Week recognizes work of parole, probation officers | SteamboatToday.com

Week recognizes work of parole, probation officers

— Most people know what a judge does, know what an attorney does and have an idea how the judicial system works. But far fewer people know the roles probation and parole officers play in a community.

This week, the Colorado Judicial Branch, which includes the 14th Judicial District, is recognizing “Probation, Parole and Community Service Week” as a means to recognize the value of probation and parole officers in the criminal justice system.

“Probation — a sentencing option for the court — and parole — for offender supervision after prison — are very important components of Colorado’s judicial system,” said Tom Quinn, the director of probation service in Colorado.

Dennis Martinez, the chief probation officer for the 14th Judicial District, said the eight probation officers, alcohol evaluators and victims advocates he supervises deserve recognition because of their devotion to their jobs to help offenders succeed.

“The community is lucky to have such really dedicated people working here. Some of them have been here for years, some of them just started,” he said. “One of my employees said it best — that we are stewards of the taxpayers’ money and funds. I think this department does an excellent job of being good stewards of the trust that is given to us.”

Martinez said the primary functions of the probation department are to work as an arm of the court and to supervise offenders who are put on probation as part of sentencing.

“We gather information about a defendant’s histories for the court, pull it all together and from there can make evaluations and recommendations to the court for sentencing. The other part is supervising those who are put on probation by ensuring their compliance with court orders and monitoring their behavior as well as treating them with education or other specialized classes,” he said.

The probation department, like most other departments in Colorado, works on the philosophy that an individual is more likely to correct an offense or behavior through treatment than incarceration.

“A lot of people have this idea that we just should throw everyone in jail. Well, the literal cost of doing that to society is huge. There just isn’t enough brick and mortar,” he said. “There’s no guarantee they’ll get better. By being on probation, (offenders) can still be working and earning money, paying their taxes, spending that money and supporting their children. They’re not a drain on society.”

To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com.

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