Many people who are convicted of crimes are placed on probation instead of being sent to prison. During probation, offenders must stay out of trouble and meet various other requirements imposed by the sentencing. Probation Officers supervise people who have been placed on probation. Parole Officers perform many of the same duties that Probation Officers perform. However, Parole Officers supervise offenders who have been released from prison on parole to ensure that they comply with the conditions of their parole that are ordered by the Parole Board. Probation and Parole Officers supervise offenders on probation or parole through personal contact with the offender, collateral agencies, and his or her family. Some offenders are required to wear an electronic device so that Probation Officers can monitor their activities. Officers may arrange for offenders to get substance abuse rehabilitation or job training. They also attend court hearings to update the court on the offender's compliance with the terms of his or her sentence and on the offender's efforts at rehabilitation.
Probation Officers also conduct pre-sentence investigations for the court. They investigate the background of offenders brought before the court, write pre-sentence reports, and make sentencing recommendations for each offender. Officers may be required to testify in court as to their findings and recommendations.
Probation Officers work with criminal offenders, some of whom may be dangerous. Probations officers in North Dakota are licensed peace officers and must successfully complete the North Dakota Law Enforcement Basic Training course. In the course of supervising offenders, they usually interact with many other individuals, such as family members and friends of their clients, who may be angry, upset, or difficult to work with. Workers may be assigned to fieldwork in high crime areas where there is a risk of violence. Probation Officers are required to meet many deadlines, most of which are imposed by courts, which contributes to their heavy workloads. All of these factors contribute to a stressful work environment. Although the high stress levels can make these jobs very difficult at times, they also can be very rewarding. Many workers obtain personal satisfaction from counseling members of their community and helping them become productive citizens.
NOTE: The duties listed are not intended to be all-inclusive. Duties assigned any individual employee are at the discretion of the appointing authority.