Real Talk w/CJ: Juvenile Probation Officer

Real Talk with CJ

Thu Feb 7, 2013
2:00 pm - 3:00pm
Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom

As the largest probation office for youth in Texas, the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department covers a broad range of services, including a juvenile detention center; residential rehabilitation programs; specialized caseloads for those with mental health, substance abuse or sexual offenses; mental health services for youth and their families; and general probation services for juvenile offenders in the Houston area.

Juvenile detention center staff team up with the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Council to promote Designation Dignity Day.
Juvenile detention center staff team up with the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Council to promote Designation Dignity Day.

“We have a wide range of programs and services,” said Lupe Washington, Administrator for Public Affairs for the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. “To work in juvenile probation, we want people who have a passion and compassion for working with young people. They need to be willing to listen and be non-judgmental. They need to do thorough evaluations and have a heart for kids.”

Washington will discuss the many career opportunities available in juvenile probation during the Real Talk w/CJ on Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. in the Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom. She also offer tips on how to get those jobs after graduation. The presentation will be carried live on the Web at www.cjcenter.org/live.

Harris County Juvenile Probation has about 1,200 employees, who handle approximately 16,000 referrals annually for youth from 10 to 17 years old with offenses ranging from misdemeanors, such as theft over $50, criminal mischief and simple assaults, to felonies, such as capital murder, robbery, and aggravated assault.
In addition to over 270 juvenile probation officers, the department employs a wide variety of professionals, including social workers, psychologists, nurses, psychiatrists, and budget officers, to name a few. There are many career paths available in the agency, but it also serves as a stepping stone into other jobs, such as the DEA, FBI, and U.S. Marshals Service.


Lupe Washington
At Harris County Juvenile Probation, there are many avenues for graduates to pursue. The Department operates four facilities, including the juvenile detention center serving high risk youth before trial; the Leadership Academy in Katy, a secure, residential facility for boys; the Harris County Youth Village, a non-secure residential unit for boys and girls in Seabrook; and the Burnett Bayland Rehabilitation Center in Southwest Houston, which provides specialized treatment programs for drug offenders, sex offenders, psychiatric stabilization cases, and general populations. Individuals with at least 60 college credit hours may apply to work as juvenile supervision officers at one of the county facilities. Additionally, the department operates its own charter school in the four county facilities and employs teachers and principals.

Probationers from the Female Intervention Program participate in the ROPES Course at Tejano Community Center.
Probationers from the Female Intervention Program participate in the ROPES Course at Tejano Community Center.
It also provides probation services for youth released in the community, which included specialized caseloads for drug offenders, sex offenders, gang members and those with mental health issues. Each probation officer averages caseloads of 30 youth. Because the department is so large, it also offers its own mental health services to youth and their families.
There are opportunities for jobs at every stage of the process, whether it is serving as intake officers for cases coming into court, preparing social history reports for judges, supervising youth in residential placement, monitoring youth on the streets, or providing counseling to youth and families.

“It’s pretty varied,” said Washington. “Even if you work with us in one area, you can also learn about other areas in the department.”

While many jobs only require a college degree, probation officers need a four year degree and one year of experience. Washington encourages students to get experience working with non-profits agencies or participating in an internship with a juvenile probation office while you are still in college to get a head start on your career. “It can be volunteer work, or we count internship hours towards that experience,” Washington said. “Just go ahead and volunteer at an agency or in an area that you want to concentrate.”

In partnership with Corridor Rescue, boys at the Harris County Leadership Academy learn to train and care for rescue dogs through Project H.E.E.L. Fourteen youth and six dog participated in the inaugural program and four of the dogs were adopted.

In partnership with Corridor Rescue, boys at the Harris County Leadership Academy learn to train and care for rescue dogs through Project H.E.E.L. Fourteen youth and six dog participated in the inaugural program and four of the dogs were adopted.
The internship program with SHSU has been highly successful, leading to new opportunities in diversion programs and human resources for students.

“You have a great internship program and some of our best interns have come from Sam Houston,” Washington said.

Washington also advises students to stay out of trouble. Harris County Juvenile Probation will not hire people with a misdemeanor conviction in the last five years or a felony conviction in the prior 10 year period. Washington also suggests that students research the agencies where they want to work to find out the qualifications to get a job.

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