PHOENIX (July 18, 2023) – From home visits and secure care to offering valuable resources, probation staff not only help justice-involved individuals stay on track with their court orders, but they play a vital role in encouraging behavior change which can often lead to people living healthier, crime-free lives and ultimately change the course of their lives.
National Pretrial, Probation, and Parole Supervision Week is observed during the week of July 16, to recognize the many contributions of community corrections professionals across the country. For the Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County, it’s an opportunity to highlight the impact probation personnel have on public safety and the communities they serve.
“Community corrections remains one of society’s best tools available to enhance the safety and betterment of our community,” said Chief Adult Probation Officer Michael Cimino. “I could not be prouder of the work our team does in service to the residents of Maricopa County and our Court. Just like our colleagues all across Arizona, they serve with excellence and distinction, and are a national model of enhancing community safety through service, accountability, and influencing change.”
The Maricopa County Adult Probation Department, which was established in 1972, currently serves a probation population of almost 47,000. One of the department’s primary goals is crime reduction, which is achieved by implementing research-based practices and risk reduction strategies. In fiscal year 2022, the Maricopa County Probation Department reported almost 82% of the probation population completed their probation terms.
“Being a probation officer to me means having the opportunity to change someone’s life with every single interaction,” said Adult Probation Officer Alex Battest. “On the outside, it may look like a simple conversation or a referral, but it could end up being the catalyst in altering their life, their family’s life, and, in turn, the greater community.”
Juvenile Probation Officers make recommendations to judges related to hearings, violations of probation and early release. They, along with the support of surveillance officers, also work with youth to encourage growth and accountability and refer them and their family to receive services. For those youth requiring temporary secure care, detention officers provide a safe and secure environment with a focus on positive growth opportunities.
“PPPS Week 2023 is here, and I am proud to kick it off with a message of thanks and recognition. The national theme this year is Stronger Together, and it could not be more fitting for our department,” said Juvenile Probation Chief Eric Meaux. “This week we will celebrate the hard work and contributions of all Juvenile Probation Department staff who make it possible to keep our communities safer, provide positive growth opportunities for the youth we serve, and support one another in efforts to maintain a positive and efficient working environment.”
In fiscal year 2022, the Maricopa County Juvenile Probation Department received 7,401 referred offenses. Of that number, 56% were sent to a diversion program and managed without filing a formal petition to the court. One of those diversion programs is Teen Court, which provides first-time offending youth with a responsible and efficient pathway toward offense resolution. The Maricopa County Juvenile Probation Department facilitates 20 Teen Courts in 15 Valley schools and others in local municipal courts.
“Once I started working with families in the field everything changed, I didn’t want to do anything else,” said Juvenile Surveillance Officer John Herold. “We’re dealing with people’s mindsets and we’re trying to change them. Anytime you can help somebody, it makes you feel good and if you’re guided and you have a passion for working with people, this is a great career for you.”
The Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County is comprised of Superior Court, Adult Probation and Juvenile Probation, which includes juvenile detention. The Judicial Branch in Maricopa County is the fourth largest trial court system in the nation and, along with its 3,200 employees, is dedicated to providing a safe, fair and impartial forum for resolving disputes, enhancing access to services, and providing innovative, evidence-based practices that improve the safety of the community and ensure the public’s trust and confidence in the Judicial Branch. For more information, visit www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov.