Lisa Boone of Owensboro says she was 37 years old when she finally decided what she wanted to be when she grew up.
Boone worked in childcare for 20 years before pursuing a Bachelor of Art in psychology and a Master of Science in criminal justice at the University of Louisville.
She first learned about the role of probation and parole officers while taking a forensic psychology class and began researching the job to find out all she could.
“I was lucky to be able to do an internship in [the Daviess County] probation and parole office during my graduate school time,” she said. “I was able to see firsthand the officers here and see how hard they worked with the clients.”
After graduation in 2016, Boone was hired as a probation and parole officer and completed a 5-week training academy.
According to Boone, training for probation and parole officers includes firearm use, self-defense, risk/needs assessment, case planning and motivational interviewing practices.
“Officers are trained on how to conduct home visits and deal with hostile client situations,” she said. “I think this job calls for empathy, a desire to help others and a weird sense of humor.”
The mission of the Division of Probation and Parole is to enhance public safety and promote offender reintegration in the community through proactive supervision and referral to community-based resources, according to Boone.
Kentucky has 20 Probation and Parole districts. Daviess County is in District 13, the largest in the state, which also includes Union, Henderson, Muhlenburg, Hancock, Ohio and McLean Counties. Daviess County supervises 3,797 people at this time.
While many law enforcement careers may attract more males than females, Boone says colleagues in her office are evenly split and include nine female and eight male probation and parole officers.
Boone supervises clients who have been placed on probation by the court system or parole by the state parole board. “Each officer has a list of clients we oversee,” Boone said. “I currently have 117 probation or parole clients.”
“My job is to help supervise each client and make sure that they are following all conditions of supervision placed by us and any special conditions placed by the court or paroling authority,” Boone said. “I typically meet with clients once or twice a month.”
Boone says some clients may report more often, depending on special circumstances, and home visits are conducted to confirm residency and to ensure the placement is suitable.
“I also see how they are doing and if they have had any changes since the last report day, including any law enforcement contact,” she said. “I always ask if there is anything that I can help with.”
Boone said that some clients have just broken her heart, adding that this job is much more than she thought it would be. When meeting with her clients, Boone reviews their individualized case plan and attempts to establish her role in the relationship.
“When I first meet with a client I tell that person: ‘There will be times that I will tell you something that you don’t want to hear, but I’m going to tell you anyway. It is not my job to coddle you, but help you complete your supervision,” Boone said. “We don’t like to see return customers.”
Boone says the role of probation and parole officers is sometimes seen as negative by clients.
“Our job is to help the client succeed, not get them locked up,” she said. “The more honest the client is, the easier it is for us to help.”
Some clients are asked to provide a urine sample for drug testing. If a client tests positive, he or she will be given an appointment with a social services clinician located in the probation and parole office. Boone views this as proactively helping clients in the recovery process.
“I love my job,” said Boone. “I get to meet interesting people and help them. There are frustrating times for sure, but when you reach that person who is struggling, you feel like you have made a difference.”