WEST VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS
DIVISION OF PROBATION SERVICES
Probation officers provide many services to circuit courts, such as conducting investigations and drug screenings, preparing pre-sentence reports, assessing criminogenic needs of offenders, recommending sentences for criminal offenders, and monitoring offenders sentenced to probation or supervised release. Officers also work closely with community agencies such as adult day report centers, youth reporting centers, adult and juvenile drug courts, mental health courts, schools, substance abuse facilities, local community health centers, community service work providers, the Department of Health and Human Resources, and other state agencies in order to link services for persons under probation officers’ supervision. In addition, West Virginia’s probation officers annually supervise over 14,000 adult and juvenile offenders.
The Division of Probation Services is responsible for the development and oversight of Adult (ADC) and Juvenile (JDC) Drug Courts and the Family Treatment Courts (FTC) in West Virginia. The West Virginia Drug Court Programs are a cooperative effort of the criminal justice, social service, substance abuse treatment, law enforcement, and education systems in the State. They operate in a non-adversarial setting focused on helping those with addiction issues achieve sobriety and gain positive control of their life.
The Adult Drug Court program seeks to achieve a reduction in recidivism and substance abuse among offenders and to increase the likelihood of successful rehabilitation through early, continuous, and intense treatment, mandatory periodic drug testing, community supervision, appropriate sanctions and incentives, and other rehabilitation services, all of which are supervised by a judicial officer.
The Juvenile Drug Court program seeks to divert non-violent juvenile offenders exhibiting alcohol or substance abuse behavior from the traditional juvenile court process to an intensive individualized treatment process. The goal is to reduce future court involvement for these youths.
In the 2019 regular Legislative Session, HB 3057 passed, which included a new Article, 15B, the Family Treatment Court Act. This act permits the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia to implement Family Treatment Court Pilot programs. These programs, funded through a grant from the Office of Drug Control Policy, will be in Boone, Randolph, and Ohio Counties. The Family Treatment Court will focus on Abuse and Neglect children who have become involved with the system due to a caregiver's addiction. Stakeholders will work together with the goal of providing safe, nurturing and permanent homes and developmental services for children while providing parents with the necessary support and services they need to achieve stable recovery.
The office of the West Virginia Interstate Compact for Juveniles also resides within the Division of Probation Services. The Compact regulates the movement and supervision between states of juveniles under community supervision. It is designed to ensure public safety and create an effective and efficient means of transferring, tracking, and supervising juveniles between states. Juvenile probation officers provide supervision of juveniles transferred to West Virginia through the Interstate Compact. The Probation Division’s Compact Office manages over one hundred active cases each year as well as handling the return of juvenile runaways, absconders, and escapees.
Another program is the School-Based Probation Officer program. This is a cooperative effort of the Division of Probation Services, local circuit judges, the state and local Boards of Education to provide full-time probation officers to work intensively in public schools. The goal is to provide early intervention for students who begin to exhibit behavioral and/or truancy problems in an effort to divert them from the Criminal Justice System.
The Probation Division is a growing division with approximately three hundred probation officers and support staff with broad responsibilities and duties. It is with great pride that probation officers professionally and diligently serve the circuit courts of West Virginia.