Field Probation Services
Staffed by 85 probation officers who are responsible for a child's case from the time a petition is filed until probation expires, Probation Services is housed in ten district offices. Children pending adjudication may be placed on pre-adjudicated intensive supervision (PAIS) and are supervised by the field probation officer. Probation officers conduct comprehensive assessments on each child and family to determine the most effective recommendation and plan of intervention for the Court's consideration. The Juvenile Court's most frequently used disposition option is probation in the home. Children who are placed on probation are given specific conditions of probation that they must follow.
The department's case management system, Progressive Sanctions guidelines, and an individualized assessment determines the level of supervision, restrictions and programming for each youth. Probation officers maintain frequent contact with their assigned youth, monitor compliance with court-ordered conditions and act accordingly when violations occur. The scope of a probation officer's job is comprehensive and contains the opportunity to make a positive difference in a child's life.
Field probation services are provided for Dallas County within ten geographical districts based upon zip codes. Each district office is located within the community it serves, and are full partners with the local community and work to develop resources and promote public safety. More than 3,600 juveniles were supervised on formal probation during 2002. On any given month, approximately 1,800 youth reside in the community under formal probation supervision and an additional 1,300 youth are informally supervised pending adjudication.
Intake / Detention Screening
This unit works on a 24-hour basis, processing all youth referred to the Detention Center by police agencies and the Courts. The Unit's two major functions involve determining which youth are appropriate for deferred services or court processing, and which youth are eligible for release while pending Court. These decisions are made within the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Code. Release/detain decisions are based on the nature of a current alleged offense, current or previous court-ordered supervision status, and whether or not the child's behavior makes him a threat to himself or the community. For calendar year 2002, the Intake staff screened a total of 5,710 youth of which approximately 55% were held for Detention Hearings.
Responsible for conducting comprehensive and in-depth assessments of pre-adjudicated children who have pending petitions filed by the District Attorneys Office, this unit interviews the child, family, school officials, victims, collateral agencies and police authorities to develop the appropriate dispositional recommendation. Assessment staff are responsible for determining the strengths and weaknesses of the family unit and referring the family for services that will address the identified needs. Assessment Officers prepare the written Predisposition Reports for the Juvenile Courts, which detail and consider the family history and family dynamics to provide a recommendation and a plan of intervention. In addition, this unit is responsible for preparing the Social Evaluation and Investigative Reports for Certification Hearings on children that the District Attorney's Office is attempting to certify to stand trial as adults. During 2002, the Assessment Unit received 1,162 cases and completed 1,037 Predisposition Reports and 24 Adult Certification Social Evaluation and Investigative Reports.
Court Liaison Unit
Staff in the Court Liaison Unit represent juvenile cases appearing in Court on behalf of the assigned Probation Officer. The Court Liaison Officer also meets with the youth and their parent or guardian, after Court, to secure the signatures on the "Terms and Conditions of Probation" and "Instructions to New Probationers" forms and ensures the child and guardian understand the ramifications of the proceedings and their obligations to the Department. The Court Liaison Officer keeps the assigned Probation Officer appraised of Court activity and issues concerning the cases. The Court Liaison Unit represented 7,940 cases in Court during 2002, managing an average of 662 cases each month.
A Criminal Justice Division (CJD) grant-funded program, this project began in January 2000. It is a comprehensive, multi-agency initiative designed to provide supervision and services for offenders, their families and the community within Dallas zip code 75217. The project intensifies probation enforcement by teaming adult and juvenile probation officers with law enforcement officials to target high risk young offenders. The program serves offenders ages 14 to 23. Services provided include case management, family, youth and community development, education and employment services and gang intervention. The program is staffed by three adult probation (CSCD) officers, three juvenile probation officers and two Dallas County Sheriff Deputies. Administrative level staff from the DCSO, the Dallas County Community Supervision and Corrections Department and the Juvenile Department work together to manage and evaluate the program.