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Role of the Probation Officer

The U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System carries out probation and pretrial services functions in the U.S. district courts. Through its officers and other employees, the system works to make the criminal justice process effective and the public safe.

The system's mission reflects its dedication to serve the community, the courts, and the people who come before the courts. The system's Charter for Excellence states the shared professional identity, goals, and values of probation and pretrial services officers.

Act with integrity. Demonstrate commitment to and passion for our mission. Be effective stewards of public resources. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. Promote fairness in process and excellence in service to the courts and the community. Work together to foster a collegial environment. Be responsible and accountable.

Probation Officer:
In the 94 federal judicial districts nationwide, U.S. probation officers play an integral role in the administration of justice. Probation officers serve as the community corrections arm of the federal court system. They provide to the court two important services: investigation and supervision. U.S. probation officers make an important contribution to the federal criminal justice process. Their mission is to investigate and supervise an individual under supervision whom the courts have conditionally released to the community on probation, parole, or supervised release. By serving as the court's fact-finder, controlling the risk an individual under supervision may pose to public safety, and providing an individual under supervision with correctional treatment, officers help ensure that individuals previously convicted of crime obey the law rather than commit further crime. Officers' responsibilities require them to work not only with federal judges and other court professionals, but with U.S. attorneys, defense attorneys, Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Parole Commission officials, state and local law enforcement agents, treatment providers, and community leaders. Officers deliver services that benefit the court, the community, and the individual under supervision.

Pretrial Services Officer:
As community corrections professionals, probation officers preparing presentence reports possess and use skills from various disciplines to investigate relevant facts about an individual under supervision; assess those facts in light of the purposes of sentencing; apply the appropriate guidelines, statutes, and rules to the available facts; and provide clear, concise, and objective reports that will assist the sentencing judges in determining appropriate sentences, aid the Bureau of Prisons in making classification, designation and programming decisions, and assist the probation officer during supervision of the individual under supervision in the community.

Probation Officer Assistant:
Help probation and pretrial services officers carry out investigation and supervision duties, providing assistance and technical support in a wide range of areas. Perform such tasks as gathering information, preparing reports, and drafting correspondence related to cases. Supervise low-risk individuals under supervision, performing some of the same duties as officers, only under closer supervision.