Public Information Officer
County of Los Angeles Probation Department
Phone: (562) 315-3388
Probation Information Office
We understand you work on a deadline. We also understand the importance of connecting you to the most appropriate subject expert to answer your questions.
This is a short summary of the most frequently asked questions:
What does L.A. County Probation do?
Assist the Individual
The mission of L.A. County Probation is to rebuild lives and provide for healthier and safer communities. We believe that through providing supervision and rehabilitative services for individuals whom the courts and community have deemed criminally at risk, will enhance public safety, ensure victim’s rights and effect positive probationer behavioral change. Probation, along with our County partner agencies, provides a wide range of services and expertise for individuals under court ordered supervision, from the first contact after adjudication. This may include pretrial services such as risk assessments, alternative courts, electronic monitoring to providing probationers assistance with job searches, completing their education and social service benefits.
L.A. County Probation works closely with families by engaging and empowering families as part of the case plan for youth that are in the community on Probation supervision, detained or are in residential care.
Additionally, Probation works closely with families as youth transitioning from congregate care, residential care or detention back in to the community to assure that services are continued in the home and the community.
Probation's goal with family engagement is to strengthen the family by assisting them in the acquisition of the skills and resources to parent effectively and keep their families intact.
Assist Law Enforcement
Probation provides crucial information to sheriffs, police and the courts on matters of detention/incarceration and alternative sentencing. It is a probation officer’s unique knowledge of a probationer’s history, family and affiliations. Our probationer database and departmental expertise is routinely used by the LAPD, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency in their investigations. L.A. Probation’s elite and armed Special Enforcement Officers (SEO) are Deputy Probation Officers who plan and execute joint special operations on a regular basis.
How is Probation different from other law enforcement agencies?
We often use this analogy: Probation is the only law enforcement agency that combines the hammer of the law and the heart of a social worker in order to effect positive behavioral change in a probationer.
It is this unique hybrid of service that distinguishes L.A. County Probation.
Our objective is to rehabilitate. Detention is the opportunity for therapeutic, evidence-based treatment programs. Supervision is, yes, to ensure the Probationer is complying with court orders, but supervision by a Probation Officer also the opportunity to interact and stabilize an individual to reduce recidivism. Los Angeles County Probation is the only County department that works on a daily basis with the departments of Mental Health, Public Health, the Los Angeles Office of Education, and dozens of community-based organizations to effect that positive change.
What is the difference between “Probation” and “Parole”?
“Probation” is not “parole” and should not be used synonymously.
County Probation is a term of community supervision imposed by a judge instead of a jail sentence or in addition to a jail sentence. Prior to Realignment, all inmates released from State prison were released to State Parole. Post Realignment inmates meeting a specified criteria are released from State Prison to the supervision of county probation (aka: Post Supervised Person) -- PSP, while others are released to the supervision of State Parole. As of July 1, 2011, the biggest difference is that parolees are supervised by State Parole Agents, while PSPs are supervised by county probation. The rules under which probationers and PSPs are supervised vary.
What is AB 109?
AB 109 is an historic law passed in April of 2011 with the intent of reducing the state prison population. It is also referred to as “Realignment”. The California Legislature and the Governor passed this sweeping public safety legislation that shifted the responsibility of certain state offenders from State Parole to the local counties. The law allows for current non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex offenders who, after they have served their sentence in a California State prison, are to be supervised at the local County level. The idea is that the Counties have more experience providing rehabilitative services.
AB 109 also provides for the same inmate population above to serve their sentences in county jails instead of state prison.
Note: No inmates currently in state prison will be transferred to county jails or released early.
Can you correct the biggest myths about AB 109?
- There is no such thing a "early release" under AB109. In fact, there is no provision for early release in the language of the law passed by the California State Legislature in 20011. None of the felons released under the AB109 program are "early release". The only difference is that these state prisoners are being supervising at the County level by Probation instead of at the State level by Parole. This error regarding early release has been wide spread-we try and correct that misperception every time.
- AB 109 probationers can only be returned to state prison for a new qualifying conviction.
- State felons by counties are known a non-serious, non-violent and non-sex offenders, i.e., N-3’s. However, the non-serious/non-violent designation only applies to the current commitment offense. In other words, “non-non-non’s” can and do have prior serious/violent convictions in their background, but the current offense for which they were committed to State prison cannot be defined as serious or violent under the law. Also, sex offenders who are NOT designated as high risk sex offenders are released from the State to the county so long as their current offense is NOT serious or violent, they are not a Lifer, they are not a Mentally Disordered Offender and they are not defined as a Sexually Violent Predator.
What are the do’s and don’ts that I need to know about videotaping and interviewing at Probation?
LA County Probation operates out of 50 different facilities County wide. However, often we share buildings with other County departments. This means the people walking in and out of what you consider to be a Probation facility are not necessarily Probation staff and should not be represented as such. It would be inaccurate.
Also, Probation clients are protected by privacy laws including HIPAA, a federal law prohibiting the release of medical information. We ask that you respect those privacy rights and not randomly record video or audio of a Probation facility without first getting clearance and assistance from Media Relations.
Under what circumstances is a reporter allowed to interview an Adult Probationer?
We understand the importance of educating the public, but let us first state that the Probation Department by law is prohibited from releasing information about any specific case. Probation clients are protected by privacy laws. In fact, Probation is prohibited by law from even confirming if an individual is under Probation’s supervision. However, the law allows for certain circumstances when the Department may release a certain types of information in the interests of public safety or with the probationer’s consent or guardian’s consent. One such example is when a Probationer has ‘absconded’ or is a fugitive and there is an active bench warrant out for that individual’s apprehension.
Another example is when the Probationer has agreed to be interviewed, signs a Probation Department media waiver. Each request is considered on a case-by-case basis. Each request is reviewed by any combination of Media Relations, Chiefs and Probation Officers.
Waiver Form-Adult Probationer
What if I want to interview a probationer who is a minor and is committed to a juvenile hall or camp?
The process is fairly simple but it is critical you plan in advance. You would first contact Media Relations with your request. Be specific about what is your story about? What is your deadline?
Media Relations can assist by providing you the form for the court petition. You can also call the Juvenile Court Department 400 at 323-526-6377.
You would fill out the court petition to be considered by the Juvenile Court. The Court requires time (generally between 7 to 21 days) for Probation Officers, the Public Defenders even the family of the minor to offer comment on your request. The Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court will take in to consideration your petition and the comments/objections from interested parties and issue his decision in a court order which Media Relations or the court would return to you. You would be bound by the conditions in the court order.
There are generally two types of media requests:
- Full Waiver of Confidentiality. This is when you need to interview and/or photograph a minor for the purposes of your news story.
- Partial Waiver of Confidentiality. This is when you only need to videotape and or record general activity but do not require interviews with the minors. You would collect audio and video but none of it in any way identifies the minors. This is typically a request to cover a program where the activity is the focus of the news story.
How do I arrange an interview with Probation staff?
Please contact Media Relations. Email is the fastest way to get an answer. Please state the following information: KERRI.WEBB@probation.lacounty.gov
Your media outlet,
What is your topic? (details please)
What is your deadline?
Thank you. Click here for more information on media rights.