The Hamilton County Juvenile Court Probation Department works with children, and families who are under Court supervision. The department is responsible for using all suitable methods to help these young people adhere to their probation plan, set and achieve positive goals, and improve their behavior at home and in the community. Hamilton County Juvenile Probation Officers are trained in the Carey Guides, Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS) and Terrace Metrics.
The Probation Process
If a delinquency offense is found to be true and a youth is adjudicated (found responsible), the Judge or Magistrate may order an investigation, referred to as a “pre-dispositional investigation,” to learn more about the youth responsible, and the offense. A probation officer (PO) is assigned to work with the youth and reaches out to their family, school, community service providers, as well as victims of the offense, to complete the investigation. The PO requests and reviews school and health records and any other information to help assess risk levels, including likelihood to re-offend. The probation officer submits a final risk assessment report to the Judge or Magistrate and gives recommendations, before the final disposition hearing.
The final recommendation on a case is referred to as the “disposition.” The Judge or Magistrate makes this decision using the risk assessment, offense characteristics, prior probation adjustment and service history. Final recommendations vary and may include:
- Release back to the full supervision of parents to enforce sanctions and follow-up with service referrals.
- Supervision by the Probation Department, of varying intensities, to follow through with recommended services and Court orders.
- Placement in a residential treatment facility designed to address identified needs.
- Commitment to a state-run correctional institution.
If the Court places a youth under probation supervision, the assigned PO develops a supervision plan to address identified risk factors, establish goals, refer services, monitor participation and compliance, and maintain guided interaction with the youth. The Probation Department uses evidenced- based programming models to create the plan, such as “Effective Practices in Community Supervision” (EPICS) and “The Carey Guides.” PO’s also refer youth and families to community providers whose programming utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy, functional, and multidimensional family therapy such as Thinking for a Change (T4C), Anger Replacement Training (ART), and Seven Challenges.
Some Probation Officers are trained to provide specialized services and interventions. In Hamilton County, specialized caseloads include:
- Adolescents with Sexualized Behavior Problems: All youth adjudicated of a sexually oriented offense are assigned to specially trained PO’s. The department uses specialized assessments in the investigation of adjudicated sexual offenders. This practice supports a continuum of care approach that continues through legal, treatment, and aftercare settings.
- Electronic Monitoring Unit (EMU): EMU is a community surveillance program managed by the Probation Department to provide increased supervision for high-risk youth. It utilizes an electronic transmitter bracelet worn by the juvenile and a field monitoring device to monitor his or her presence or absence within a specified range.
- Girls Empowered & Motivated to Succeed (GEMS): GEMS is a team of officers whose caseload is designed to address the specific needs of adolescent girls who are on probation, with a goal to decrease their risk for re-offending. Girls assigned to GEMS receive probation supervision along with gender-specific programming.
- Individualized Disposition Docket (IDD): This caseload addresses youth with ongoing delinquent behavior due to significant behavioral and emotional health needs. The officer supervising this caseload is part of a team of Court and community service providers who develops an individualized plan of care for each child and family accepted into the program. IDD aims to provide a seamless system of care to help stabilize behavior, improve the family’s ability to manage their child, and eliminate delinquent behavior. After a period of intensive services, including functional family therapy, the family transition to less intensive services within their community.
- Placement and Enhanced Reintegration Team (PERT): This team aims to improve community safety and the juvenile justice system by providing enhanced, comprehensive reentry services for juveniles in out-of-home placements. PO’s have smaller caseloads of no more than 20-25 youth. Each child and family receive more intensive community-based supervision and services to build a strong network of traditional and non-traditional supports for successful reintegration with family, school, peers, and community life. PO’s begin working with a child from the moment they enter residential treatment, working with the placement agency, aftercare service providers, as well as the family.