Hello everyone. I did one of these as a state officer a year or so ago and had received some comments requesting I do one as a federal officer. I've now completed my first year as a federal probation officer in a southeastern US state. I'm under 30, male, with a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology and an M.S. in Criminal Justice & Criminology. I've worked as a a research assistant on several temporary contracts and I've also been a security officer, loss prevention officer, juvenile detention officer, state probation officer, and now federal officer.

Tomorrow is a federal holiday, so obviously I have a scotch in hand and have some free time.

Proof via imgur of my badges and as soon as a mod can confirm, I'll send an email from my official .gov email to verify my identity.


As a quick edit: This job requires that your personal philosophy come out to a certain extent. Officers fall on a spectrum between law enforcement and social work and I believe I fall firmly smack dab in the middle. That may give you an idea as to how some of my answers will come up.

Edit: Gotta get some sleep. I'll answer any other questions that pop up by tomorrow. It's either answer reddit questions or clean the house on my day off...sooooo....

Edit: Going on two days of this stuff. Still welcome to answer any other questions that pop up.

Comments: 124 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

Razorpint30 karma

I appreciate your time meow here officer. Do you feel that the trend to distrust authority, especially in the meow aspect of law enforcement, is growing or subsiding?

drundge42 karma

Meow listen here... Thank you for taking the time to send meow a question. I meowst say that distrust of police is on the increase, but simply due to the more present nature of social media. Meow, I think most people still appreciate law enforcement and their role and understand there will always be acts that challenge our trust, but these should be put into perspective and judged on their own standing.

Police and law enforcement are ever changing meow, and I think changes to policy because of recent incidents will only increase our trust. I don't think this is a time to be critical, as the mass amount of law enforcement are doing their jobs to a t.


Gawernator2 karma

Do you think more 'bad/corrupt' police are existing, or that it just seems more widespread because of tons of media coverage

drundge3 karma

Little column A, little column B (probably more column B).

Without doubt, the easy access to social media is part of this current issue. Of all the videos I've seen that purport to show police violence, I'd say at least 80-90% of them edit the footage so you're only seeing "the bad" part that happens at the end. You're seeing no lead up. You have no idea how many times these officers have dealt with this one individual before, no true context as to the situation. So many other factors that get totally glossed over to present one "truth". It's difficult, to say the least.

Could we do better and train better? Absolutely. I think we're on that path though. Certainly policing is better than it was twenty, thirty years ago. But I've got to admit that I don't have too much room to comment on policing, because I'm not the police. It would be disingenuous to say "It's totally x, y, z that is the problem". I have a limited insight in that world.

Gawernator1 karma

Yeah, that's a fair assessment. I'm in the military, what do you think of the "militarization" of police forces in the past couple decades?

And do you think it's dangerous for the police forces to have much more firepower than citizens (generalizing)?

drundge1 karma

Whenever someone says militarization, I have to laugh a little. Police nowadays are taught verbal judo, deescalation techniques, human psychology, community policing, etc. So many topics to assist in being a public servant. Police forces have always had better firepower than citizens. This is absolutely nothing new. I mean, comeon. Look at this http://i.imgur.com/yvoof8x.jpg or this http://imgur.com/gallery/rIpNz

I personally believe that there may be some certain tipping point for too much firepower, but I see nothing unusual in the police departments in my neck of the woods. The police have responded with weapons and tactics in response to violence and criminals armed with better machinery than police.

And look at where we're at with less-than-lethal. OC, CS, bean bags, tazers, rubber bullets. Far better options than decades ago.

Toledojoe10 karma

How much leeway do you have in deciding whether a parole violation sends someone back to jail?

drundge8 karma

A pretty large discretion, but lots of caveats. The violation reports you write can assist or seriously jeopardize an offender. But beyond that, it is your recommendation to the court/judge that truly matters. Dependent on the judge, they may rely heavily on the opinion of the probation officer. Other judges may already have their mind set. And of course, before a lot of this, violations are generally staffed with a supervisor to determine the correct level of sanction. Maybe we address the violation in many different manners than a full blown violation report back to court. Generally, it takes a lot of second chances to result in a full back-to-court situation. Unless it's a very serious public safety issue (new and serious criminal charges, threats of violence to self/others, etc), officers generally attempt many other sanctions before court action.

I'll say that once a report goes back to court, I've had many offenders that I desperately want put away, but also a very fair share that I feel could use just one more chance but I'm being forced to go back to court. It can be a toss up at any time, and regardless of how the officer feels, the decision rests with the judge or parole commission.

Annie_M5 karma

What are your thoughts/opinions on the current Registered Sex Offender laws? Specifically, do you think it is broken and if you could recommend or make changes what, if anything, would they be?

drundge5 karma

Ah, glad you asked that. First thing to remember is that registry laws vary by state. So some states have more or less requirements. That's important to note.

I'd say that generally I find my state's registry to provide too little information. And by this I mean that there are many cases in which a 19/20 year old may have consensual sex with a 15 year old. Now, that doesn't make it any less wrong, but this would generally be a conviction of indecent liberties with a minor, possibly statutory rape. When searching the registry, this is the only thing you'll see. So what do parents and neighbors usually do? Freak out. There is no context when viewing the registry, unfortunately.

What people also don't understand is that a large amount of sex offenders on the registry are actively on some form of supervision. A lot of people seem to believe that sex offenders have extremely high recidivism rates, when the inverse is actually true. Sex offenders reoffend at rates much much lower than other crimes, especially when they are on some form of supervision. Again, the general public just isn't that well informed about sex offenders.

Some states have notification requirements, in which law enforcement is required to physically notify residents within x area. This I have a strong objection to, as it does nothing but increase fear and hostility towards sex offenders.

I think there absolutely need to be some changes and tweaks, but I do like the general availability of information to the public. Anybody can go down to the clerk of court in their county and obtain conviction records for just about anything. All of that is public information. Same with arrests. The sex offender registry simply makes it more easily accessible.

ratbandit4 karma

Again, the general public just isn't that well informed about sex offenders.

As someone who grew up with a parent who was a sex offender, yes, the public is very well informed, thanks to those wonderful lists that also posted our fucking home address for 20 years straight.

drundge4 karma

The general public thinks they're informed. Again, my view of the registry is an ambivalent one. I think stories like yours illustrate the harm that can come from these lists. But I also realize some of the potential, especially with repeat offenders and sexually violent offenders. The registry is absolutely not perfect. I'm sorry to hear about your experience.

ratbandit2 karma

Aren't most (child) sex offenders related to the children they abuse or already know the children the abuse? How exactly does a list help people protect their children exactly? And isn't the mother of the girl that Megan's law was named after now against registry lists (I could be mistaken on that point, but I do remember reading about her)?

I know you're not responsible for this stuff and whatnot, but I have yet to see a valid reason for giving out the home address, recent picture, detailed description, etc of sex offenders.

But I also realize some of the potential

Definitely interested in hearing what benefits you think the list has.

drundge2 karma

Absolutely. Victims know the perpetrator in an overwhelming majority of sex offenses. Last I read it was somewhere around half of all known sex offenses involve a child and a family member. I'm not too sure about Megan Kanka's mother and what she feels towards the registry laws, but I'd be curious to read about it.

I will add that another big gripe I have with registry laws is the automatic inclusion of individuals, regardless of actual risk. We have a massive amount of risk assessment tools that have been scientifically validated. And yet risk assessment plays no part in registries. I think we could benefit greatly from this area.

Although sex offenses trigger some of our deepest disgust and dark emotions, I think it's important to put more time into understanding these crimes and not add stigma simply because of the offense listed in front of a person. Overall, it's still a very new area in regards to supervision of these offenders. Changes need and will be made down the line as more research comes to light. But this area is also political suicide, as almost no politician would ever push legislation to reduce the registry guidelines and inclusion criteria.

LittleBlueEyes5 karma

Is it legal for someone currently on probation to own a gun? Is it possible for someone currently on probation to be a DEA officer? Is it possible for someone currently on probation to ever be a police officer in the future?

The person in question is on probation for a DUI in the state of California, if that makes a difference.

drundge2 karma

The gun question would generally depend on what state you are in and their laws. I'm not terribly familiar with CA and their laws. 99% of the time, if you're on probation, a standard condition is that you can not own or possess a firearm while on that term of supervision. Once that term is complete, firearms may be allowed again. This is how it is in my state. So long as it is misd and not felony probation, the individual would have to give up their firearms during supervision. I've done this before. People surrender their firearms or illustrate they've been given to relatives, etc. After supervision, that right is restored.

Now of course, anyone that has been convicted of a felony can not own or possess a firearm. This is national.

Someone on probation could still go on to become a police officer or other law enforcement officer, but it would be difficult. A lot depends on how far in the past the conviction was. What was it for? Was that the ONLY thing in the past? Some departments/agencies might bring someone on, but in my experience, it'd be extremely difficult. Once there is negative interaction with law enforcement, that ship has kinda sailed. Certainly not impossible though.

LittleBlueEyes1 karma

I dunno about him having any felonies. The only thing I know is that this person is CURRENTLY on probation (as of two weeks ago) for a DUI. I don't know when his probation will "expire", for lack of a better term.

drundge1 karma

Well, if you wanted to dig deeper you could head to the clerk of court for whatever county/district the conviction came out of. That stuff is public information.

Depending on the state, some more info may be available online.

klezart5 karma

How do you feel about the United States having the highest incarceration rate in the world?

drundge2 karma

It's sad. There is nothing impressive about a high incarceration rate. But on the other side of things, I do believe we must look at our culture to understand why we have such an incarceration rate. Both a function of being overly punitive as well as the actual high rate of crime we face in the United States. Add our system of politics, and it makes sense why we do what we do (for better or almost definitely worse). Personally, I believe we're on our way to better times ahead, and our crime rate shows us this. The Bureau of Justice Statistics is a great source of information and shows what a decline we've been in over the past decades, which is encouraging. We've seen a dip in incarceration rates since around 05/06/07, and hopefully this reflect a continuing trend since our crime rate has been on a downward slope looooong before this.

Edit: On the federal side of things, I do believe we're progressive in certain aspects. We've seen a wave of retroactive resentencing, especially on crack cocaine and other drug offenses that were clearly overly punitive in the 90's and early 00's. The sentencing recommendations have been changed to reflect this in the future. We're now facing a new wave or retroactive discharges because of this new view on drug offenses. I think the US Sentencing Commission is a good oversight and has provided a fair view of how we sentence and has provided strong recommendation to progressive change.

ratbandit4 karma

Sorry but some of this response kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

I do believe we must look at our culture to understand why we have such an incarceration rate.

The drug war, corrupt cops, corrupt judges, corrupt prosecutors. It's not really about culture.

the actual high rate of crime we face in the United States

The crime rate that's been on a steady decline for 20+ years?

drundge7 karma

Well, I understand some of your concerns. Corrupt officials in law enforcement are extremely discouraging and obviously need to be dealt with when corruption is illustrated. They are part of the problem, but one that is over-reported and over-emphasized. Are you saying that crime is only a matter because of corrupt officials? I'm just having trouble seeing where you stand. I'd like to know more.

Yes, the crime rate across pretty much all major categories has dropped over the past decades. I mentioned this in another answer on this AMA, as the UCR and Bureau of Justice Statistics are excellent resources. But the fact remains that when looking at violent crime, we still have very high rates compared to other industrialized nations.

In the end, I can only move forward looking at the cases I have. Especially at the federal level, these are cases that have been intensely investigated and tried. There is no question as to the guilt.

Are there problems with the way we do things? Sure. Am I fan of the war on drugs? Certainly not. On that frame of reference, the federal government has taken steps to resentence literally thousands of drug cases. In fact, my district alone is expecting the first wave of these retro sentences to result in the early release of almost 200 individuals. That's the first wave across about 24 counties in our district. I think the federal government is looking at a lot of drug cases and understanding these individuals do not need to be incarcerated at the level they are. We've used retros in the past. Check out US v. Simmons.

Alyssayan3 karma

Was the degree necessary for the job, what else does it need to become a probation federal officer? BTW I love the psychology! :)

drundge2 karma

Hiring is weird. There are 94 districts in the US. Each district operates pretty much independently. They can have their own requirements. Across all districts, most state clearly that a 4 year degree is required. Some don't. However, I will say that it appears things are getting more and more competitive. Out of my class of 24 other new officers at FLETC, about 3/4ths either had a graudate degree or were working on it. It seems to be a strong trend.

Outside of the degree, most districts want the officer that goes the added mile. The feds generally have their pick of the litter, so to say. Plenty of high quality applicants. I made sure that during my time the state, I pretty much volunteered for everything. Training, responsibilities, etc. I took it all to show that I was motivated to go above and beyond. And after having been with the feds for a year, I can say that I no longer "stand out" as I did with the state. All of my fed coworkers are highly professional, highly educated, and take on added responsibilities at all times.

This is a field perfect for those that enjoy both aspects of this job. Law enforcement and social work/psychology. Don't ever see yourself as a police officer? Don't ever see yourself as a social worker? Probation might be perfect :)

InTransitHQ3 karma

A little late to this, but I had a question about probation fees. I've never been in jail/had to deal with probation, but a close friend of mine works at a jail in Florida and told me that the prisoners there who are released on probation have to pay some sort of fee whenever they meet with their probation officer.

He said a lot of the individuals on probation have a hard time finding work soon after getting released and can't get the money together for the fees, so they end up avoiding their officer and being sent back to jail for violating parole. What are these fees used for and do you agree with them? It seems like a bit of a burden to place on individuals recently released from prison.

drundge2 karma

Ahh yes. Supervision fees. When I was a state officer, offenders were required to pay $40/month. This money is not paid to the officer, not paid to the court, it is paid to the state and placed in a general fund. I never agreed with it unless the person was reasonably financially able to pay it. I went to court many times to have fees waived and a lot of our judges understood that it was ridiculous to require certain offenders to pay these fees. We also charged a $250 community service fee just so they could do their court ordered service. Ridiculous, right?

At the federal level, there are no supervision fees. No community service fees. The only fees levied come in the form of a $100 "special assessment fee" that goes to the court for actually trying the case. That's a one time fee that is usually paid by the offender working while in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. Sometimes a fine might be added, but this is usually only for financial crimes. Restitution is ordered if there is a victim that requires it. I feel much better doing my job with the feds when it comes to money...

Generally I didn't agree with fees when I was with the state. I firmly believe in financial restitution when a victim is involved that had some monetary loss. But I do realize that someone else beyond tax payers also needs to be responsible for the funding of supervision and court services if they can. Many courts and offices were extremely capped with money.

Deadpool20033 karma

Whats the craziest thing you've seen whe on duty?

drundge12 karma

Crazy is usually pretty rare for us, compared to other law enforcement. But here are some of my favorites:

1.) As a state PO: Fellow officer comes into my office quickly. "Hey man, you got your gear on? Can you assist me in an arrest? He'll be coming in any second. I want to scoop him up." Sure thing. We make the arrest, no issues, guy is compliant. I need to start the search incident to arrest but don't have gloves. I ask my coworker to go snag a pair for me. He's off and I'm waiting. I think, might as well just start it, screw the gloves. So right before I dive into his pockets, I ask... "Anything I need to know about in the pockets? Knives, needles, anything?" Guy hesitates. Says, "Yeah, a condom." Okay, well that's not too weird. Pretty common. But he adds, "It's used.".... What? Long story, but he cheated on his girlfriend who just gave birth that morning to his son. He had a quickie prior to his drug counseling and he was intending to go over to the hospital right before we arrested him. Thank god i didn't dive in without a glove.

2.) Usually the crazy comes in the form of mental illness, unfortunately. I've had a fair share of offenders with severe mental illness and have supervised their behavior and lifestyles when they are experiencing (through their fault or not) active symptoms. Paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.

3.) I've been through more disgusting apartments, trailers, and houses than I can remember. I remember one time assisting local law enforcement and going into a house where they had no a/c and lived with goats and chickens. Yeah, goats and chickens inside the house. Along with all their lovely excrement.

4.) I'm now on about a 50% specialized caseload of sex offenders. The crazy from here comes from reading their presentence report and the extreme details of their crimes. Disturbing and sad. Supervise one guy right now who was convicted of distribution of child pornography and had a sex dungeon in an outside storage shed. He had the full setup with child pornography covering the walls from floor to ceiling, along with whips/chains/restraints/gags/sex toys/etc. No indication of him actually having a contact offense with any child, but given the time he put into that room... you never truly know. Ugh.

Mr_Weebles2 karma

Supervise one guy right now who was convicted of distribution of child pornography and had a sex dungeon in an outside storage shed. He had the full setup with child pornography covering the walls from floor to ceiling

How do you deal with CP? I'm a Dad and wouldn't do that job for all the money on Earth.

drundge5 karma

I'm actually nearing fatherhood myself in a few months, so I've grappled with how I will react the further I go into this field while also having a child of my own.

Our office maintains a victim-centered approach to our supervision of convicted sex offenders. This doesn't necessarily mean going with the most severe sanctions at all times, but it does mean more intense supervision and oversight. More treatment options, more collaboration with the community. I feel this approach is appropriate and assists in longer term reductions in recidivism. I am happy that I am one of the few officers to volunteer for a position most others don't want. I try to remember that these sex offenders are people too, and those willing to accept change in their lives are worth partnering with, no questions asked. I do have some sex offenders that are obviously grateful to have someone who treats them with respect and wants to see them succeed, just like anybody else. As long as these people are willing to change, no matter their past, I can do my job happily.

Luckily, I am not an investigator or judge or jury and do not see the actual child pornography. I simply read about the graphic details from offender's presentence reports and other court documents. That alone is fairly chilling, depending on the case. I do have the possibility of being exposed to child pornography when we conduct searches of computers and cell phones and houses, but I try to not think about those possibilities.

argent-skies2 karma

2.) Usually the crazy comes in the form of mental illness, unfortunately. I've had a fair share of offenders with severe mental illness

What are the provisions for mentally ill criminals where you work? Do they receive adequate psychiatric support etc?

4.) I'm now on about a 50% specialized caseload of sex offenders.

Did you choose your specialty (and why, if so?) What's your take on pedophiles vs. actual pedophilic acts- are they being treated or dealt with appropriately? (e.g. this article)

drundge7 karma

I do believe they receive adequate psychiatric care IF we can get them transportation. My area of the country is a medium sized city surrounded by a ton of rural counties. For those that need services in rural areas, transportation is a huge problem. No public transport in those counties, and if they don't have family/friends, they're pretty much out of luck. It's awful. However, for those that have transportation, we are as proactive as possible. Presentence report illustrates previous mental health issues? BOP references mental health issues or the need for continuing services once released? We're all over that immediately upon release to us. A full psychiatric assessment and if needed, individual/group counseling and meetings with a psychiatrist for medications. It's pretty fast and efficient. But remember, a ton is how receptive the offender is to treatment. If they NEED services but have no desire, we're playing with a whole different issue.

Yes, I chose the specialty. Not surprisingly though, not many people volunteer for this caseload. Secondary trauma to the officer can happen. It's difficult. Sex offenders generally spend their lives masking this side of them, so they are generally excellent at deception.

As to the second question, that is a hotly debated topic right now. On face value, yes, offenders that have contact offenses (in that the actual instant offense was a physical act on a victim) is being treated more severely than on one who was only a collector of child pornography. However... there is a fair amount of research that indicates that many "non-contact" offenders actually have a significant history of actual contact offenses that weren't caught or previously reported. If I can get back to my work laptop, I can provide some studies. Off the top of my head, one such study had a sample size around 80/90 or so, but found that after counseling and a supportive environment, many "non-contact" offenders admitted to actual physical victimization. This the the "dark" area of offenders whom we may think are just collectors or non-contact offenders. That is why I am extremely hesitant to view "non pedophillic actors" as less severe. Human sexuality is extremely complex, but also a frighteningly dominate part of our psyche. Especially in regards to sexual urges that are pervasive, it is extremely difficult to believe that a person would refuse to act on any of these thoughts throughout the course of their life.

argent-skies1 karma

A full psychiatric assessment and if needed, individual/group counseling and meetings with a psychiatrist for medications. It's pretty fast and efficient.

That sounds pretty good, tbh. I vaguely recollect a podcast profiling either a NYC or Chicago prison psychiatric section where services were a lot harder to get and revolving-door/ complex needs arrestees were much more common. But then that's a different context, I expect - the game changes at federal level?

That's an important point you make there re: the dark / gray areas. How do you (try to) prevent 'non-contact' offenses from escalating?

Thanks for the thoughtful reply!

drundge3 karma

Yes, some things do change at the federal level. I've spoken with several guys that were actually RELIEVED that their state charges were picked up by the federal government, because they knew they were going to a better facility with more programs. A lot of our state prisons are awful.

Well, that's the most difficult aspect of the job with sex offenders. The majority of my sex offense cases are non-contact. No official record of any contact offense. To prevent escalation as best as possible, of course the first step is a program designed specifically towards sex offenders. Although our one sex offender clinician is new, he's excellent. We colloborate and share information between offender/counselor/officer to ensure we're all aware of behavior and issues. Further than that, for any of our sex offenders that want internet access, we require them to install remote monitoring software. Their activity online is monitored by a company in Texas and I receive notifications on any inappropriate behavior while online. Can be used with computers or cell phones. Another layer of oversight.

We also try and be proactive with employers and family. We put our name out there and welcome open feedback if there are any "red flag" signs or just to discuss positive aspects of the offender. I try to partner with other people in sex offenders lives as quickly as possible. Sometimes a call from a family member can prevent escalation

MarcusWilliamsII1 karma

Further than that, for any of our sex offenders that want internet access, we require them to install remote monitoring software. Their activity online is monitored by a company in Texas and I receive notifications on any inappropriate behavior while online.

How long after being released are people required to this?

drundge2 karma

As soon as they begin supervision and have access to a computer they are required to notify us and sign up for the remote monitoring. Most federal offenders serve their time in prison then get released to a halfway house (officially a "residential reentry center") and even though they're still under the custody of the BOP at that time, we communicate with them. So I will have a fairly good idea while they are at the halfway house if they have computers and want to begin the monitoring.

MarcusWilliamsII1 karma

What I meant to ask is, what is the duration of this monitoring?

I am concerned when I hear of cases where people are placed under very strict monitoring conditions for the rest of their life. To me, if a person follows the rules, being on probation should imply a temporary condition.

drundge1 karma

The computer monitoring is throughout the entire course of supervision unless somehow the offender pursued a modification order from the judge (which I can tell you wouldn't be granted). Or of course, if the offender decided he didn't want a personal computer/cell phone. He still has public access to local library computers and such. The monitoring is obviously not a catch-all.

htallen2 karma

If you could change one thing about the way or criminal justice system works what would you change?

drundge8 karma

I wish politicians were either more open or less afraid of pushing for funding of mental health and drug treatment as alternatives to incarceration. Or at least integrated in a TRUE manner with prisons. Most treatment in prison is mediocre at best. I think we're on a trend towards that route, but we could do so so much better. In the community, the federal system is able to get much better treatment in regards to mental health/drug abuse, but we could benefit so greatly from more money and better providers. Hell, the drug treatment agency we contract with only has one sex offender counselor, and he's only been doing for less than a year. We need more funding, more clinicians, more services. We need millions pumped into mental health and drug abuse. The law enforcement side of things we can handle in an efficient manner. I want so much more damn money in mental health/drug abuse.

Bearlove102 karma

What's the worst crime you've ever seen?

drundge2 karma

Worst is hard to categorize. I'd have to say that the worst was one of my sex offenders. He was part of a very long network of pedophiles. He communicated with one individual that was across the nation from him via instant messanger. He ended up coaching the other person into taking pictures and videos of the guy molesting and raping his 4 year old daughter. The pictures this guy took were instant and sent via instant messanger to my guy, who discussed how much he loved them and how he wanted to have sex with both the guy and the 4 year old. The pictures were beyond graphic and my guy continued by encouraging more and more pictures, which the other guy happily obliged.

I'd say that was the worst at this time. The worst part is that he still denies his involvement in this offense...

U4EADonovan2 karma

If you had the chance to go back and start life again would you still choose to be what you are now?

drundge2 karma

Very tough call. Obviously, the money is not spectacular, but I try to always remember that I can pay bills and have a roof over my head, so things could be extremely worse.

I always had an interest in technology. I was the kid in high school at the LAN parties, I still game and build my own PCs, and to some extent, I wish I had gone into IT in the criminal justice system. I get only a taste of that now with my job, specifically with sex offenders (computer searches and beginner forensics, stuff like that). I realize I probably could have been in a similar but much more lucrative position if I had pursued these interests in college. But eh, I'm very happy. I love my job.

JustARandomGerman1 karma

From your experience, what impact do rehabiliation programs have? Can you see a trend concerning which offenders benefit most from it, and which ones tend to recidivate?

Do you believe the hard punishments in the US help avoiding crime? I am thinking about teenagers being sentenced to long imprisonments. Or am I totally getting the wrong image by our media that only reports on extreme cases?

In Germany we have a seperate Jugendstrafrecht for young criminals, which can be applied up until the age of 21 if a person lacks behind the expected spiritual maturity. It is connected to more generous verdicts, special prisons where they are amongst peers and intensive care by probation officers and youth workers.

drundge2 karma

  • I believe in any rehabilitation program that is based upon scientific evidence and shows statistically significant outcomes. Generally, I am onboard any program that involves cognitive behavioral interventions. We absolutely need to reshape offender's thought process. These thoughts generate behaviors and (generally) negative outcomes. If we can reshape the thinking process, we can change outcomes. Unfortunately, very few prisons include rehabilitation programs that are effective. Some prisons do, and they can be beneficial. There are community programs in my area that can assist. And of course, if mental health or drug treatment is required, we do anything needed to get these individuals into these programs.

  • I believe some hard punishments in the US assist in deterring crime, but only rarely. And usually with the offenders that I am getting upon their release from prison, it was only after serving those 5/10/15 years that they come out and say, "I'll never do that again." But no, I don't really believe harsh sentences deter the general public. And yes, you'll hear true stories about teenagers and other young offenders being sentenced to extremely long terms. I can't really say whether or not I agree with that unless I were to read about the actually offense, their criminal history, and the sentence imposed. I'd have to discuss it on a case by case basis.

  • I do believe we need further overhauling of our juvenile criminal justice system. All states have a separate adjudication process for juvenile offenders/defendants, but this can vary state by state on age. Again, some states are more progressive than others in regards to what programs are available for convicted youth. Would be difficult to comment on this without applying it either to my state or being more informed on what other states do.

Also, hello to Germany! I've wanted to visit for many years now.

InTupacWeTrust1 karma

Are angry that the DA gets to pick what crimes goes to court base on the probability of the state winning that case?

drundge2 karma

Am I angry that the DA gets to pick? Yes and no. Usually "picking" cases is due to the overwhelming number of cases they face and limited time to try them. So yeah, if the evidence is lacking, they may pass over that case. At the federal level, the US Attorneys are able to pick up state cases (or "pick them") because the federal government has more time and resources to try these cases, generally ending a better outcome. The federal government can also indict based on their own investigations. I think the process at the federal level is excellent.

CocaineAndMojitos1 karma

Last year I was on 6 month probation for a marijuana charge. I had random drug tests through the color code system so I only ended up being tested twice but the first one, I tested positive for opiates. I eventually figured out that it was because I took a hydrocodone the night before but I didn't have a prescription, it was from the girl I went on a date with the night before.

I told my PO I got it from her for my back pain and he said he understood and believed me that I wasn't running around shooting up heroine or anything. Then all of a sudden I have to appear in court before a judge about this. The paper even said I could face jail time so I shit my pants for a while. During this time I also couldn't change my restricted license approved driving hours so I was out of work for a while thanks to this.

When I got to the court and stood up in front of a judge, all he did was read a letter from my PO saying exactly what I said, he didn't say one word to me, and dismissed the charges.

Here's my two questions:

  1. Why did I have to wait over a month without the ability to change my restricted license hours only to have a judge read a letter that he could have read the exact day I told my PO?

  2. Why are people caught with marijuana being drug tested for substances they didn't get in trouble for?

drundge2 karma

1.) Can't answer that. Top secret shit. Actually, I have no idea, really. I've never encountered a situation like that. What hours were you trying to change them to?

2.) Well, if we were only legally allowed to test for the drug of conviction, some users would just switch drugs. Some wouldn't, sure. But it allows us to see if marijuana was just the tip of the iceberg and there is actually other drug abuse going on. I've had plenty of state marijuana offenders end up testing positive for other drugs throughout the course of supervision.

CocaineAndMojitos1 karma

  1. I was a pizza delivery driver so I was just trying to switch which days I work, it wasn't a big deal because I drive for my job. I told them I'd be driving from 10am-10pm and just wanted different days as the fall semester was starting but the clerk said it'll probably be denied because of the opiate thing.
  2. I suspected that was the reason but I just wanted to hear your answer. Thanks for the quick response.

drundge1 karma

I'd definitely be interested to learn why you couldn't change your hours, especially if you had proof it was for work. Weird. Anyway, best of luck to you in the future!

Bindshoes1 karma

My girlfriend is thinking about becoming a probation officer. How should she go about doing it? What degree should she get?

drundge3 karma

Requirements vary from state to state, district to district. Generally speaking, a four year degree is the minimum (but not always the case). Most departments would like to see the degree in some form of social science (criminal justice, psychology, sociology, social work, etc). However, I work with plenty of other officers who have degrees in something completely off the wall. These jobs tend to get offered to individuals who have some form of caseload experience, even if it isn't law enforcement related. Working in the courts, counseling, etc. Workforce development, social services, etc. Jobs that deal with the public or groups of diverse individuals. All of these types of jobs are valuable on a resume to transition in to probation.

Granted, some states have probation departments that are almost 100% law enforcement only. They want guys who have come from law enforcement or the military. Really, the best way is to reach out to these potential landing spots and ask what they desire in an applicant.

On the federal level, graduate degrees are becoming more and more common. Out of my academy training class of 24 officers, about 1/2 to 3/4ths had a graduate degree or were working on theirs. Experience at a state or county probation department is very common before being considered for the federal level.

Quick edit: I will say that generally I discourage people from just getting a CJ degree. It's limiting in nature, and this job can result in burn-out. If I could go back in time and do it again, I'd still get the CJ degree, but add another major in something else that I enjoyed. IT, public adminstration, forensics, etc. Something that I could fall back on if I needed to. Just my two cents.

Pilot8761 karma

Have you ever had a death threat from some one on probation?

drundge1 karma

Nope. I feel that most of that comes from the respect I give each person on my caseload. I've had less than stellar encounters with people though. Been called chickenshit, cracker, opie, motherfucker, no good shithead, liar, etc. Generally these interactions are very rare.

MarcusWilliamsII1 karma

What constitutes a sex offense has changed throughout history. E.g., homosexual acts were once regarded as sex crimes. Are you of the opinion that all sexual offenders need to change? Could it not be argued that in some cases, it is the law that should change? Are people on probation punished if they openly state that they believe the law they were prosecuted under is unjust?

drundge1 karma

Generally I don't check anyone's comment history, but yours is clear. I applaud you on your openness, but I outright refute where you're trying to take this question. Yes, each and every sex offender I supervise at the federal level is unequivocally guilty of a sex crime and a moral wrong. The crime primarily occurs because those within certain age ranges can neither give consent, nor have a fully functioning adult brain to fully comprehend their actions or the sexual actions of others.

Especially in regards to minors, no laws need changing if they are victimized by adults, which is what you've alluded to and what we're actually talking about. We're talking about victimization that leaves lifelong scars.

MarcusWilliamsII1 karma

If a parolee commits to being compliant with the law, while expressing a political belief that said law is unjust, will this affect how they are treated by the parole system?

drundge3 karma

Hmm... certainly an officer that takes personal offense to that type of sentiment could result in a rougher time with that offender. The offender may find their course of supervision to be more invasive than need be. I've seen that happen occasionally. That being said...

I'll comment that for myself, if an offender is up front and honest with me and does not believe they are a.) at fault/guilty and/or b.) feel the law they were prosecuted under is unjust, I am perfectly fine with that, so long as they abide by the conditions of their supervision and do not interfere with me conducting my lawful duties. If that's the case, we're completely squared away in how we understand one another. That person will complete their term of supervision successfully and with very little push back from me. I am fine with disagreement over the basics of the law. But I can say from experience (generally) that those individuals that express a belief that a law is unjust are the ones that will continue to break that law, whether they are being supervised by me or not. That is when we have a problem.

For example, I've had sovereign citizens on my caseload before. They truly believe that many, many laws and regulations are unjust and not legally binding. Because of this, they tend to continue to break these said laws (taxes, drivers license requirements, real estate issues, etc etc etc), while maintaining their disbelief in them. That is a major problem and one that I can not respect. That type of behavior does not allow me to conduct my job.

boilerspartan1 karma

Earlier, I know you expanded on your thoughts about people convicted of crimes being able to pursue a career in your field. My questions is what about somebody with a 2-3 misdemeanors who have had their charges dismissed. Basically arrested but eventually the charges were dismissed. Are situations like this still a barrier to entry in your field?

drundge2 karma

Yes, I would say they are still a barrier. An arrest still looks bad when applying to any law enforcement agency. Is it a deal breaker? Maybe not, but I can tell you that most agencies have more than enough highly qualified candidates that have zero criminal history to almost automatically exclude someone with an arrest. If you are extremely interested in some area of law enforcement, I'd suggest you do whatever possible to make yourself stand out because you will need it to make the arrest look less severe. The further in the past the arrest is, the better.

I'm not saying if this is fair or not, just telling you kinda how it is. /r/protectandserve gets questions like that all the time and my response is the same answer other agencies/officers give.

boilerspartan1 karma

Dont you think that it would be better if the sex offender list was only viewable to LEO's only? I mean how are they going to get housing and employment with a public registry - I think it's counter productive. Furthermore, do you think someone who is 18,19,20 who has sex with a 15 year old, should be subject to life long sex offender registration? What about juveniles (13, 14) who have victimized kids half their age. Lifelong punishment appropriate?

drundge1 karma

1.) I still believe that certain sex offense crimes warrant public information sharing and therefore the registry is appropriate. Generally, those that include violence and recidivism. "Viewable to LEO only" is redundant, as we have a wealth of criminal history database and computer systems that provide us this information anyway. So I think you might mean there either should be a registry or there shouldn't.

2.) Absolutely. I've touched on this in another response, but these are some of the common issues I have some concern over. Especially regarding the example of the 18/19/20 year old having sex with a 15 year old or similar. These convictions are more common than one would think. However, at least in my state, these individuals are generally not registered for life. A variety of sexual offense convictions carry the ability to petition to be removed from the registry early. Really, it is only the highest tier of offenders (Tier III) that must register for life. These offenses include, "recidivists, sexually violent predators, and persons convicted of an aggravated offense". But again, this is my state's requirements and this can vary greatly from state to state. I can only comment on my own state and the federal gov'ts (SORNA and the Wetterling Act) requirements. Some states are far more punitive than others. The states are simply required to adopt SORNA at a minimum. They can add on more restrictions if they so choose. I am absolutely against the notion that any and all sex offenses should require lifetime registration. In regards to SORNA, it established the three tier system. I can get into that later if needed.

3.) In regards to children that commit sexual offenses, I really can't comment. I have never dealt with child/minor perpetrators. I would love to read more on this topic though.

KingSilver1 karma

what are some drugs you can buy legally, that you inform people to stay away from? where are the places you you buy them, that you tell people to avoid? how much do they cost?... for science.

drundge1 karma

If it's legal as far as the federal government is concerned, I technically can't tell them not to consume it. However, they do have a condition that requires them to follow the directions of the officer. Therefore, I'd have a fairly good case to take back to court even if the substance was legal if I could make a reasonable argument as to why it impedes the offender's course of supervision.

As to what legal substances are out there, google can tell.

KingSilver1 karma

I technically can't tell them not to consume it

but you're a probation officer, isn't it your job to tell people coming out of prison not to do drugs and break laws so they don't end back up in prison? or do you just suggest them not to do drugs?

drundge2 karma

We still talking "legal" drugs or illegal? Obviously illegal drugs are prohibited and any use is a violation of their conditions of supervision. But if there happens to be a new and technically legal drug out there, my footing isn't too firm. As I said, I can advise them against it, and if I have proof of use, I can certainly use that and any negative behavior as cause to go back to court to let a judge decide what needs to happen.

Bearlove101 karma

My father had a good friend that worked in a prison. He would often say that he felt like a prisoner too at times because he was locked in there as well, not getting much sun, and living in a prisoners world. Did you feel like that when you worked in the Juvinenile detention center?

drundge1 karma

Yes. It was a pervasive feeling, especially when you work 12 hour shifts. Everything you do is tied to what the juveniles do. So yeah, after working there a very short time, you tend to feel locked right there with them. The only time I felt like I was broken free of that was when I manned the console room that operated all the doors. That was like a massive break in a 12 hour day.

The one great time where we all broke free was on the yard. In the spring/summer we'd get the boys together and all play flag football. The kids finally acted like normal kids and the officers got to play with them. That was always a blast.

_Stappy1 karma

Pretty late to this but hopefully you're still able to answer, just wondering what your thoughts on marijuana are? Do you agree with the direction it's going in and its legalization in some states? And do you think people should be placed on probation for using it?

drundge1 karma

I still find myself divided on marijuana. In a selfish way, I'm tired of dealing with people who just use marijuana. It's become so common place that I wish I didn't have to keep sending people to treatment and eventually back to court for testing positive for marijuana. On the other side, I've had my fair share of stoners that are almost despicably lazy because of their use. They have zero drive in life and it is at least partly due to their level of marijuana use. I dealt with this a lot more at the state level than I do now federally. Further than that, I have VERY few offenders that consume marijuana because they just want to enjoy a little chill time. They use because of other serious stressors in their life and their marijuana use is clearly a poor coping mechanism, but usually one of the only mechanisms they have. So again, I'm getting a specific subset of marijuana users that certainly do not reflect "normal" marijuana use across the nation.

I will say that I really wish the fed gov't would at least reschedule marijuana down from Sch I. There has been some movement in this area, but this is long overdue and needs to be done quickly. At the very least, a less restrictive scheduling will give more access to research bodies to really dive into this area.

I feel for states that still have marijuana as an illegal substance, it's appropriate to be sentenced to probation for certain marijuana offenses and levels of possession. I agree fully with decriminalization of marijuana and believe a large amount of marijuana offenses should simply result in citations. For serious, repeat offenders and higher levels of possession, I do think a period of probation is appropriate.

I will say that having gone federal, the US Attorneys office (at least in my neck of the woods) pretty much won't take on any marijuana cases, even if it's trafficking or fairly large amounts of marijuana. It isn't worth their time when they're facing interstate cases of cocaine, heroin, meth, etc. In the past year, I have not seen a single federal case involving marijuana. The fed gov't is realizing that it just isn't worth it to pursue, so they generally leave it to the states to handle as needed unless it is just a monster case.

Edit: I'll also say that having interacted with similarly-aged officers/coworkers, most of them share my viewpoints as listed above. I think we'll see more and more trends towards decriminalization and legalization as our generation (and subsequent ones) become more involved in politics and policy making.

PassTheSaltSir1 karma

How many years of college does it take to be a cop?

drundge1 karma

I'm not a cop, so I can't provide that info. Most state probation officer positions require a four year college degree though. Many departments are beginning to seek applicants with graduate degrees.

sooovad1 karma

I've been applying to some law enforcement jobs on USAJobs, but it seems that US Probation jobs aren't usually listed on that site. Would you say that applying in general is similar though (i.e. what the resume should look like)?

Also, what is the job like in terms of carrying a weapon, etc. Are you sworn federal law enforcement? Does it vary from district to district?

Thanks for your time!

drundge1 karma

US Probation postings aren't listed on USAJobs. All USPO jobs are posted on our own website. Check here:


Search for "probation" and you'll see all open vacancies across the US. Hope that helps. The application is somewhat similar to other fed LE agencies, but probably not as rigorous as some. You'll still do many similar things, such as the SF86 and a bunch of HR forms. Your resume (depending on district) can be at your own creation. Doesn't need to follow any specific format unless the specific district tells you to.

Yes, we are sworn law enforcement. There are 94 districts across the US and local policies are made by the probation office and their chief judge. The chief judge has final say on pretty much everything we do. We work at the court's pleasure. I think it's like one or two districts remain that are not armed. The vast majority are armed, but each district can tweak policies as they see fit. We're required to conceal carry while on duty. That includes badge, OC, cuffs, mags, firearm, etc. All concealed. We're supposed to blend and be non-nondescript.

Legatus931 karma

Who was the most interesting/strangest person you've met?

drundge2 karma

Ah, lots of interesting people. People from all walks of life (also my favorite part of this job).

Strangest would be a bit unfair of a term... but I will say that one guy I supervise currently is a bit strange, but I do like him. He walked into a bank on day and told the teller very calmly that he has a gun and wants money. Teller gave him around $1500 and off he walked, calm as a cucumber. He was apprehended only about two blocks away in an alley, counting the money, and put up no fight whatsoever. He had voices telling him to rob a bank and go as far out west as possible. I've been with him for about a year, and he will NOT engage in conversation. I have to ask him a direct question for him to speak. I've tried everything with him, just to hear him speak a little. Nothing. "How are you doing?" will result in a "..mm..." I have to ask, "So you're doing good today?" That will result in a "yes, I'm good." And so forth and so on... I've been doing my damnedest to get him with social services due to his mental functioning, but transportation is a huge issue (he's waaaay out in the country).

I've temporarily supervised a grand wizard with the KKK. He was an interesting fella.

I supervised a kid now that I find very interesting, in a sad way. He is on pre-trial supervision for possessing a weapon of mass destruction (big pipe bomb, allegedly). He's got multiple health issues that I've been working with him on.

Oh, I also supervise a guy who got a DUI in Washington, DC. Ultra rare, as we never supervise these types of offenses unless they occur on federal property. And this one did. The federal property in question? The Pentagon. Apparently it isn't that difficult to get on these premises while intoxicated.

atlashemlock7 karma

Can you elaborate on the KKK Grand Wizard? Did you have any conversations with him where his beliefs started to come through?

drundge4 karma

Since I was only temporarily supervising him while his main officer was on leave, I didn't get a ton of time to dive into his history. A lot of his upbringing was available on his presentence report though, which shed a light. As expected, a lot of this was due to the culture of his upbringing, which was reinforced through his teen years. He took the classic stance of "I don't hate black people, I just think we need our own, exclusive areas to live and breed in." The whole "I'm-not-racist-I-just-think-cultures-should-be-exclusive".

atlashemlock1 karma

In your reply to /u/U4EADonovan's question you said you wouldn't mind having chosen IT as a career; did you do any training or education in IT, or is it just an interest?

drundge1 karma

Just an interest. I've done some formal classes in Python and HTML, but not too much else. Most other IT training I get now a days is via my own free time/boredom or via the limited IT-related training I get with the feds (I push for more all the time).

Svusoccer551 karma

What is the biggest perk of being a federal officer?

drundge7 karma

Things get done when you drop "federal". It's silly to admit, but it does work. When I was a state PO, it took a ton of pull just to get law enforcement to help me sometimes. Even to get records at county clerks offices and such. But when I say federal, I generally get things done faster. Also, in my state, we have an integrated law enforcement records system. We can add public watchlists. So when a police officer pulls over a guy I supervise, he'll see my name, federal probation,and my phone number. Same thing with state PO's. But guess who law enforcement calls? The feds, not the state guys. It's a real shame, as all PO's need this collaboration and notice. But when "federal" is in there, people move. I don't take advantage of this fact, but I have noted it.

Outside of that, when compared to my state job, the pay, benefits, career track, training, and retirement are all better.

We also tend to get "more interesting" cases (depending on what you deem interesting). Lots of cooky federal crimes, large drug distributions, interstate crimes, white collar crimes, etc. Maybe that is good, maybe bad, maybe neutral. I enjoy the federal cases I get though.

katrinald1 karma

How many cases do you typically handle? How many fall through the cracks due to time constraints? Do you think the incarceration system rehabilitates anyone?

drundge4 karma

As a state PO, we were extremely overworked in my area of the country. When I left I had around 100 cases. Studies conducted by the state showed that we shouldn't carry any more than 60 to effectively supervise. It was awful. Pretty much "Hey, how you doing. Paying fines? Any huge fires to put ok? Okay, see you." We really couldn't do the job required.

With the feds, I'm sitting around 50. I can actually spend appropriate time with my offenders who need services and give more time to those with a lot of issues. Also, as a sex offender officer, I have a somewhat reduced caseload, as sex offenders require a slightly higher level of supervision.

Incarceration rehabilitates SOME. Anyone who says that incarceration does nothing has never spoken to former offenders. I've had offenders who swear up and down to me that incarceration was the event that dedicated them to change. That "change event" is the thing I look for in each and every offender. Once they realize when they need to make a change, it is extremely significant. And a lot of guys look me dead in the eyes and say, "Prison was horrible. But it made me WANT to change."

Could our incarceration system do better to rehabilitate? Oh hell yes. Certain offenders are beyond assistance, in my honest opinion. But the vast majority can benefit from services and need them. But what does it come down to most of the time? Money. And for a politician to be promoting social programs in prison? Shit, it might as well be suicide. I do believe that once a generation rises up that EXPECTS this promotion from politicians, we will see change.

michigandad1 karma

Was there a case that made you question the system?

drundge3 karma

To a certain extent, yes. Not so much with the federal system, as these offenders are almost always federally indicted and have a massive load of evidence against them. It is fairly cut and dry. But at the state level, I found many cases that had me questioning the job. Charges such as driving with license revoked. Then they get hit with court costs and a fine. Sometimes they have to PAY to conduct community services. They end up needing to pay $600/700/800 at times. And to expect a guy making minimum wage with a criminal record to pay that is insane. I felt like a collections agent at times. That made me question my job. But again, this was at the state level and didn't happen all too terribly often.

On the same token, when I was a state PO, we had certain police officers practically harass guys with traffic infractions. Here I am supervising a guy who finally gets a job and is trying to get enough money to pay off all his traffic fines. What do the cops in the rural county do? They know when he goes to work and comes home and wait for him in their patrol area. Rack up five, six, seven driving while license revoked charges and then I'm forced to go back to court to tell a judge there are new criminal offenses. Yes, he is guilty, but it just sucks.

daster7141 karma

Who's the most frustrating person you've had to deal with, and why?

drundge4 karma

Usually the most frustrating are those that are on electronic monitoring. It's not entirely their fault (just mostly). EM is a pain in the ass for the officer 9 times out of 10.

Individually, I never really see a person as the most frustrating. Really, the most frustrating person is simply the one that is not ready or willing for change. No one who sits in front of me is perfect and unneeding of some type of change, whether major or minor. Those that absolutely reject the idea that they need to change a part of their life are nightmares. They fail to report, they don't respect a shred of authority, they generally don't even care for their family, they are lazy, they have no drive, they give no input, they don't engage... Those are the career criminals most of the time.

I had one guy that was the epitome of frustrating. Wouldn't report on time (or at all sometimes). Lied to me at all times. No job and didn't want one. Young and arrogant. Blamed me in open court for all of his problems. Was just awful. And I really tried with this guy. I gave him all resources I had in my book. I tried to be casual with him to try to break down barriers. I was respectful and let him talk when he wanted to. Was just an awful human being.

Also, several of my sex offenders are frustrating because they are great at deception and denial. That's a whole different topic...

cynicalSOB1 karma

Do you think that violent offenders are born bad or made that way by society?

drundge4 karma

I don't believe anyone is born "bad". I do believe that people can inherit certain genetic characteristics that may make them more prone to certain behaviors which could, given the right circumstances, lead to criminal behavior down the line. However, I firmly believe most criminal behavior is learned and reinforced by various factors. I could go on and on diving into this topic. There are hundreds of books and journal articles out there on this topic. Many college classes devoted to examining this in depth. It's a continuing discussion that has no end in sight.

ifwecouldopenoureyes1 karma

As a person studying to become a therapist in the prison system, do you have any advice for me?

drundge2 karma

Don't become disillusioned. Get more training all the time. Partner with all available resources. Know that you're doing an important job few others want.

the_c00ler_king1 karma

What is your favourite type of pie?

drundge2 karma

Ugh, difficult question. I'd go with apple. Side of vanilla bean ice cream.

theOmnipotentKiller-2 karma

Is Crime in America a fault of the government or people?

drundge2 karma

Crime is the fault of the person who makes the choice to engage in illegal activity. There are grey areas for sure, nothing is absolute, but in the end, a decision was made.

theOmnipotentKiller-1 karma

I am stressing on Crimes which have been committed due to loopholes in the law.

drundge1 karma

Like what? Give me an example and we can discuss it further.

Obnoxiouscat1-7 karma

Have you ever walked in on 2 inmates fucking eachother in the ass? or somebody getting raped? (Full on question I know but very curious)

drundge2 karma

I'm a probation officer, so I'm not in a prison. I work in the community supervising offenders that have completed their prison term. I have spoken to offenders who have told stories about violence in prison, but I don't go down that road too often.

silkcocoa-24 karma

Glorified mall cop? No thanks.

drundge13 karma

Aw, sorry you got a chip on your shoulder man. You also have a bit of ignorance as you don't understand what we do. Read further and you might learn why this is a crucial job in the criminal justice system. Take care :)