SA1, DUI.ERLINE HIGHLANDS -C UNTY
PROBATION OFFICER S2BRING FLORIDA
PRO3LE..IS OF THE SIALL C UNTY PROBATION OFFICER
As ono of the probation officers from county rPlativtly small in population,
SmI glaS of the opportunity afforded to me by this Association to discuss briefly
the problems of a small county probation officer. The only trouble is that very
few of thtes sasll cou-ty probation officers seem to feel it worthwhile or impor-
tsnt to their work to ettwnrl the meetings of this Association.
It is my frank opinion that something muEs bc done, and thnt in th; vgry
near future, to make the small county probation officer conscious of the importance
of becoming active members of this association. In fact, with very frw exceptions,
the presnt personell of the association to date, is made up of representatives
front the Juvenile Courts and Juvenile Officers from the large populations centers
of Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Orlanda, `aint Petersburg and Clearwater. As a
result your speaker feels lost and at a disadvantage, Since the problems of thqse
cities with their well .or ~nized juvenile courts .nd trained juvenile officers are
)ear different than thbse of na msll population county such ra. "ihl'nds, which I
present. And such nn organization of work as wse suggested in the report pre-
sented at t-he Ocala meeting would be impossible in the small counties except in a
most modified form.
As probation officer of FHihlnnds County :y duties are manifold and varied.
In.addition to the regular work generally assigned to m probation officer ~a it
relrtcs to the Court, I hlve charge of all the Relief mork for all claiments who
are "on the county". This work involves the pending of ll relief money :ppro-
printed by the county commissioners for relief purposes, the providing of good
and clothing, and personal investigation of the conditions under which the
persons on relief live. The probation officer also acts as truant officer for all
of the sch-ols in the county with the exception of the Avon Park schools. This
phase of the work necessitates traveling to the remoter sections of the county,
pd Highlands County is a rather large county in area.
The probation officer is also expected to take care of the social wel-
fare phase of the work. This letter phase involves the care and investigation
of delinquent children who as yet have not been brought before the county court
or have found themselves in difficulty through their actions or the conditions
under which they live. In many cases the parental problem and lack of willing-
ness on the part of the parents to cooperate presents rather difficult and at
times serious trouble in preventing delinquencies whichwith a little understand-
ingcould be avoided.
The prevailing relief problem is constantly increasing due to the let down
of this work by the agencies of the Federal Emergency Relief. Every few days a
new cmse is dropped from the Federal relief rolls and placed back on the county.
Each of these cases must be personally investigated. As a result this phase of
social welfare work will become a permanent part of the work of the probation
officer in the small population county unless some other agency is assigned to
this work. If this is done it will not be long before -the probation officer will
be looking for another position. For this phase of the work is closely tied up
th the regular work of the probation officer. And as to whether the social
welfare worker or the probation officer wins out depends upon the activity of
the probation officer and his or her interest in the work. And from present
indications, the probation officers in many counties are not awake to the
seriousness of the situation.
Some of the particular problems which directly affect the small county
probation officer, and which hinder efficient work are:-
1:-The lack of well organized social work in the county. This is due to a
lack of interest and the failure of the citizens to recognize the importance
of this work as a preventative measure in dealing with children who are de-
linquent, or those who may become so due to the conditions of their environment.
2:-The fact that juvenile cases must be tried or heard in the county courts
insteadd of in the juvenile courts where the officers have had special training
g re experienced in this particular work. This fact presents a real problem for
the probation officer in that he must not only keep always in mind the Court side
of the case in question, but also use every possible means to prevent an injustice
being done to the delinquent child; who if not handled sympathetically,yet firmly ,
may turn out to be a confirmed criminal due to a lack of understanding on the part
of those repsonsible for the handling of the case.
5:-In a comparatively amwll county community the probation officer is subjected
to more uncalled for and unjust criticism, and also more outside influence is
brought to bear which handicaps his work. This in itself requires more than the
ordinary patience and tact in dealing with both the public and the delinquent.
There are many other problems too numerous to mention, but these -entioned
will give the association an idea as some of the most important which confront
the s iall county probation officer.
In regard to suggested legislation to be considered by this association
to be presented the next session of the Legislature. There is one very important
matter, which in my humble opinion should be seriously considered and steps taken
correct; and that is the matter of transportation of delinquent children to the
tate Industrial -chools'at Ocala and at Marianna.. As it now stands this matter
is in the hands of the sheriff of the county.
'"ith the hearty approval of the Highlands County Board of County Commis-
sioners, and at its suggestion; I would like to recommend that this associationn
go on record .s favoring a law to be passed by the Legislature, which law will
give the County Commissioners the authority the designate the probation officer
as its legally appointed officer to have charge of the transportation of delin-
quent children who -.ve been committed by the court to either the state Indus-
trial School for.Girls at Ocala or to qtate Industrial c!-ool for boys at
Marianna, instead of the present statute which makes it obligatory on the part
of the Commissioners to designate the sheriff of the county t" perform this duty;
and in addition that the fees for such transportation be limited to the actual
-traveling expenses and not on the stated mileage basis as is now the case.
/ The passing of such a law would materially decrease the expense involved in
transportation of delinquent children to the Industrial Schools' and further, what
is most important from the standpoint of the children themselves, would continue
\ keep them in the custody of the probation officer who' has had charge of the
.s from the beginning and is the logical person to accompany them to the
And may I, in closing suggest that this association use every effort to
arouse the interest of the probation officers and county judges in those counties
which do not have Juvenile Courts or regularly appointed Juvenile Officers as to
the importance of becoming JOB CONSCIOUS in thbtr work. Unless tiese officers do
wake up in the near future ind get busy, the Probation Officers in particular will
find themselves "on the outside looking in". Their failure to comprehend the
seriousness of the situation if working &. hardship on those of us who are trying
in a conscientious manner to do our duty and to cooperate with this Association
in its efforts to improve the work done by the Juvenile Courts and the County
Courts and also to raise the standards of the Juvenile Officers and of the
/ I have tried in thin brief talk to discuss some of the problems
of the average probation officer and trust that it will be of some value to the
Association in its deliberations. And once more may I th-nk you for the privelege
of addressing the Association at this time.