[deleted]

Comments: 210 • Responses: 77  • Date: 

thedezz19 karma

As someone who is looking to get into law enforcement. What advice can you give me on how to start the process?

drundge14 karma

Not sure why someone downvoted you. Have an upvote!

Get a four year degree and get it in something you can fall back on. If you want to go into straight up law enforcement, realize that it is extremely stressful and has a high burnout rate. Make your degree something you'd enjoy if law enforcement doesn't go right for you. Most PD's absolutely don't care what degree you had. Get physically fit and stick with it. Go over to officer.com and check their recruit forums. Military experience can certainly help. Do a ride-a-long and ask questions.

That is my advice if you want law enforcement. But realize my job is only maybe 40% law enforcement.

Esc_ape_artist17 karma

What's the best/worst excuse that someone has given you for failing to comply with probation that landed them back in jail?

Have there been any really sad cases you've dealt with that you felt the person totally got screwed, but you had to enforce the conditions of the probation/parole anyway?

Thanks for the AMA, you officers are really spread too thin!

drundge27 karma

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zebra3215611 karma

she probably meant sudafed not benadryl.

drundge4 karma

Yup, I'm sure that was what she was aiming for. She definitely couldn't come up with a coherent excuse.

[deleted]5 karma

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drundge5 karma

Hey, if you came in my office with that I'd do a quick Google on it and say, "Cool. We're done here"

Esc_ape_artist5 karma

Sounds like a lot of your workload is covering crimes that are minor, but I guess that's why they're out on parole and not in jail. Also interesting to note that even a minor crime ($12 shorts) can get heavy-handed punishment. (Not implying that crimes shouldn't be prosecuted or your work is easy)

drundge8 karma

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sumguysr1 karma

How does a person who tried to kill someone end up on probation?

drundge1 karma

My bad, need a correction. I have several on for assault with intent to cause serious bodily injury as well as several for assault with a deadly weapon. Actually also had a guy on for felony death by motor vehicle (this was plead down to from a 2nd Deg Homicide charge.)

sumguysr1 karma

I think my question stands?

drundge2 karma

Well pretty much because those crimes are attached to state statutes that allow for a community sanction to be imposed rather than prison or jail (an "active" sentence). The laws allow for it in certain circumstances (mitigating vs. aggravating factors) and the court can order it.

sumguysr1 karma

So do you think it's appropriate in those sorts of cases you've seen?

drundge2 karma

To be honest, yes. But then again, I'm not the one passing judgment, that's for the court. But the few I've had on probation have been model probationers. They completed all of their conditions, pay on time, report on time, and maintain good communication. Maybe they realized what a freaking huge break they got and realize how much prison time they have if they get their probation revoked. Not sure.

For example, I had a guy who was on probation for death by vehicle. He was able to stay in the community, keep his job at a good car dealership (yeah yeah, a bit ironic), moved in with his family, got engaged a bit later, and paid back his restitution to the family of the deceased. That seems a lot better to me than a prison sentence that all taxpayers will foot the bill on. Then we'll keep footing the bill when he can't get a job when released from prison and other such similar things.

But those are only the cases I've seen. Certainly there are those out there that don't deserve to be back in the community but are. I do have several that I feel that way about, but they aren't for nearly as serious crimes as death by vehicle.

baboongauntlet15 karma

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drundge12 karma

I do chastise if required and if I think they'll respond to it. Sometimes an individual really will respond to a harsh talking to. Sometimes it is the only one they'll ever get in life (ie., mom and dad weren't there or never cared enough to fuss). I don't lecture my offenders though. I'll cut right to why they wrong, what I'm going to do because of it, and how they can correct it in the future.

I rarely give "life lessons" to anyone older than me. There is no way they want to hear a late 20's officer tell them about life when they've been living it for 50+ years, and in conditions probably far more disadvantaged than my own. But sometimes the younger ages or similar ages to me will really respond to it.

silence15459 karma

What the worst repeat offender you've dealt with?

drundge13 karma

Hmm, tough to call. I have one fella that has a record stretching back to the late 60's without a break. But he knows the system so well now that he'll usually do what you say. He'll just end up committing a new crime though.

The worst are the serial absconders. They'll be placed on probation and within 72 hours, they are nowhere to be seen. And the court keeps putting them on probation even though they've avoided supervision four or five times in a row. Tracking them down is a pain in the ass and I have one right now who fits that pattern.

sumguysr2 karma

Why do the courts repeatedly put such people back on probation? What sorts of charges/convictions are you used to seeing for such cases?

drundge2 karma

The courts do it because of the limited power of judges. They have their structured sentencing and have only some limited discretion. So they check their general statutes and roll with whatever they are allowed to.

For the repeats, it's usually assaults (usually on females), drug charges, driving while license revoked, and selling different controlled substances. When it comes to selling, it is very easy to get charged with a crazy trafficking charge, then the narcotics team makes you roll over on other sellers to get a reduced charge from the DA. So we end up with a ton of lower sellers that ratted out others in return for probation instead of prison.

hitlerchernobyl9 karma

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drundge9 karma

I have not, actually. I've had a few that had computers involved somewhat in their crime (identify theft), but never anything direct. Some of our sex offenders use computers for child pornography, and in that case, we can usually get a little assistance from the US Marshals to conduct some forensic computer scanning to monitor their use.

If someone slips up and is honest with me, I'll usually go with the least punitive measure. Sometimes it could be me saying, "Look... since you were honest, I'm not going to drug screen you this month. But as of this day, you are warned. So get it out of your system and let's aim for a negative drug screen in 30 days." Or sometimes it could be me referring them to drug treatment instead of a full blown violation hearing. There are plenty of options. I respect honesty more than anything, so I always try and work with honest offenders.

hitlerchernobyl-3 karma

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drundge3 karma

Well, because he is a minor, it might be difficult to reach his PO. Laws for juveniles restrict a lot of communication.

You can always try calling the main probation officer, let them know you have information regarding an offender and just leave it at that. We'll usually act on any new info.

[deleted]4 karma

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drundge1 karma

That's exactly what I was gonna ask. Why you didn't get federal probation. Dodged a bullet on that one, good!

I have several cases like yours. I get kinda sad when I have to terminate them successfully, because I fear I could end up with a high risk/violent offender who hates my guts in replacement. Ugh.

wicki_5 karma

Hmm. I was on probation for a little bit when I was 17. I was always a good kid, never got into trouble, but I acted out and shop lifted a few times. Even my probation officer kept asking me "WHY are you here? You're a good kid! Good grades, parents don't know what's going on with you. You don't belong here!"

I wish I could remember his name. I'd like to find out if he's still working and go back to let him know I've kept my nose clean and that, although my life isn't perfect, I've stayed out of trouble. I bet he doesn't get a lot of thank yous.

Do you feel like your job is under-appreciated and thankless? Do you have moments where you impact a positive change in the people you work with that makes it all worth it at the end of the day? Are those good moments a rarity? Thanks for what you do, and please keep up the good work! If I hadn't had that intervention all those years ago my life may have turned out very differently.

drundge3 karma

If you went back and that PO was still there, I could tell you that it'd mean a lot if you told him thanks or even just a simple, "Here's how my life is now". I hope I have that effect on even one person throughout my career.

The job is definitely under-appreciated. You don't get kids saying, "I wanna be a probation officer" like they'd say, "I wanna be a cop!" Most people don't even know what probation is because we're very behind-the-scenes. But I like that to a certain extent. I never wanted a flashy job or a job that was too much in the public spotlight.

I think I've had moments where I made a positive impact. A few probationers have told me that I was very fair and open with them. These moments are definitely rare. My chief told me when I got hired, "I think after 15+ years of being a PO, I can look back and honestly say I've changed the lives of maybe 5 or 6 people. And I mean completely changed their life." Big changes are rare, but you can count small victories every week if you look for it. I don't think any PO gets into this field without the idea that they want to help someone.

wicki_1 karma

I would like to go back and find out if that PO is still working there, but I've no idea what his name was and, as I understand it, I'd likely have to pay some fees to access my old records in order to find out the guy's name in the first place. Perhaps it'd be worth it, though, as I'm pretty sure almost everyone he's worked with hasn't improved much over these many years (Believe me, I saw them and spoke to some of them!)

There is an officer whose name I recall, who had really helped me out a few years ago, and I had been meaning to go back and find out if I could speak with him to thank him. I'm also fairly certain no one has ever come back to him to say "THANKS!"

If you've any suggestions on how I can go back to my town's municipal/police building to find these things out I would very much appreciate it. I know that Parole/Probation officers and Police officers in general often feel that they work a thankless job :(

drundge2 karma

I'd just give a call to the probation office and ask to speak with a supervisor. Google should have the phone number of the probation office. Explain your history and your desire to say thanks. I can't think of a supervisor who wouldn't dig up records to see if that PO is still working there. In my state, we keep records for a LONG time. They're out there somewhere unless that department has a policy that destroys data. I doubt it though. Never know when it may be needed.

wicki_1 karma

Thank you again for the help. I happen to live quite near to my township's municipal and police building, so I could probably go there in person and ask about this.

drundge1 karma

Awesome. Good luck!

StavTheSwole4 karma

Alright, here's one. I got arrested for selling pot almost three years ago. I was young, dumb and in college. I got charged with a felony, but part of the terms of my plea was that I get it dropped to a misdemeanor after I complete drug classes and have a perfect probation.

I did all of those things. I did the drug classes the next week and got early termination from probation for being so goddamn perfect. When I submitted my form to the judge (who checks with my PO) to get the felony dropped down, he denied the motion after supposedly talking with probation officer. What the fuck, man. She won't return my calls and I have been nothing but awesome with her.

How do I fix this? It's a weird situation.

drundge3 karma

Wow... that sucks. If the judge denied the motion, you may be screwed. Did you have any attorney represent you in this matter? Sounds like a deferred prosecution case. If that is so, by statute the judge must dismiss the charges as agreed in the original plea.

But again, this strays into the area of law, and I am most certainly not an attorney. Consult with an attorney!!

beesyf3 karma

I'm actually very interested in this line of work. What are your favorite aspects of your job? Any advice for someone that might be looking to get started in that career field? Thanks for the AMA!

drundge3 karma

My favorite part is that I set my own schedule and have very little micromanaging from my supervisor. I can use a lot of discretion. I also love balancing the roles of law enforcement with social work. On the one hand, I am more than happy to make an arrest or dig through an basement during a search. But I also love making real connections with people and building rapport.

In fact, that is my one warning to anyone interested in this field. If you want to be making arrests everyday and busting down doors, look elsewhere. If you never want to have to touch someone, go into awful houses, or just want to be Mr. Friendly, look elsewhere. Balance is everything and the best PO's I've ever met have that balance down to a science.

nightshade1083 karma

Do you supervise a group of young offenders as they carry out their community service?

drundge1 karma

No, they are really only supervised by the agency requesting the work. I just monitor their hours and when they complete it.

BrentMcClowd3 karma

If someone commits a misdemeanor or small crime and is put on probation, does it entail they have to be sober for the entirety of probation? Or is it true that that only applies if your charge was drug/alcohol related or a felony?

drundge4 karma

In my state, anyone placed on probation is subject to drug screening. So it really doesn't matter what you crime is. Alcohol is fine so long as the judge didn't specifically prohibit it (which they may do in cases of DUI or similar).

Aregisteredusername3 karma

What illegal drugs, if any, do you consider to not truly be a problem?

drundge6 karma

Any mind-altering substance can be a problem. It depends on what else is going on in the life of that person. For me, there is no universal "no problem" drug.

Confuzn3 karma

A few questions... You said you're somewhat jaded on the job. Do you believe that you're generally pretty good about spotting the liars? Also, I'm not sure if you know Portugal's drug laws, but if you do (or if you're willing to look them up) what are your views on them? Lastly, you said you work in the southeast US. Without giving away too much information, is your area a very conservative one? Are they really tough on things like marijuana? Thanks!

drundge1 karma

I think my liar-spotting skills increase each day. But it's still difficult. You want to build rapport with offenders, but you can't JUST take them at their word unless they have established a good track record of it.

Hmm, I am very unfamiliar with any laws outside of the US, although I'd love to read up on other countries drug laws.

The area I work is really about 50/50 when looking at liberal vs conservative. Probably leaning towards conservative though.

Confuzn1 karma

Here is the wiki and here is a (rather one sided) article about the law if you're interested :) Thanks for answering the questions!

drundge1 karma

I'll absolutely read up on it! Thanks for the links.

alcheMistsz3 karma

Sorry if this question is silly. Just I don't know too much about how parole works, what do you base your decision on?

Also, have you ever been conflicted personally or emotionally that has affected your decision making at the time?

drundge9 karma

[deleted]

dude1871 karma

I personally dislike recommending jail/prison time due to positive drug screens.

Then I hope you abstain from that behavior entirely.

drundge1 karma

Entirely? You believe that no one should serve any amount of jail/prison time due to drug use?

devtherev2 karma

Would someone who refuses pharmaceuticals, but does have anxiety, depression, bipolar etc., and self medicates with marijuana have any defense for using while on probation? IF the person continued to use and were to get violated/revoked, but wanted to quit and comply with probation, would they still be at threat for jail time? What would convince the courts that this person does deserve a 3rd or 4th chance, when all they've done wrong is smoke marijuana? What's the chance that they'll just let them go after already 2 terms of 2 yrs probation, fines, and community service over a petty crime, or b/c they've smoked weed there is no chance at getting off due to the undeniable and prosecutable evidence? Thank you very much for doing one of these, it really does give insight from the probation officer's perspective. Truly appreciate you taking the time to respond to so many questions honestly, despite some possible ridicule, if there were any!

drundge2 karma

Nope. No defense in my state. We're about in the middle when it comes to marijuana laws, but still fairly punitive. It's a controlled substance, so there is no defense for use.

The chance of marijuana users avoiding jail is fairly high in my area. Judges don't want them in our already overcrowded jails. They will get case after case after case of probation. I generally end up working the most with marijuana users and will give them more time to try and abstain and get me negative drug screens. But I also tell them this almost verbatim:

"Look, marijuana is not physically addictive. So don't give me crap about how you can't live without it. I'll get you mental health services if you use because of that. Otherwise, if it's just for fun/boredom/whatever, stop now and let's work towards a negative drug screen. You aren't like the heroin addict who physically needs the next rush just to get up in the morning and halfway function. I'm not asking for a miracle, but in a couple months you should testing negative. And be free of marijuana at LEAST just for the time you're on probation. Get a new perspective from being sober from it. What you do when you're done is up to you. But if you continue smoking, you'll jeopardize your freedom. And hopefully freedom is more important than weed for the next x months"

devtherev1 karma

Agreed! I do truly appreciate your response, honesty, as well as down-to-earth understanding with this matter. And what would you suggest to someone who does need mental health services but just prefers to go without due to horrible health insurance, and all they want to do is prescribe drugs that they refuse to take? Also, what would you suggest to someone who still owes like 600 on their fines, and is about to get probation all over again? Should they pay? Since if you don't they don't seem to add it/roll it over to your new fines along with your new probation term? It's like they never even cared about it, they just reinstate the initial fine and write off what you owe on the last one. Why is that, and what incentive does a probationee in that situation have to pay that fine, that is gonna be considered void right after court? Shouldn't they keep that money and throw it towards there new fine? The fine question I'd really like answered, since I get the feeling your in PA, and these are questions pertaining to that state. You have been tremendously helpful, as well as insightful, I'm glad I've had this chance to ask you these questions. Again, thank you very much! And keep up your positive paroling/probationing, I think you can do a lot of good for those on probation! I hope you do encourage others to better themselves in many ways, would you be interested in helping to throw a program together, for prison as well as supervision, that is based on individuals finding purpose and passion in their lives through education, job & skill training, giving back to the community, and entrepreneurial opportunities?

drundge2 karma

Even if there are mental health issues at play (lack of services, poor insurance, etc), I still can't ever say to someone that it is acceptable to consume a controlled substance while on probation. That would be against my role as a probation officer. I would, however, work with any available resources to help them cease use. I always push my offenders away from primary care physicians who may not have the time or resources to dive into mental concerns (and therefore go straight to pharmaceuticals). I'll use up any available resources I have at my disposal to push someone away from marijuana as self-medication. In the end, is the marijuana really addressing ANY underlying mental health issues? I highly, highly doubt it. It's temporary relief at best.

I'm not sure about your question asking about the roll-over of fines. Each case of probation in my state is separate. So one can't really roll over into the other unless a judge specifically orders it to do so. The case can't expire unless in full compliance or the remaining money is moved into a civil lien or is remitted by the judge. I haven't seen anything like that (the rollover) in my state. Sorry I can't help ya on that one.

I'll tell you, I wish we had more programs in prison than we do. Some prisons are really great at GED programs and some vocational training. But there are still a lack of programs because prison is so expensive to begin with. Basic housing eats up money, so nothing is leftover for rehabilitation programs. EVERYTHING comes back to money, and when you're talking about corrections, no taxpayer and no politican wants to pay for it unless it's a new shiny jail/prison to show they're tough on crime or the closing of a jail/prison to show they're trying to save taxpayer money. It blows, man.

Destatsi2 karma

So... how much do ya make?

drundge1 karma

Not as much as other states. Upper 30's. But take into account where I live taxes are low as are property taxes and cost of living. It's liveable, but I still can't afford enough for a down payment on a house yet. Still renting for now. We start off 1000-2000/year higher than just about every police department/agency in the state though.

Destatsi1 karma

Thanks for the reply. Are you living by yourself? Wife and kids?

drundge1 karma

Working wife. No kids yet.

Adamtwentywun2 karma

What is your opinion on marijuana? My former probation officer would tell me he had nothing against it (also mentioned his brother in law was a smoker), and was just doing his job. How do most POs feel about it? Thanks for the AMA

drundge1 karma

Most PO's seem to hate that we have to deal with it. Unlike drugs like cocaine, heroin, etc, marijuana stays in your system forever, so it may take several drug screens to clear it out, even if the person has abstained and is really trying. That's aggravating. Most PO's don't like the legalization idea, but I can't think of one that isn't for decriminalizing the hell out of it. I'd really like my state to reduce the penalties for personal use (somewhere around 1 ounce or less).

And trust me, I'd rather deal with a stoner any day of the week over an alcoholic or meth head.

dude1871 karma

Most PO's don't like the legalization idea

You're merely tainted by having to deal with the worst of the worst, most of which smoke cannabis. It gives you a very skewed perception of the average cannabis user, which then leads you to inaccurate predictions about what the world really would be like if we ended prohibition.

drundge1 karma

No, it doesn't. I smoked marijuana during my senior year of high school and into my freshman year of college before I dove into criminal justice. I grew up with both the occasional user and the chronic abuser. I've had friends from all different cultures who were users (African American, white, hispanic, and asian). I've seen both very very occasional use and daily use. And now I see it as I work my job. I like to think I have a fairly open-minded view regarding marijuana.

TheCoolestCuban2 karma

I know you posted this a while ago so this'll probably get passed over, but on the off chance you see this, what is your personal oponion on marijuana use? Yes it's probably illegal in your state and you're not supposed to condone it, but as for you, what do you think? And on top of that, should it be legal?

drundge1 karma

I've answered this elsewhere. Can't find the link...

Big cliffnotes: I don't think America is mature enough for marijuana legalization yet, but I am 100% for heavy decriminalization.

ImagineAllTheKarma1 karma

Just curious why do you prefer decriminalization over legalization

drundge1 karma

I don't believe the US is mature enough for another vice at this time. Look at our horrible underage drinking statistics and compare them to other industrialized nations. I fully believe if we were to legalize marijuana, we (as a nation) would use it far more than just simple recreational use. Maybe one day we can manage this, but I just don't think our culture has the proper mindset for marijuana at this time.

metallicahomicide2 karma

I am on probation currently for DWAI. I have been good about not failing tests and all my court costs an fines were paid off on day one. I am trying to get off of probation early or into unsupervised probation just because the daily call/threat of a UA is quite stressful. How can I be upstanding in their eyes and get off early?

drundge2 karma

Generally, the only way you can be moved to unsupervised is if the original sentencing judge specifically ordered it or if you get an attorney and file a motion in court.

In my state, judges will never touch any DUI conviction and will not modify the original terms. But then again, my state is extremely punitive on DUI's. Depends on the state.

metallicahomicide2 karma

When should I get my lawyer to suggest this to the court and how should I go about it? I'm in Colorado btw.

drundge1 karma

If the motion has already been filed, I'd say to get an attorney ASAP. At least consult with them to discuss your options (if any). Remember, I'm not giving any legal advice though, haha.

metallicahomicide1 karma

The motion has not been filed. I have only been on probation 2 months. I have attended classes regularly, got a job, passed all UAs, and am doing my community service this weekend. Just wondering when is a good time to bring it up to my PO. Not looking for legal advice just don't want to try to get unsupervised too early and never get it or wait too long to try to get it.

drundge1 karma

Hmm, I wish I could give you better advice. But without seeing the original judgment, I don't think I could give quality answers. Any time is a good time to consult an attorney if you feel something is wrong.

FeatherC12 karma

I'm currently in school for a certificate in criminal justice and a bachelors in psychology to be a probation officer one day, what is your educational background?

drundge1 karma

I have a BA in Criminal Justice & Psychology (double major) and a MS in Criminal Justice and Criminology.

My state only requires a 4 year degree in some sort of social science to become a PO.

dudebro50002 karma

How do you feel about marijuana legalization?

drundge-1 karma

Answered above. Cliff notes: Don't think our nation is ready for marijuana, but totally in favor of decriminalization.

sumguysr1 karma

Why aren't we ready? What needs to happen before we will be?

drundge1 karma

That's the million (billion? trillion?) dollar question. I'd say we need a cultural change that only accepts drug use in young age (as in most individuals age out of the behavior) or in absolute moderation throughout life. There will always be addiction/excessive use, but we would need a culture that in majority only views drug use about the same as drinking a glass of wine/beer once a day. Look at our youth and adult alcoholism rates. We have a culture that pushes drinking in excess. Compare our behavior to other cultures who overall look down upon that (and yet have more lax laws). Maybe our behavior will change IF we legalize, but I doubt that. Our mindset is one of consumption and a "me first" attitude. If you don't think our American society has an entitlement problem, I think you need to take a step back. Until that changes, I very much dislike the idea of legalization of marijuana.

That's all very philosophical, but I do believe it to be true.

I could get into the arguments regarding the negative (and some positive) physical health issues regarding marijuana, but that just opens the debate even further.

dude1872 karma

So your reasoning for why we shouldn't legalize it is that everyone will do nothing but sit on their ass and get high?

Sorry, but that's nothing more than an irrational fear. Hell, even if that did happen for a few weeks, it would still be better than all the harms caused by the war on drugs.

drundge1 karma

That's a bit simplistic. Obviously I don't think it will turn us into a society of stoners or idiots, but I do think it'd have dramatically negative effects on those that are at most risk (criminals, low SES individuals and their families, minorities, etc). The war on drugs debate always gets brought up to anyone even somewhat inside the criminal justice system. I try to express my views quickly and concisely because this is just an AMA regarding my job. I could have a massive debate regarding just the war on drugs, drug policy, etc etc etc. I try to keep it simple because I don't have the patience of mind to get that deep into it in this AMA, even though I definitely feel strongly about and at my core do not agree with the war on drugs. Let me be honest, I don't agree with any damn government "war" on any idealistic subject. War on drugs, terrorism, poverty, etc. When you have a huge bureaucratic entity such as the government declare war on a very ambiguous and broad topic, it won't end up in the general public's favor.

dellcos2 karma

What percentage of your time is spent checking up on people that are on parole only for drugs? No theft or violence, just drugs.

drundge1 karma

Well, I have a few long-time probationers that have a history as long as you can imagine that is ONLY dealing drugs. They will never test positive, they'll pay their money, and they'll report on time and be very respectful.

I'm looking over my caseload now actually. Checking all that I have on for just simple possession or similar. Very few have backgrounds that are only drugs. If drugs are involved and the behavior continues, it's almost guaranteed at some point they'll steal and get caught. Larcenies are extremely common along with drug charges.

I have a few that are on their first case of probation and only have a paraphernalia charge or a possession charge. They're generally low risk. If the behavior can stop here, good chances I won't see them again. But those that continue drug use are almost guaranteed to catch another charge at some point.

blinker12 karma

So, usually, what are the reasons parole is revoked? (Particularly for repeat felons/addicts who are clearly not making an effort to comply with felony parole.) I ask because I've never been in trouble with the law, but someone I know is, and I'm wondering how bad she has to get before they put her back in jail. She's a drug felon and honestly jail is the best place for her. Shes been out 2 months. She is homeless, often high, and and is pretty quickly going back to her old ways. Her PO doesn't seam to care what shes doing. Examples include smoking weed, doing meth, leaving the state, not staying where she was paroled out to, not having a job, and not paying child support. What does she have to do to have her parole revoked? Is it subject to the 'opinion' of the PO?

drundge3 karma

It's a bit more complicated than this depending on the scenario, but in my state, the only way you can be revoked is:

1.) New criminal conviction (misdemeanor or felony)

2.) Absconding supervision

However, if the original sentence is less than 90 days, we can send individuals to jail for up to 90 days for only minor violations (drug screens, failure to report, etc etc). We can send them to jail for 90 days up to three different times if they are on felony probation.

It totally depends on the policies of the specific department as well as the statutory guidelines from that state.

bobsack2 karma

While in college I was very interested in this profession. I was a Sociology major, and it was one of the professions they listed as a possible career you could have with a degree in Sociology. Unfortunately I was never able to get one of the internships in law enforcement my university offered, so I sort of got discouraged... My question is what was the path you took to get your job (i.e. a degree in x, or police academy etc.)?

drundge4 karma

I have a B.A. in Criminal Justice and an M.S. in Criminal Justice and Criminology. I kind of regret this though. I should have gotten a backup degree such as public administration or something in the IT field.

For my state, the job only requires that you have a four year degree in a social-science type field. Law enforcement experience does NOT count, actually.

I went from graduate school (focus on research) to unemployed for about five months. Then I got a job as a detention officer at a juvenile facility, then onwards to adult probation. But we have officers from all different fields of work.

DoctorPiggey2 karma

[deleted]

drundge1 karma

Generally "Driving while license revoked" is the silliest/worst. To me, I understand WHY, but I find it ridiculous that they get supervised probation. Just give them a fine and unsupervised probation and stop wasting both our time.

Worst is probably serious child abuse. I've had two and they both should have been in prison for a long time rather than back in the community.

33p2 karma

Have you ever encountered a "sociopath"-type client? One who did not appear to have any moral center or care for people at all? Who would be capable of doing anything if it benefited them?

drundge2 karma

Thankfully, no. I've met some who are excellent and believable liars. I'm met some who come up with the most amazing rationalizations for their behavior. People who truly believe the world is set against them. Those are the difficult ones. I've met some of the most absolutely selfish individuals ever. For example, one parolee who shook her baby to within an inch of it's life. Then choked it, then slapped him so hard he bled. It is amazing he didn't die. He is now permanently physically and mentally disabled. He is eight and can form about three or four different sentences. And she denies it all against three other witnesses and claims she'll get him back one day. She truly showed no remorse because she honestly didn't believe she did anything wrong. Ugh... I'm glad I don't supervise her anymore.

33p1 karma

thanks for answering! you've been going all day @[email protected]

drundge1 karma

Hell, when you do an AMA, you might as well go for a solid day, right? :)

GadgetQueen2 karma

Fellow probation officer, here. Kudos man, your answers are well thought out. I've thought about doing an AMA myself, but you beat me to it :)

For all the folks that want to go into this profession, do your research and make sure that it is REALLY what you want to do. If its the job for you, then its a whirlwind of people, court, field visits, etc. But keep in mind, it's a very difficult job with very little reward. When you do see positive change, its awesome, but positive change is rare and/or often faked.

You're trying to help rehabilitate people, many of which don't want help, and teach them how to live their life legally. At the same time, you're following the orders of a judge who doesn't always understand what an individual is struggling with and what it will take to overcome those struggles. On top of that, the criminal justice system is large, favors the rich, is often unfair, and does not often take the little guy into account.

Working in criminal justice is tough stuff. Very long hours. Low pay as you are technically a "public servant" and the salaries rank right up there with teachers. And don't forget the dangerous working conditions as you enter neighborhoods and houses that most sane people wouldn't even know existed. It is not a career for the faint of heart. Nor is it the right career for folks on a power trip. OP is correct when he says that a good probation officer has a mix of social work and criminal justice.

OP, my question is what is your least favorite thing about the job? For me, its two fold. I worry about contagious diseases with all the people interactions I do (i.e. TB, scabies, etc.) And secondly, the drug testing. I didn't go into nursing on purpose. I do not particularly want to be anywhere NEAR these people's bodily fluids...yet...that's part of the job. How about you?

drundge2 karma

Awesome to hear from another PO! I am extremely interested in how probation is done in other states/localities. Have you joined up on the /r/LEO private subreddit? Are you armed? If so, what gear are you guys given? Broad or narrow powers of arrest? Pay? Caseload size?

Your description of the interaction between offender/judge/CJ system/PO is absolutely, 100% spot on.

Worst part of my job? Definitely some anxiety when conducting an arrest, doing a search, or when I know (or don't know) dogs are around. Always on guard. I also fear bodily fluids, but I also worked in a jail, so I'm used to blood/shit... still freaked out by vomit.

Also bad: defense attorneys/DA's who won't give you the time of day because you don't have a law degree and police officers who think you're a softie or too "academic" because you have a four year degree. General court inefficiency and delay after delay.

Also bad: Lazy PO's who won't help with an arrest or search or baby their offenders.

Also bad: Low pay, no law enforcement retirement/pension system, more years until retirement.

But some of those "bads" aren't all the time. But you see it from time to time.

SoEntrepreneurial2 karma

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drundge1 karma

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SoEntrepreneurial1 karma

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drundge1 karma

Ugh, sorry to hear that. As I've said before, public defenders come in all types. I've seen incredible defenders who fight for their clients and then ones that are obviously just there to get a paycheck. Just by my interaction with DA's, you've got to remember that they're an attorney. They may put up a wall that says, "I don't give a shit, this fella is staying in jail and then we're gonna convict him of x,y,z" all the while when he/she is REALLY thinking, "Holy shit I hope this doesn't go public. We're gonna offer a really sweet plea deal to sweep this under the rug ASAP". I've seen that at least once before.

SoEntrepreneurial1 karma

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drundge1 karma

Haha, you actually could. I have several interstate compact cases right now! You gotta fork up that ridiculous $250 fee though! Best of luck on your future, man.

TheAtheistPOV2 karma

What do you think about the war on drugs? Mainly pot, do you think that people who use pot should be arrested?

drundge1 karma

I've answered this elsewhere. Long story short, I am not in favor of legalization (maybe some day in the future), but I do want decriminalization right now.

dude1871 karma

I am not in favor of legalization (maybe some day in the future)

I just cannot comprehend how somebody can work directly with so many of the harms caused by prohibition, yet still support it.

drundge1 karma

Like I've said elsewhere, I don't fully support prohibition of marijuana. I think we need to decriminalize it immediately. Legalization is a massive step, and I think we need more time before we jump right to it.

dude1872 karma

I think we need to decriminalize it immediately.

It's been decriminalized in my state for a long time now. That did not save my friends from missing out on college scholarships from mere possession charges, other friends that sell it from having their lives torn apart when they sold NO other drugs, nor did it keep the substance away from my aunt that had a decade long (mental, of course) addiction to it.

Decriminalization is not the answer, it merely cuts down on a tiny bit of the workload for the criminal justice industry while maintaining profits. It's legalization that will actually solve problems.

drundge1 karma

Decriminalization is not the answer, it merely cuts down on a tiny bit of the workload for the criminal justice industry while maintaining profits. It's legalization that will actually solve problems.

Profits for whom? I don't follow.

huskergirlie1 karma

I am so disappointed that I missed this when it was new. I am going to school now to be a (juvenile) probation officer. I still have about 2-2.5 years left so it will be a while.

I haven't read the whole AMA yet so it may have been asked, but do you have a lot of probationers that you are proud of? How many of them re-offend compared to how many you think were actually rehabilitated?

drundge1 karma

I would say I am proud of a good slice of my caseload. Most of them are at least trying to improve their situation. If you take victories like that, you'll be happy. If they report on time, attempt to pay back some restitution, and actually go to resources you refer them to, they are excellent. But if you look at rearrest and recidivism, you won't be as happy. I'd say a similar "good slice" of my caseload ends up reoffending, even if minor offenses. A lot of officers get discouraged and jaded because of these recidivism rates. A lot of wanna-be heroes come into this job thinking they're going to change the world. You've got to temper your expectations and not force yourself to see the negatives and not force yourself to be that "hero" figure. If positive behavior/no new criminal offenses occur, realize it and be happy. But never ever take a new arrest or new conviction as a personal failure on your part or a reason to be discouraged or as an excuse to lump all offenders in as no-good criminals. Recidivism goes waaaaay beyond just our part. There are millions of factors at play and we are only one small part of this system. So you take the small victories, never get too jaded, and always work with the offender as you always would. And if you can do this, you'll be happy in the job.

dysgraphia_add1 karma

How do you feel about Juggalos being classified as a gang?

drundge2 karma

I admit I am not well versed on them outside of what I see on the internet. I haven't encountered any here in the south. To be honest, I don't think I'd care until I saw police reports confirming their gang behavior. I'm far more worried about our local sets of gangs (Aryan Nation, Bloods, Crips, Folk Nation, 5 Percenters, etc).

thilardiel1 karma

How do you feel about "sweeps," were everyone with a single violation (no matter how minor and even if this was previously given a "pass" by their PO) is then violated and brought back to prison to be seen by the parole board again.

drundge2 karma

Well, we actually do conduct physical sweeps where we conduct warrantless searches of our highest level offenders and their homes. But we're only looking for big ticket items when we do that. I haven't heard of doing sweeps for even minor violations. Hmm. Don't think I like that idea. You can't expect perfection out of anyone, let alone offenders. Got to be reasonable.

thilardiel1 karma

I meant more violation sweeps, meaning everyone with a minor violation gets locked up again for a violation and they have to be seen by the parole board again (while they wait in prison).

In my state we started doing it after people on parole would do something like commit murder. We had 2 in less than a year's time. It was kind of like "well, everyone is scared that some parolees killed an old lady, better send every parolee back to prison!"

drundge2 karma

Hmm, nope. To my knowledge we've never done anything like that. Sounds like a pretty good knee-jerk reaction to a situation.

GadgetQueen1 karma

I would say that most POs over look a SHIT TON of stuff. Seriously, a TON, before a person is violated. We don't want to violate a probationer. We really don't. Well, I can't speak for EVERY PO, but most of us do not. Why not? Because it's a SHIT TON of paperwork, we have to go to court, we have to answer a lot of questions from a lot of people, and overall, it just sucks to tell a judge, "I can't supervise this person anymore because they refuse to comply with your orders." It just plain sucks.

I let folks get away with alot, I work to help them make changes, and I don't expect 100% perfection from anyone. We are dealing with hurting and miserable folks. If you show me that you are trying, you communicate with me, and you follow through with what I ask you to do and what the judge asks you to do with the best of your ability, then I'm not going to go out of my way to hunt you down and violate your probation. Sure, there are prick POs who will do that, but the vast majority do not. If you look at the statistics on VOP numbers, I guarantee you that by the time a person is actually violated, they deserve it a 100 times over.

thilardiel1 karma

In the case of a sweep PO discretion is revoked. Anyone that is in trouble on paper (dropped dirty, it's logged that they missed some appointment somewhere etc) gets pulled in. What do you think of this?

drundge2 karma

I despise when people screw with my discretion, to be honest. Why give us the discretion if it could do easily be taken away? Definitely not liking what you're describing.

not_again_robot1 karma

What do you think of the juvenile justice system? Would it be better to give them more restorative help then longer prison sentences? Also, what do you think about the statistically higher incarceration rates of minorities?

drundge1 karma

Well, I'll start by saying that I previously worked in a high security juvenile detention facility. Juveniles need better resources. The younger they can get an intervention the better. But I've seen 13/14 year olds that already have the mindset of a criminal (justifications, rationalizations, horrible neighborhood, family all involved in the CJ system). I got out of juvenile work because it is extremely difficult. I absolutely think there needs to be more restorative justice with juveniles and they need targeted interventions from multiple resources (jail, probation, social services, schools, mental health, etc).

The higher incarceration rates of minorities are disproportionate when compared to whites. This is due to a whole plethora of variables. Lower starting socioeconomic status, generational crime, poor school systems, lack of community resources, etc etc etc. Race in itself has nothing to do with crime. Look at all the massive disadvantages (and also cultural rationalizations, learned behaviors, etc) underneath and it begins to make more sense.

nawsz1 karma

Do you feel weed should be legalized? It would be refreshing to get an opinion from someone on the other side of the system.

drundge2 karma

Yes and no. I'm very divided. Personally, I don't think our society is mature enough for something like that. Just look at our underage drinking problems compared to other nations. And I have so many disenfranchised black youths that are seriously consumed by it. They have no motivation to do anything BUT smoke weed. That's disheartening and I don't think legalization would help that.

I am absolutely for decriminalizing it though. At least to certain level. Cite anyone for any amount over one ounce. Let personal use slide under the radar for now. Maybe in decades to come we'll be mature enough, but I just don't think the US is ready for another vice.

Sunshinepipedream1 karma

So then, as you noted the high level of issues from alcohol, do you think it should be kept at a similar level of legality to that of marijuana?

drundge1 karma

Again, I'm not for legalization at all. If it ever does become legalized, I feel there will be big difficulties in determining level of intoxication/impairment, especially in regards to driving. That is, unless I am not up to date on the methods of field testing for marijuana intoxication. To me, I just feel it presents too many problems right now, even though there are clear benefits (taxation, reduction of black market, reduction in new arrests/charges, etc). It's just a very grey issue right now.

Mrsbsdetector0 karma

Does the relationship between the rehab industry and the parole/probation department ever bother you?

drundge3 karma

In what manner?

At least in my area, our relationship with drug treatment centers/providers is very good. They thrive off our referrals, and we get to keep people out of jail. We are able to share drug screens between one another and keep each other posted about offender progress.

The only thing that bothers me is that there are not enough options for drug treatment. I wish we had more residential options, lower cost options, etc.

Mrsbsdetector-7 karma

In one post you almost seem remorseful that you had to send someone to jail because of a cannabis violation, yet in this post you seem almost giddy at the thought of P/O violators forced into treatment at a rehab where the industry works hard to keep the war on cannabis in effect, so they can continue the steady supply of P/O violators.

Can you clarify?

drundge3 karma

Sure I can clarify. I do occasionally feel bad about putting non-violent offenders in jail. But sometimes it's out of my control or it is required via policy.

I refer to state-level publicly funded drug treatment first. They are first line and at almost no cost to the offender. If an offender can afford a private center, they are fine to go.

Personally, I keep marijuana users out if I can. I try my hardest to let them attempt to test negative (maybe give them two or three positives before I am forced to refer). If they are chronic though, I have no choice but to refer onwards. Maybe their marijuana use is also tied into other bad decision making processes. Maybe the marijuana use just illustrates their poor coping skills. These issues need to be addressed. Remember, we are RARELY talking about a marijuana user who is high functioning, has a good job, etc. Those are the rare individuals. Most marijuana users I encounter have a whole host of other issues at play.