As a component of the federal judiciary responsible for community corrections, the federal
probation and pretrial services system is fundamentally committed to protecting the public and assisting in the fair administration of justice.
United States probation officers are community corrections professionals who serve as officers of
the court and as agents of the U.S. Parole Commission. They are responsible for the supervision of persons conditionally released to the community by the courts, the Parole Commission, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and military authorities. Officers recommend and implement conditions of release and monitor offenders’ compliance with those conditions. Officers also work with offenders to facilitate their reintegration into the community as law-abiding and productive members of society.
Supervision is a dynamic process throughout which officers are to keep informed and––consistent
with the conditions of release and individual circumstances––intervene with strategies designed to
manage risk and provide offenders with the tools and social services they may require to improve
their conduct and condition. It is through such intervention in higher risk cases that officers further
the goal of public safety during the period of supervision and beyond.
Officers carry out these responsibilities by assessing the risks, needs and strengths of each offender to determine the appropriate level of supervision. They use skills from various disciplines to simultaneously monitor and, as necessary, control and correct offender behavior. These include the investigative skills of law enforcement and the treatment and service-delivery skills of social
workers. Investigative skills are used for the primary purpose of planning for success rather than
documenting failure. The primary focus of treatment and service-delivery skills is to improve
circumstances that are linked to criminal behavior (e.g., substance abuse; mental health;
employment; education; family/community support).
Officers maintain awareness of the behavior of those they supervise and, depending on the
circumstances and conditions of the case, implement restrictive and correctional strategies to
encourage pro-social behavior and facilitate positive change. This multidimensional role does not
mean that each officer is expected to be an expert in all areas. Rather, officers are to serve as
participating case managers, aware of the strengths and limitations of their role, and knowledgeable of the range of expertise available in their offices and communities.
Officers exercise their authority judiciously, using only those supervision strategies that are
sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to accomplish sentencing purposes in the individual case.
They treat all offenders, colleagues, and community partners with dignity and respect. Establishing
rapport and maintaining a dialogue with offenders, family members, employers, community service providers and others is the fundamental work of the supervision officer. Inquiring, listening and assessing are his or her primary tools.