Probation Parole Pretrial and Community Services

The primary goal of adult probation is to assist offenders with pretrial services and to rehabilitate convicted individuals. Probation offices also prepare presentence reports and recommend possible sentences to the court. The department may collect restitution payments, place offenders in community service, conduct drug and alcohol education and counseling programs, perform alcohol and drug screening, and provide various levels of supervision from basic to more-intensive types, such as house arrest and electronic monitoring.

Other community services might be included in the courthouse, such as indigent screening, guardian ad litem, psychological testing, driving school, drug and alcohol testing, domestic violence unit, and alternative dispute resolution programs.

Access to the probation, parole, and community services office should be through the public circulation zones. Many probation offices conduct classes or hold counseling programs in the evening, and provision must be made for after-hours access to the probation offices.

The adult probation office should be first and foremost accessible to the public. It is desirable to have the office located near the main courthouse entrance or on the lower floors because of the high volume of public traffic involved. In some jurisdictions, adult probation offices conduct interviews after regular business hours. If extended operational hours are adopted in an office located in the courthouse, after-hours circulation must be planned with restricted access to other parts of the building.

On occasion, the office will need to be located outside the main court facility due to space constraints. In such instances, it is useful to plan a satellite intake office within the facility, which would receive offenders sentenced to probation immediately after their appearance in court.

The design and image of a probation, parole, and community services office should be similar to a general office setting. Often, these agencies will be designed with the professional staff offices surrounding an interior service core consisting of clerical staff, filing areas, and interview rooms.

All work and waiting areas should have natural lighting. This promotes a more pleasant environment for both the probationer and staff. There should be a quiet and relaxing atmosphere because of the stressful nature of the work.

Probation offices should be furnished with a desk, credenza, bookcase, several chairs, and a filing cabinet. Equipment will include a personal computer with keyboard and video display monitor, telephone, and printer.

The reception area should be furnished with several chairs and small table. The receptionist should have a desk with personal computer, printer, and display monitor. Space may be provided for a filing cabinet.

All areas of the office should be accessible to persons with disabilities.

Security for an adult probation office would include a secured cashiering station, including duress alarm. There should be one main entrance, directing persons to a central reception area under the supervision of the receptionist. Duress alarms should be located at the receptionist's desk to signal the central security unit in case of trouble.

The typical probation, parole, and community services office will require workstations for specific functions or programs. At a minimum, these include administration, pretrial services, community services, and probation and parole. Probation officers require that their conversations with clients be private and confidential. To accomplish this, agents should have either a private office or a shared office with designated interview rooms. Clerical staff can use partitioned work stations, often in a pooled setting, easily accessible to all agents. Other requirements include a large waiting area, cashiering station for collecting restitution payments, conference/training room, adequate file and storage areas, a toilet for urinalysis testing, a test lab, copier area, and break area.

It should be assumed that every work station, or office, will require a computer workstation with video display monitor(s), a printer, and document scanner. Many workstations will require dual monitors. Other devices that may need to be accommodated include telephone, phone chargers, battery chargers, and computer tablets. Each workstation will require a minimum of two quadriplex electrical outlets and one dedicated computer power receptacle, two data jacks and one phone jack (3 CAT6 lines). Specialized workstations may require additional electrical outlets. Because of the heat generated by electrical equipment, steps should be taken to ensure that equipment is cooled. Plans should include room for considerable growth in electrical demand.