Note from the Editor:
In honor of National Pretrial, Probation and Parole Officer’s Week, here is a great piece from AMU’s own Rob Stallworth, who is a Deputy Chief Probation and Parole Officer for the Virginia Department of Corrections in the Manassas, VA. You can read the full article featured in CorrectionsOne.
By Rob Stallworth
Being a probation and/or parole officer doesn’t carry the same glitz and glamour as other public safety or law enforcement professionals. Police officers have their own shows like Rookie Blue or Blue Bloods where the excitement and drama plays out on screen with a cast of characters that can be edgy, witty, and sometimes even funny with their portrayals of life as a cop on the street. Heck, even correctional officers have their own dig on reality TV with shows like Lockup and Beyond Scared Straight that would probably sway me in a different direction if I were a person in limbo of leading a life of crime.
Probation officers don’t have those kind of dramatic shows. Sometimes, in my opinion, when you do see an occasional PO in film or TV, they are usually portrayed as either hard-nosed, goofy, or aloof as to where their “clients” are when being sought after by detectives for a murder that was just committed. That, in itself, is a joke…because if we don’t know where they are or can’t share any intelligence on where they could be…“don’t let the door knob hit you where the good Lord split you.” In other words, for those who don’t understand that term, your career could be over.
I am often times asked why I chose to become a probation officer. Whenever I lecture to criminal justice students, I usually give some kind of answer that sounds like “no day is ever the same” or “I enjoy working with difficult people.” Those answers generally don’t result in a whole lot of fanfare, thought, or “yes, I want to be like that guy when I finish school!” Although it’s true, my answer as to “why” is more personal.
I was raised in a working class neighborhood in Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love,” home to the Eagles, Sixers, Phillies, and Flyers. Sports teams with memorable histories of greatness and a city where violence loomed right around the corner back in the 80s, when I grew up. In recent years, the city’s nickname has changed to “Killadelphia” because of the soaring murder rates. In 2012 alone, 329 people were murdered in Philly, which included a grocery store worker, a veteran police officer, and countless others.
To read more about Rob and his career as a parole officer, please visit CorrectionsOne.