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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Parole and Probation Officers and Related Occupations(4155)

Probation officers monitor the conduct and behaviour of criminal offenders serving probation terms. Parole officers monitor the reintegration of criminal offenders serving the remainder of sentences while conditionally released into the community on parole. Classification officers assess inmates and develop rehabilitation programs for criminal offenders who are incarcerated in correctional facilities. They are employed by federal and provincial governments and work in the community and in correctional facilities.

Reading Help - Reading
  • may skim short text entries in logbooks. For example, classification officers may read correction officers' logbook entries to learn about the actions of offenders while in custody. (1)
  • Read about treatment and employment programs, community events and workshops in bulletins, brochures and other marketing materials. For example, they may read brochures to learn about treatment programs available for addicted offenders. They may also read bulletins to learn about professional development opportunities. (2)
  • Read case management notes. They learn about offenders' behaviours, treatment program successes, progress being made toward goals and the conclusions and recommendations of others who have interacted with offenders. (2)
  • Read short e-mail, memos and text entries in forms. For example, they read memos and e-mail from co-workers and supervisors to learn about upcoming meetings and changes to policy. Classification officers may read text written in request forms to learn about offenders' requests for meetings and complaints. (2)
  • Read various reports and orders. For example, parole officers read pre-sentence reports to learn about offenders' backgrounds, upbringings, criminal histories, education, cognitive abilities, addictions and mental health concerns. Probation officers read probation, conditional sentence and disposition orders to learn about the terms and conditions of probations. They also read police reports to learn about new charges being laid against offenders. (3)
  • Read policy and procedural manuals. For example, they read procedural manuals to learn how offenders are to be treated from the time they are charged to when convicted and remanded into custody. They refer to policy manuals to learn their organizations' rules governing items such as caseloads, hours of work and sick leave. (4)
  • Read textbooks, research papers and journal articles to learn about new therapeutic approaches, criminal mindsets and factors such as alcohol and drug use which influence criminal behaviours. For example, they may read research articles about the mental and physical characteristics of violent offenders and the attitudes, crime cycles and habits of sexual offenders. (4)
  • Read lengthy psychological, psychiatric and criminogenic risk assessments. For example, they read psychological assessments to learn about offenders' cognitive functionings, interests, personality styles and mental health conditions such as borderline personality disorders, anxiety and depression. (5)
  • Read and interpret criminal justice Acts and codes. For example, probation officers may refer to sections and sub-sections of the Criminal Code of Canada to identify the seriousness of criminal charges and the minimum and maximum lengths of sentences available to the courts. Parole officers may read sections of the Corrections Act and the Prison and Reformatories Act to understand offenders' rights and responsibilities. (5)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Locate data on product labels. For example, they may scan labels on medications to identify drug names, expiry dates and dosages. (1)
  • Scan lists and tables to locate data such as contact information, identification numbers and sentence durations. For example, classification officers scan tracking schedules to locate names, inmate identification numbers, classifications and dates of admittance, transfer and release. (2)
  • Locate data in entry forms. For example, youth probation officers scan report cards to understand how young offenders are performing in school. (2)
  • May interpret genograms. For example, youth probation officers may scan genograms and other family relationship diagrams to identify offenders' significant family relationships. (2)
  • May locate data in graphs. For example, they may locate offenders' cognitive percentile rankings and statistics such as incarceration, crime and recidivism rates in graphs. (2)
  • Complete a variety of lengthy entry forms such as for breach of probation, transfer and release. They record inmate identification numbers, dates, order numbers and deadlines. They also enter text and check boxes to indicate risk factors, issues and types of breaches, transfers, releases and leaves. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • May write reminders. For example, parole officers may write notes in daybooks to remind themselves of upcoming meetings and court dates. (1)
  • Write brief e-mail and notes to co-workers and colleagues. For example, they may e-mail co-workers and supervisors to request information on offenders and to schedule meetings. They may also write short notes to inform colleagues about new employment programs. (2)
  • Write case management notes. They record meeting events and outcomes, their observations about progress made, matters for follow-up and information such as offenders' health problems, living conditions and concerns. The information is of sufficient detail for use in court proceedings. (3)
  • Write letters to offenders, their parents, co-workers, employers, parole boards, management review committees and colleagues such as psychiatrists and psychologists. For example, they may write letters to businesses to confirm the employment of offenders and to community-based organizations to support offenders' applications. They also write letters to offenders and their parents to remind them of upcoming proceedings and to inform them of consequences for breached probations. (3)
  • Write rehabilitation plans. For example, youth probation officers may write rehabilitation plans to identify the goals and objectives to be achieved by offenders and the resources such as counselling that are required. (3)
  • Write a variety of sentencing and pre-sentencing, risk assessment, progress and classification reports. For example, classification officers write short classification reports to record offenders' past convictions, levels of education and family backgrounds and to summarize events since their incarcerations. Probation officers write pre-sentencing reports for the courts that outline offenders' criminal histories, current charges, behavioural tendencies, observed improvements in behaviours and recommended treatments and incarceration options. (4)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • May use petty cash to purchase goods and services such as gasoline, taxi and parking. (1)
  • Calculate expense claims for travel, meals and accommodations. For example, they calculate reimbursements for using personal vehicles at set per kilometre rates and costs of meals using per diem rates. (2)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Schedule appointments with offenders and their families, co-workers, supervisors and colleagues such as psychologists and halfway house workers. They allocate realistic amounts of time for meetings and reschedule appointments to accommodate cancellations and urgent requests. (1)
  • Calculate start and end dates for offenders' incarceration and probation periods. For example, parole officers consider lengths of sentences, times already served and provisions for early release to calculate the probable offender release dates. They may present this information as timelines with markers for significant dates. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • May measure criminal risk factors using rating scales and assessment instruments. (2)
Data Analysis Math
  • May scan arrest and conviction data to determine crime trends. For example, parole officers may review rates of fraud crime by year, gender and region to determine trends. (1)
  • Collect data and calculate statistics to describe their activities and those of their offices and work units. For example, they may calculate statistics such as the total numbers of meetings held, caseload sizes and new offender counts. (2)
  • May analyze psychosocial test scores to assess the risks posed by offenders. For example, parole and probation officers may compare the results of criminogenic risk assessments to norms to determine offenders' degrees of antisocial personalities and attitudes. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate amounts of time required for interviews, meetings and court proceedings. They consider offenders' needs and the durations of previous interviews, meetings and court proceedings. (1)
  • May estimate the lengths of time it will take offenders to complete rehabilitation programs. For example, parole officers consider the severities of offenders' addictions to estimate treatment program lengths. Probation officers estimate how long it may take offenders to secure employment by considering labour market conditions and offenders' criminal background, education and work experience. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Talk to workers at employment and social service agencies to learn about their programs. For example, probation officers may talk to staff at substance abuse programs and halfway houses to learn about intake procedures, treatment programs and policies. (2)
  • Discuss ongoing work with supervisors and managers. They inform supervisors about their activities and situations involving high risk offenders. They discuss caseloads, reporting requirements, holiday cover-off, security protocols, workloads and work procedures. (2)
  • Discuss cases and clients with co-workers, supervisors, lawyers, police officers and other professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists. For example, parole and probation officers may discuss with psychologists and psychiatrists, assessment outcomes and the risks that offenders pose. They consult co-workers and colleagues such as support workers and counsellors to formulate treatment plans and coordinate their implementation. (3)
  • May lead training activities and give presentations. For example, classification officers in correctional institutions may lead workshops to introduce volunteers to institutional policies and procedures. Parole and probation officers may hold information sessions with high school students to discuss occupations and career opportunities in the criminal justice field. (3)
  • Answer questions and present their opinions, evaluations and recommendations during court hearings. They present precisely worded evidence at trials and respond factually to questions asked by lawyers, prosecutors and judges. (4)
  • Counsel offenders on a wide variety of topics. For example, they ask open-ended questions and listen actively to evaluate the effect of treatment plans and determine offenders' compliance with court orders. They use appropriate tones of voice and language to establish rapport, explain procedures, bolster self-confidence and otherwise engage offenders who are emotionally unstable, angry, defensive and fearful. They may assist offenders by offering constructive advice and suggestions for dealing effectively with family conflicts, addictions and anger. (4)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Find that offenders under their supervision cannot be monitored electronically because of shortages and breakdowns of monitoring equipment. They inform supervisors of the shortages and breakdowns and request the expedited delivery of replacement units. They ask police to do periodic checks until the equipment arrives. (1)
  • Are unable to complete legal and reporting documents because important information is missing. For example, they may be unable to complete pre-sentence reports because the results of psychiatric and psychological assessments are not available as scheduled. They contact the individuals responsible for the data and complete other work until the information arrives. (2)
  • May encounter offenders who lack the cognitive ability, language skills and maturity to understand sentences, court orders and instructions. They use plain language to explain court outcomes, supervision orders and expectations. They may use translators to communicate with offenders who do not speak either official language. (3)
  • Cannot fully implement offenders' rehabilitation plans and access community services due to long wait lists, resource shortages and uncooperative offenders. They help offenders develop contingency plans and provide them with interim support until the appropriate services are available. (4)
Decision Making
  • Choose times and locations for meetings which offenders must attend. For example, parole and probation officers consider the conditions stipulated in court orders, progress being shown by offenders and their own schedules to select the frequencies of offenders' mandatory meetings. (2)
  • May select offenders' security classifications. For example, classification officers decide what level of security should be assigned to offenders sentenced to provincial and federal correctional facilities. They consider offender backgrounds, risk assessment reports and conditions imposed by the courts. (2)
  • Select offenders' classifications and rehabilitation plans. For example, parole officers consider offenders' presenting problems, orders, rehabilitative needs, assessment results and availabilities of services before writing rehabilitation plans. They may refer offenders to programs operated by organizations such as the Elizabeth Fry Society after ensuring that needed supports are available. Classification officers decide that offenders can be transferred to lower level security facilities when they consider they are at lower risk of violence and criminal activity. (3)
  • May recommend the revocation of parole and probation orders. They consider the severity of probation and parole breaches and the risks the offenders pose to themselves and others. For example, parole officers may recommend that offenders be returned to prison after repeatedly acting aggressively toward others and breaching conditions of their parole orders. Probation officers may also recommend the revocation of probation orders after offenders engage in illegal activities. (4)
Critical Thinking
  • Evaluate risks to their personal safety. For example, parole and probation officers evaluate the risks to their safety when meeting with violent offenders. They consider offenders' backgrounds, meeting locations and their proximity to co-workers and colleagues such as police officers and prison guards. (1) , (daily)
  • Evaluate offenders' compliance to orders. For example, probation officers compare offenders' behaviours and achievements to those outlined in probation orders. They may judge the degree to which offenders have met requirements such as the injunction to secure employment and to seek counselling for addictions. (2)
  • May assess the suitability and appropriateness of rehabilitation services such as training programs, halfway houses and social service agencies. For example, parole officers consider the locations, mandates and accessibility of halfway houses when considering day parole options for offenders. Probation officers assess the suitability of training programs for offenders with limited work experience and education. (2)
  • Assess the accuracy and veracity of information gathered from offenders. For example, to assess the accuracy of offenders' statements, youth probation officers will compare information given by offenders to that gathered from reliable sources such as police, social workers and parents. (3)
  • Judge the effectiveness of treatment plans and interventions. They consider anecdotal evidence and information collected from offenders and their families, employers, teachers and social service agencies such as training programs. They study assessments completed by colleagues such as psychologists and psychiatrists and consider their own observations of offenders' behaviours and attitudes. (3)
  • Evaluate the risks posed by offenders. They consider information collected from offenders and colleagues, assessment results and their personal observations and intuitions to assess risks and evaluate supervision and treatments requirements. For example, parole officers study offenders' criminogenic risk assessments, results of rehabilitation plans and information collected from interviews with offenders and their families to assess their likelihood of recidivism. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Parole and probation officers and workers in related occupations organize their daily activities according to the caseloads assigned by courts, supervisors, managers and directors. They organize their own schedules and allocate sufficient times for scheduled visits with offenders, unannounced site visits, court appearances, meetings and administrative tasks such as recording meeting outcomes and report writing. They may be required to modify their schedules when high-risk offenders are missing and in crises. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember procedural sequences to follow when issuing orders and testifying at hearings.
  • Remember information about offenders such as names, addresses, backgrounds, conviction histories and details of previous conversations.
  • Remember key regulations and policies stipulated in Acts and codes such as the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code.
Finding Information
  • Locate information about community resources by searching local resource directories, consulting information available on the Internet and speaking with offenders, co-workers, colleagues, supervisors and the staff of community agencies. (2)
  • Locate information about offenders they supervise. They conduct interviews with offenders and observe their body language. They speak with other offenders, police officers, employers, co-workers, colleagues, friends and neighbours. They read logbooks, case management notes, court orders, and psychological, criminogenic risk and psychiatric assessments. (3)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use word processing software. For example, they use word processing applications such as Word and WordPerfect to write a variety of sentencing, risk assessment, progress and classification reports. They use templates to prepare form letters such as breach of probation notices and non-compliance orders. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, they may access their organizations' databases to complete case management files and to record expenses and meeting outcomes. They may input information such as names and identification numbers to locate information such as offenders' criminal histories, telephone numbers, addresses and lengths of probations and paroles. They may use databases to retrieve and print case management notes, logbook entries and shift summations. (2)
  • May use spreadsheets. For example, they may use spreadsheet applications such as Excel to organize data including hours worked and meetings held, and locate information about offenders such as release dates and to record and track expenses. (2)
  • Use communication software. For example, they use e-mail software such as Outlook to exchange messages with co-workers, supervisors and colleagues and to send and receive attachments such as court orders and assessment results. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they use browsers such as Internet Explorer and Netscape to locate information about training opportunities, treatment programs and community services. They may access password protected on-line databases and download research papers, articles and procedural manuals. They may use their organizations' intranet to access information about matters such as wages and benefits packages. They may enter identification numbers, times and coordinates into surveillance systems using global positioning satellite technology to track the activities of offenders and monitor curfews. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Parole and probation officers and other related workers coordinate and integrate job tasks primarily with colleagues such as psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in other organizations. Classification officers coordinate and integrate job tasks primarily with co-workers such as guards and life skills instructors within correctional facilities. (3)

Continuous Learning

Parole and probation officers and workers in related occupations must maintain knowledge of changes to various Acts and codes, available community resources and new treatment and counselling interventions. They attend conferences, seminars and workshops offered by post-secondary institutions, community organizations, professional associations, co-workers and colleagues. They read a variety of textbooks, research papers and articles to learn about new therapeutic approaches and factors influencing criminal behaviours. They speak with co-workers, supervisors and colleagues to learn about new approaches. They generally determine their own learning goals but may be required to participate in mandatory training assigned by their supervisors. (3)

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