Court Referral Officer: Job Duties and Requirements

Court referral officers assign support services to defendants of drug- and alcohol-related crimes. They monitor their clients' progress and report findings to the court.

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Court Referral Officer Job Duties

Court referral officers work with drug and alcohol offenders in a given district's court system. They are responsible for connecting offenders with the services that can help rehabilitate them into society. Sometimes known as alternative sentencing or treatment, court referral programs are used to better educate and support drug and alcohol abusers and to diminish the number of occurrences of related crimes, such as drunk driving.

Officers evaluate individuals who have been recommended for treatment by the court, and they develop a treatment plan to present to the judge. A court referral officer might recommend psychological screening or drug education. Most cases involve monitoring the offender and conducting drug testing at least once per month. Officers might collect fees from defendants to cover evaluation and treatment services.

Court referral officers might work with a specific court, such as traffic or juvenile court, or they may serve multiple courts in a district. They can expect to attend court cases regularly. Court referral officers create a file with personal data on each defendant and provide information to the court as requested. Other responsibilities include serving as a point of information about the court referral program in general and collecting relevant data about the district's program for presentation to stakeholders.

Requirements

Court referral officers need strong writing and communication skills as well as knowledge of pertinent laws. Job postings accessed in February 2012 indicated that these professionals should be knowledgeable in substance addiction and drug abuse and be able to maintain confidentiality when working with clients. Other requirements include strong computer skills and the ability to work independently with little supervision.

There is no standard educational background necessary to become a court referral officer, though a bachelor's degree is usually required. Relevant programs in criminal justice, psychology, and related topics are available. Some positions might require multiple years of previous relevant work experience.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to court referral officers, it does publish data pertinent to probation officers and correctional treatment specialists. The BLS predicts that the employment of such officers and specialists will decrease by about 1% during the 2012-2022 decade. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists were reported to have earned median salaries of $48,190 in May 2012 by the BLS; those employed by local governments earned the most money, averaging $53,110 a year in 2012.

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