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In the news: California probation officers utilizing more mentoring tactics

Courtesy of acgov.org

Criminal justice realignment is changing the way probation officers are managing offenders, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Motivational interviewing is reemerging in probation offices across the state as a tool to better prepare probationers for reentry. Studies show that motivational interviewing and other techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and positive client development will prevent inmates from becoming repeat offenders. But it all starts with teaching probation officers a less punitive, more collaborative approach to dealing with offenders.

All 160 probation officers in Santa Clara County are participating in a three-day motivational interviewing session, costing $45,000 in total. San Mateo, Alameda and Santa Cruz Counties have trained officers in the past and are planning to host more sessions this year. 

But with probation officers having higher caseloads under state realignment, the Mercury News reports that some officers are worried about balancing roles "as both counselor and mentor to the offender while also being a representative of the justice system who has the power to put the person back behind bars."


Nicole Jones joined KALW's Crosscurrents team in 2010 as a reporter covering criminal justice and public safety. Jones is an alum of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Time's online edition and The Bay Citizen.