All Court-committed youth are supervised by a probation
officer while in placement. The supervising officer is responsible for release
planning and supervision during home passes. All youth in placement are visited
by their probation officer at regular intervals. Once released from placement,
the probation officer will continue supervision and assist with providing any
services deemed appropriate for the juvenile's successful integration back into
Drug and Alcohol
A unit of three probation officers supervise caseloads
comprised solely of those offenders identified as having serious drug and
alcohol dependency issues. These officers also perform drug and alcohol
evaluations for the Court. Urinalysis testing for the presence of drugs and
alcohol is a tool used not only by the officers of this unit, but by all
Intake is generally the first point of contact in the
Juvenile Probation Office. Misdemeanor and/or Felony level offenses are filed
by local police jurisdictions, and then reviewed and approved by the Berks
County District Attorney’s Office. The police referrals are then processed
within the Juvenile Probation Office, and assigned to an Intake Officer.
The Intake Officer is then responsible for scheduling an
Intake Interview. The parent/guardian of the juvenile will be asked to bring
their child to the Juvenile Probation Office. At the initial interview, the
process begins with reviewing general demographic information. The juvenile’s
rights are then reviewed and a statement of admission or denial is then taken.
If the juvenile is admitting some or all of the charges, the intake process
continues. If there is a denial, the matter is listed for Court and should the
juvenile be found involved in charges, an Intake Interview would then be
completed following the court proceeding.
At this point the Intake Officer obtains a social history
beginning with general family background information. Questions are then asked
relative to schooling, employment and extra-curricular activities. A portion of
the conversation is devoted to mental health or social service agency
involvement. The Intake Officer then discusses drug and alcohol involvement;
this also includes the performance of a urinalysis which is performed on site.
The results are obtained within minutes and are reviewed with the juvenile and
his or her parent/guardian.
All of this information is then used to determine the best
course of action. If appropriate, the case will be handled without a formal
Court proceeding. Many cases are scheduled for a formal Court proceeding based
on the nature of the charges, the juvenile's history with the Juvenile
Probation Office, and/or the juvenile's overall behavior. In all of these
cases, a Probation Officer is assigned and supervision commences.
All probation officers supervising a caseload are expected
to perform non-traditional hours each month. Non-traditional hours are defined
as hours outside the Monday through Friday 8am-5pm normal operating hours of
the probation office. The purpose of non-traditional hours are to monitor the
behavior of juveniles in their community, strengthen communication between the
probation officer and the juvenile's parents, and to ensure compliance with
curfew and other conditions of probation.
Beginning in February of 2003, both Juvenile and Adult
Probation officers began working evening shifts, along with the County Sheriff’s
Department and City of Reading law enforcement officials, in a collaborative
effort to target a designated Weed and Seed area in the City of Reading.
Modeled after a program developed in Boston, law enforcement officers accompany
probation officers to probationer's homes in the evening to monitor compliance.
The program has been effective in holding offenders more accountable, increasing
visibility in the community, and networking with law enforcement agencies.
Currently, the program has expanded to various communities throughout Berks
The goal of the Berks County Operation Night Light
initiative is to reduce recidivism among offenders by making probation
supervision more meaningful for groups most at risk for re-offending and
violating the terms and conditions of their probation or parole. By constant
and unexpected monitoring of individuals on supervision during non-traditional
hours, probation officers can more effectively intervene in their client’s
lives. Contacts, at residences and on the streets, will allow probation
officers to learn more about their clients and what support services they need
to avoid further criminal behavior. By using the power of the Courts and the
threat of incarceration, probation officers can ensure clients are following
the rules of supervision. By advising them of the ramifications of their life
choices, probation officers can help redirect their lives in a positive
Probation Officers have also offered assistance with various
special projects throughout Berks County such as: high school football games,
National Night Out, Governor Mifflin Community Days, and Exeter May Day.
Probation officers are assigned to the Reading Senior and
Reading Intermediate High Schools. In addition, the Muhlenberg and Wilson High
Schools also have one full-time officer stationed at their schools as well.
These officers spend approximately 80% of their workweek at the high schools. The goals of this unit are to improve school
attendance, academic performance and decrease disciplinary referrals.
This unit consists of two probation officers who are trained
specifically to supervise offenders with problem sexual behavior. Particular
emphasis is placed on monitoring offender behavior in the home and the
community, socialization skills, victim empathy, and satisfactory participation
The Special Supervision Unit is designed to supervise
moderate to high risk juvenile offenders who, through assessment, have been
identified as either members of a gang or at risk for joining a gang. The
S.S.U. utilizes a comprehensive supervision model which includes: suppression
of gang related behaviors, prevention for those at risk of joining a gang and
intervention for those involved in the gang lifestyle.
In an effort to better serve the victims of crimes committed
in Berks County, two probation officers, Kathy Spotts and Carmen Berrios, have
been assigned solely to work with victims. These officers will help by
answering questions, calculating financial damages, or simply being available
in a victim's time of need.
Kathy and Carmen may be contacted at (610) 478-3200 between the hours of 8:00am
and 4:30pm Monday through Friday.