Can Having a Probation Officer in School Reduce Recidivism?
Date:  03-12-2014

One county says “yes,” and they say it also helps dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline
Over the past two decades an increasing amount of schools have installed resource officers, a euphemism for police, in their buildings. The presence of police in schools is to keep the environment safe so students can study without fear or disruption. But, studies have found that children in a school that has a police presence are more likely to get arrested than those children without resource officers in their schools (see Reentry Central, “Do Police Officers in Schools Help or Harm Youth?,” April 17, 2013).

Today, in addition to police officers, some schools are also installing probation officers, a move that some critics say blurs the line between education and corrections and can stigmatize the very children that they are trying to help. The Center for Juvenile Justice looks at both sides of the issue in its report, “Juvenile Probation in Schools.” Click here to go to website.

But some claim that having a probation officer on-site seems to be beneficial. Reclaiming Futures reports that the Loudoun County, Virginia, School Based Probation (SBP) program “…made impressive gains in combating the school-to-prison pipeline. Since the program was instituted in the 2002-2003 school year, SBP has provided “a safety net to those students who might be tempted, through peer pressure or otherwise, to fall into delinquency patterns.” It’s working. As a direct result of this program, Loudoun has seen its juvenile crime and discipline incidents fall dramatically while its school population has grown.”

According to Reclaiming Futures, SBP programs have been found to improve attendance, application to academics, and behavior. To learn more about how the Loudoun SBP works to keep young probationers in school and from going back to jail click here to go to website.