All youth who enter the juvenile offender system are assessed by Juvenile Probation Counselors (JPC):
- To determine the level of supervision they need:
- To ensure that all conditions of their court orders are followed; and
- To ensure that appropriate services are provided to the youth and family.
The goal of probation is to promote community safety, ensure youth accountability, and provide treatment to all youth who fall under the supervision of the court. Probation helps youth fulfill court-ordered obligations and helps prevent their return to the justice system.
The youth and family will meet with a Juvenile Probation Counselor (JPC), who will ask a few questions to find out the level of supervision the youth may require. The questions also help the JPC decide what programs or actions to recommend to the judge.
Youth who are assessed at a low level to commit another crime will be contacted through monthly phone calls to ensure the youth is complying with the court order. The family/youth also can receive help in finding services they may need.
Youth who are assessed as moderate or high risk to commit another crime are sent to a Community Supervision Unit where they are assigned to a JPC. The JPC then meets with the youth and family and together they assess the situation and decide on appropriate, evidence-based programs such as Aggression Replacement Training, various family services such as Multisystemic Family Treatment, Functional Family Treatment, drug and alcohol treatment, mentoring, after school programs, job training, etc., designed to help them exit the juvenile justice system.
When a police officer arrests a juvenile, if the officer thinks the juvenile should be held in detention, he/she must contact the Screening Unit. Before the juvenile is brought to detention, a Screening Unit Juvenile Probation Counselor (JPC) goes over the circumstances of the arrest with the police officer and lets the officer know if the juvenile can be held in detention. The JPC reviews the Detention Screening Criteria when making this decision.
If a juvenile is placed in detention, Screening JPC(s) talk to the youth and also talk to the youth's parents or guardian. The youth stays in detention until a judge can review the case at a court hearing (usually the next work day). Parents are contacted as to when the next hearing will be held. At that hearing, the judge will decide whether or not the youth is to stay in detention. It is helpful if parents/guardians have a plan to supervise the youth pending the outcome of his case. The JPC prepares a report that provides information to assist the court when deciding if the youth should be released.
In most cases, the first contact a juvenile has with Probation Services is with the Central Intake Unit. An Intake JPC will meet with the juvenile and his/her family when they come to Juvenile Court for arraignment. In preparation for disposition of the case, the Intake JPC conducts a risk and needs pre-screen assessment of the juvenile. The Intake JPC also contacts schools and others to get more information about the youth. If a juvenile is found guilty of breaking the law, an Intake JPC prepares a report for the court that has recommendations for the youth's sentence.
Juveniles who, based on the risk/needs assessment, are low-risk to re-offend are supervised by the Low-Level Supervision Unit. When supervising low risk juvenile offenders, Community Surveillance Offices (CSOs) make most contacts using the telephone.
Juveniles who, based on the risk/needs assessment, pose a moderate to high risk to re-offend, are supervised by a JPC located in one of the four field offices. Offices are located in Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, and Kent. In most cases, a juvenile's JPC will come from the field office that is the closest to the juvenile's home.
The field office JPC meets with the juvenile and his/her family, conducts a full risk/needs assessment and sets up a case plan. The JPC is responsible for assisting the juvenile in meeting court ordered conditions and referral to the appropriate services. If the juvenile is not following the court order, the JPC may bring the juvenile back into court and ask the court to review the case and possibly sanction the juvenile for not following the court order.
To help the juvenile to do well, JPCs work with the juvenile, his/her parents or guardians, schools, law enforcement, and others who are working with the youth, such as treatment providers.
Contact information for the field probation offices is as follows:
- City (Seattle): (206) 205-9472
- Northeast (Bellevue): (206) 477-6490
- South I (Renton): (206) 477-5335
- South II (Federal Way): (206) 477-7360
Diagnostic Unit JPCs handle the cases of juveniles who are charged with offenses that, by law, can end up with the juvenile being sentenced to a state institution. For these cases, the JPC oversees the diagnostic evaluation of the youth and also makes sentencing recommendations to the court.
If a youth is charged with a sex offense, a Sex Offender Unit (SOU) JPC conducts the intake and risk/needs assessment. Some first time sex offenders may be eligible for the Special Sexual Offender Disposition Alternative (SSODA). If a youth receives a SSODA disposition, he/she remains in the community, is given treatment and is supervised by an SOU JPC. Juveniles who do not follow the SSODA court order are brought back to court and can be sent to a state institution.