What can we do if a Probation Officer is abusing their authority?

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What can we do if a Probation Officer is abusing their authority?

My son, 19, is on probation. His new PO is making him come in everyday. The problem is that she tells him every time he’s there that she’s going to do everything that she can to violate him and put him in jail. She’s now making him fill out a job search sheet everyday with 15 contacts. If he only has 14, she’ll violate him. So for 7 days, she wants 95 job contacts. Isn’t that a bit much? She told him today that she is going to violate him every day until she has one that the judge cannot ignore. I suggested to my son to call the judge, but he’s afraid he’s just stuck.

Asked on January 28, 2011 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, in most states Probation Officers are under the authority of the Department of Corrections.  If a person has a problem with their PO, the Department of Corrections will have a process for filing a grievance.  However, before doing so, they would be well-advised to speak with their attorney before they do this (or get an attorney if they don't currently have one). 

The fact is that, challenging a PO that crosses the line such as you have described here, can have serious consequences for your son; it may even make a bad situation worse.  Ask his lawyer about applying for a change of officers or helping him apply for early release.  Until he does, he must tolerate this apparent abuse of authority (at least for now) and follow his PO's demands or risk having his probation revoked.   


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