AM
    I went through the whole horrid probation officer. If your son does have too many problems I am pretty darn sure you can arrange to switch it I had to switch mine because I felt like she was too hostile to me.. honesly in my opinon male probation officers are not as uptight or "mean" try talking to his probation officer about the fact that you guys want to switch and if she says she can't help in any way or won't do anything then go higher up. Hope I helped
    J_doh's Avatar
    J_doh Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #9

    Sep 2, 2006, 09:48 AM
    Hi Michelle:

    I'm sorry you had a bad experience with your PO, and I appreciate your sharing information with me.

    The first PO my son had was a male, late 20s, and strict but fair. He was grateful that we showed an interest in my son's situation, and encouraged us to contact him at any time with concerns or suggestions. Very positive and strong personality, and I admired his dedication. This present PO, however, is completely different, and I don't know whether it's because she's female, but she seems arrogant and hardened... I just don't foresee a good outcome if she continues to be assigned as son's PO. I'd like to know the proper 'chain of command' in case this escalates, any ideas on that?

    Thanks for your time!
    J
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,301, Reputation: 7692
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    #10

    Sep 2, 2006, 11:38 AM
    I worked in the system for years, and if the police find someone is on probation or parole the first person they go to is the probation officer or parole officer because they don't have to give the person all of the same rights they do.

    And probation and parole officers are all still law enforcement people, they are state certified law enforcement officers and most of these positions are filled by people who used to be police officers or at least have some police experience.

    And believe me a few may be helpful and a lot of the DOC rules and regs say all sort of things about all the great things the programs will do for you, but believe me they have not since the 80's. I was hired by the Justice Department in the 80's to hellp with the training of various prisoners for jobs in the "real" world.
    But most of these programs where short lived. I have since worked with various police and correction departments and in return worked along side many probatoin and parole people.

    And believe me getting them into any programs except perhaps AA or any program that the judge ordered is is not something that normally happens.
    And yes almost all have an attitude after a couple of years on the job because they get lied to and find the people cheating the system so often they just expect eveyone to be like that.
    binx44's Avatar
    binx44 Posts: 1,028, Reputation: 88
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    #11

    Sep 8, 2006, 09:19 AM
    Hey. Try checking out the American Correctional ***. As they may know how to help you with your delema... I personally think that female PO's are always more arrogant and hardened... though I do know from experience that people who have had to deal with a po that is arrogant and hardened tend to not do as well with their probationary rules... try talking to someone at the ACA and explain the problem... then ask if they know anything you guys can do besides file a complaint about the woman... hope I can help


    Here is the website address http://www.aca.org/


    Good luck
    J_doh's Avatar
    J_doh Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #12

    Sep 8, 2006, 09:40 PM
    Hi binx,

    Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

    I've found some great resources this week, and with the replies I've gotten on here, I think I'm on my way to solving this problem.

    As far as the two-day interrogations I spoke of in my initial post, we've heard nothing more about it from the PO or the sheriff's department, so apparently they found out my son didn't have any connection with the incident. He did have one regular meeting this week with his PO and was pretty frustrated afterwards, so we're keeping notes on these meetings *just in case*. Apparently, her boss walked in during this meeting, so PO started raising her voice and chastising him for something he didn't quite understand (she went off on another subject altogether). Very odd behavior, she is trying to impress someone maybe?

    Thanks again for the link!
    J
    binx44's Avatar
    binx44 Posts: 1,028, Reputation: 88
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    #13

    Sep 11, 2006, 06:52 AM
    No problem providing you with the link.. I hope it helps you a lot.. I do agree with you there she may be trying to impress her boss but is brining your son into a bad situation by sticking him in the middle of it.. the note taking is a very good idea... good luck yet again
    excon's Avatar
    excon Posts: 21,482, Reputation: 2992
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    #14

    Sep 23, 2006, 07:59 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by J_doh
    Excon: Thank you for your time, I appreciate your input.

    It sounds like you've had some bad experiences in the legal system, I feel quite naive after reading your reply!
    Hello again, J:

    Yes, IT was a bad experience. But it is for everybody, and it's worse for most. Don't lose any sleep over me. I cruised...

    Before I left you, I wanted to mention your son's right against self incrimination once again. Even though your son is on probation, he does not have to snitch on himself - ever. He does not have to talk with the police - not one word. I recommend that he never does!

    excon

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