Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week is a time to recognize and celebrate the dedicated and caring individuals in your community who work tirelessly to make your neighborhoods safer and more vibrant places to live and rear families. These professionals are on duty each and every day to assist juvenile and adult offenders in becoming better citizens with productive lives.

During the week of July 19-25, the essential responsibilities performed by probation, parole and community supervision professionals will be honored nationwide.

Today in America, there are over 5 million adults on community supervision, and most of these individuals are monitored by pretrial, probation and parole officers. Monitoring may take the form of home contacts, drug testing, making sure the offender attends counseling sessions and helping offenders to find suitable housing and employment. Many officers also supervise offenders using electronic monitoring equipment, which requires expert knowledge of newer technologies.

Amid a worldwide pandemic, financial uncertainty and political chaos, it is important we pause this week to recognize and honor the dedicated staff of the Juvenile Court Services and the Adult Probation Department. These departments provide a critical service to the citizens of Pinal County.

In FY 2020, 1,541 youths were referred to Juvenile Court. The majority of cases are managed in the Diversion Program, with a 94% success rate. Of those youths placed on probation, we yielded an 86% success rate. The use of detention has decreased by 17% compared to last year.

Pinal County Juvenile Court Services continues to remain at the “cutting edge” of juvenile justice reform. Probation staff manage their caseloads through the “lens” of evidence-based practices. The department priorities are to promote positive youth development, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, leverage professional partnerships and engage youths and families through the lens of re-imagining juvenile justice. We do recognize that youths of color are overrepresented. Educating staff and system/community partners on reducing racial and ethnic disparities supports our efforts in establishing positive outcomes for youths of color.

Juvenile Court Services oversees Court Appointed Special Advocates and dependency programs that provide services to dependent children who have been abused and/or neglected. The Dependency Alternative Program recently implemented is designed to reduce the number of dependency petitions and children in care by providing legal alternatives to a dependency. In addition, CASA staff mentored nearly 93 volunteers. The volunteers, combined, have provided 4,000 volunteer hours and served 179 children.

Juvenile Court Services provides a variety of prevention and intervention services for youths and families in Pinal County. Community engagement and developing partnerships is critical to our success as we continue to move forward with our reform efforts in all areas of the organization.

Nearly 3,000 individuals are supervised daily by the Pinal County Adult Probation Department. The dedicated staff of PCAPD work diligently to fulfill the department’s mission, which is “Provide Opportunities for Positive Change to Improve Lives and Build Stronger Communities.” Active community supervision represents the most effective and fiscally responsible alternative to imprisonment. By focusing on skill-building, changing thinking patterns and providing effective treatment interventions, probation officers are able to facilitate long-term positive change in individuals under supervision.

Over 80% of persons on adult supervision in Pinal County successfully complete their term of probation. Probation officers have also helped restore victims by collecting nearly $400,000 in restitution over the past year. Despite the burgeoning prison population and the financial impact imprisonment has on the state budget, the state Legislature has consistently underfunded probation departments throughout Arizona. PCAPD is fortunate to have a supportive Board of Supervisors, a visionary presiding judge and many community partners who have helped us achieve our mission despite the budget challenges faced.

As we move forward to face the uncertainty in the upcoming year and beyond, the women and men of PCAPD will continue to leverage our collaborative relationships, commitment to evidence-based practices and passion to ensure the people we supervise are afforded the resources and opportunities to make positive changes in their lives and avoid the irreparable harm caused by imprisonment and additional crime.

Members of our community are encouraged to join together during Pretrial, Probation, Parole Supervision Week to honor those who work to make our communities a safer place to live.

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Donna McBride is public information officer for Pinal County Juvenile Court.

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