What is Probation?
When an offender is placed on probation, he or she is court-ordered to follow certain conditions set forth by the sentencing court. A grant of probation is a privilege, not a right. Offenders on supervised probation are under the supervision of a probation officer. They are required to remain employed, pay fines, fees, and restitution, and refrain from possessing firearms or using illegal drugs. Sanctions for violating conditions of probation can range from verbal or written reprimands to incarceration.
Some offenders may be ordered to abide by a curfew, live at a specific residence, or remain in the jurisdiction unless approval to leave is obtained from a probation officer. The whereabouts of high-risk sex offenders on probation are monitored with an electronic monitoring device, often worn on the wrist or ankle.
Probationers are usually ordered to refrain from contact with their victims (such as a former partner in a domestic violence case), with potential victims of similar crimes (such as minors, if the instant offense involves child sexual abuse), or with known criminals, particularly co-defendants. Other restrictions can include a ban on possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages, even if alcohol was not involved in the original offense.
Also, offenders can be ordered to submit to random alcohol or drug testing and participate in substance abuse treatment or psychological counseling. Offenders are frequently ordered to perform community service work (community restitution), or they may be ordered to serve jail time as an initial condition of probation.
In Arizona, adult and juvenile probation and surveillance officers are peace officers and can be authorized to carry a firearm. Within the scope of supervising persons on probation, these officers have statutory authority to serve warrants, make arrests, and perform other duties of a peace officer.
The La Paz County Probation Department is a combined Adult and Juvenile Probation Department. We are an organization operating under the direction of the Chief Probation Officer, appointed by the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court.
The La Paz County Department of Juvenile Court Services provides youth, victims, and families with the resources and tools for achieving success through a seamless solution-based continuum of care. We provide public safety under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court and redirect juveniles to become more accountable for their actions.
Pursuant to Arizona Law, Rules of Criminal Procedure and administrative directives, the La Paz County Probation Department provides investigative and evidence-based supervisory services for the adult and juvenile offender populations. These services include the following:
Diversion is a method of avoiding prosecution of a juvenile offender. The underlying purpose is to divert youth from the formal court process by allowing them to admit to the allegations contained in the referral and receive a consequence for that action.
Juvenile Probation provides treatment and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders by ensuring juveniles and their families receive the most appropriate service and/or treatment interventions while collaborating with treatment programming. The Probation Department reaches out to the community offering prevention education with civic organizations and the schools. Children placed on Standard Probation and Juvenile Intensive Probation Services (JIPS) are supervised in our community and the Juvenile Probation Officers help create change thought and hope for each child's future.
Probation is a court-ordered sanction that allows a person to remain in the community under the supervision of a probation officer. The conditions of this community-based supervision can vary. It could include jail time, fines, restitution, community service, or other sanctions. Probation can also require counseling, drug/alcohol restrictions, weapons restrictions and offender reporting to their probation officer. If the person does not follow the rules of their probation, they could go back before a judge and be sent to jail or prison. The mission of probation is to ensure public safety. There are several specific caseloads of Adult Probation:
- Seriously Mentally ill (SMI) - Includes diversionary mechanisms, such as community-based mental health treatment programs instead of prison or jail, Community-based reentry programs providing coordinated services and case management for mentally ill offenders transitioning into the community, and policies that provide mentally ill offenders with increased access to medical and mental health care, allowing for opportunities for success on probation for those probationers diagnosed with a serious mental illness, traumatic brain injury (TBI), dementia, or a severe developmental disability. Probation works with the Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) and the Provider Network's case managers to achieve stability for the offender in the community and reduce their risk to re-offend.
- Sex Offender - Due to the unique risk/needs of sex offenders, there is a separate unit to manage sex offender supervision and programming. Supervision Levels are based on factors, which include risk assessment looking at static, dynamic, and acute factors. Other factors considered include but are not limited to treatment progress, integration of treatment into daily living, Arizona State statutes, La Paz County policy, and notification level. Programming includes outpatient sex offender treatment, aftercare treatment, education classes for offenders and classes to educate family, friends and other support persons of offenders, and the polygraph.
- Veteran's Court - The Veterans Court model requires regular court appearances (a bi-weekly minimum in the early phases of the program), as well as mandatory attendance at treatment sessions and frequent and random testing for substance use (drug and/or alcohol). Probation works closely with the Attorneys, Judges, Veteran's Administration and Veteran's Justice Outreach Specialist, and treatment providers helping to link veterans with the programs, benefits, and services they have earned.
INTENSIVE PROBATION SUPERVISION (IPS):
An alternative sentence for violent or chronic offenders who would otherwise have been sentenced to the Arizona Department of Corrections, or as a result of a technical violation of standard probation. Intensive Probation Supervision (IPS) provides strict control through monitoring and surveillance of the offender's movement and activities in the community while emphasizing the payment of restitution to victims. Offenders submit weekly schedules of their whereabouts that is then verified through conducting field visits at least two times per week for level II clients. The number of contacts may be reduced as the offender is modified through the Intensive Probation Supervision phases. Offenders are required by statute to be employed, to submit their paychecks to Intensive Probation Supervision, and to complete forty (40) hours of community restitution per month. Offenders who successfully complete Intensive Probation Supervision are modified to Standard Probation to finish out their term.