July 13, 2011

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners has proclaimed July 17- 23 Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week.

Before board members voted unanimously at their July 7 meeting to adopt the proclamation, Department of Community Justice Director Scott Taylor told the board about the essential work done by the county’s probation and parole officers.

“Probation is referred to as the alternative to incarceration,” Taylor said. “But in reality it is the primary source of community safety and supervision for those convicted of crimes.”

Multnomah County’s probation and parole officers supervise more than 8,000 adults as well as nearly 650 young men and women on formal and informal supervision. Across the country, more than 5 million adults and about 1.8 million youths are on supervision .

Probation and parole officers wear many hats; in any given day they may be asked to act as law enforcers, counselors, educators and crime prevention specialists. Often, they are the only support system for offenders and their families.

The Department of Community Justice is nationally recognized as an innovator, and that is evident in the results. For example, the department’s Juvenile Services programs diverted 1,400 youth from the criminal justice system last year and juvenile felony recidivism is at a four-year low.

“Community supervision is not glamorous or highly visible work,” said Commissioner Loretta Smith. “But it’s crucial for our community and our youth and we appreciate it.”