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Probation Services FAQ
Adult Probation
What is the difference between probation and parole?
Probation is a sentence where an offender remains in the community under supervision.  Parole is a conditional release from incarceration under conditions similar to probation.
What is the difference between a county and a state sentence?
Generally a sentence of confinement requires a minimum and a maximum time.  In Pennsylvania, a state sentence is one with a maximum of two (2) years or more.  The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole is the paroling and supervising  authority in state sentences.  A county sentence is one in which the maximum sentence is two (2) years minus one (1) day  or less.  The sentencing judge grants parole in a county sentence and the county parole office supervises these offenders.
How often is an offender seen while on probation/parole?
This depends upon several factors such as, but not limited to, the individual, their background, previous and current  behavior.  The assigned probation/parole officer will discuss this with the offender and will meet with the offender as often  as necessary to ensure compliance with the orders of the court.
What agencies conduct drug/alcohol/mental health evaluations?
Each officer has a list of community agencies that are certified in these various areas.  Contact the supervising officer for  further information.
Why is it necessary to submit urine samples for drug/alcohol testing?
During supervision, an offender may be asked to submit urine samples to verify compliance with the conditions of supervision.
Why can’t an offender leave Pennsylvania without permission?
Travel outside Pennsylvania, including Canada, is not a right when an individual is under supervision.  If an offender gives  the probation officer reasonable notice, he/she may grant permission to travel.
Why is an offender charged a supervision fee?
Act 1991-35 indicates that a supervision fee be imposed in ARD/probation and/or parole sentences when  an offender is  under supervision of the county probation department.
How can I find out who someone’s probation officer is?
Call the Dauphin County Adult Probation office at (717) 780-6900 and ask to speak to the supervising probation officer.  The  receptionist will be able to tell you who the supervising probation officer is.
How can an ARD case be expunged?
Several documents must be presented to the court.  Specific instructions and paperwork will be discussed by the assigned probation officer with the offender at the time of ARD discharge.
Juvenile Probation 
What is the basic function of the Juvenile Probation Divison?
The Juvenile Probation DIvision is an extension of the Dauphin County Juvenile Court.  In essence, the Juvenile Probation Officers monitor all of the orders and directives established by our Juvenile Court Judge, the Honorable John F. Cherry.  When Judge Cherry places a juvenile on probation, the Juvenile Probation Officers act as the “eyes and ears” of Judge Cherry to help the juvenile and family comply with the Judge’s orders and successfully complete probation.
What different roles must be played by the Juvenile Probation Officers?
The Juvenile Probation Officers must be very versatile because they play a variety of roles.  Depending upon the circumstances they must be a role model, counselor, teacher, disciplinarian, advocate, etc.
What factors are used by the Juvenile Court and its Juvenile Probation Office to make decisions?
The legislatively mandated philosophy is called Balanced and Restorative Justice which has three goals for every juvenile.  First, to ensure that the juvenile is held ACCOUNTABLE for the crimes committed.  Second, to ensure that the juvenile develops the COMPETENCIES needed to be law-abiding and successful citizens.  Third, to ensure that the COMMUNITY is PROTECTED from additional victimization.  These 3 factors are utilized to guide the decisions in the Juvenile Courts of all 67 Pennsylvania counties.
What is the Schaffner Youth Center?
The Schaffner Youth Center is a shelter facility for 24 youth who are awaiting the disposition (sentences) of the Juvenile Court.  These youth are not in need of secure detention, but are also not able to reside at home until their court hearings are completed.  While there, these juveniles receive counseling, education and other programming to meet their needs.  The Schaffner Youth Center emphasizes 24 hour/day staff supervision, not physical security, to ensure the presence and safety of the juveniles.  Juveniles are never “sentenced” to the Schaffner Youth Center.
Where do the juveniles stay if they need secure detention?
Juveniles who need secure detention while they await their Juvenile Court hearings are detained at the Abraxas Academy at Morgantown, Pa which is approximately 55 miles from Dauphin County via the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  For extraordinary circumstances some juveniles could also be securely detained at the Abraxas South Mountain Campus near Chambersburg, Pa. which is approximately 60 miles from Dauphin County via Route 81 South.  The Dauphin County Commissioners provide free transportation for parents and family members who desire to visit a juvenile at these two facilities.  Juveniles cannot be “sentenced” to these two secure detention centers.
When Juvenile Court Judge John F. Cherry does have a disposition hearing, to what programs can he “sentence” the juveniles?
Technically and lawfully Judge Cherry can commit or “sentence” a juvenile to any program or institution for delinquent youth in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  As a practical matter Judge Cherry commits the juveniles to programs that will address their needs (education, vocational training, substance abuse, mental health treatment, etc).  He tries whenever possible to keep juveniles close to their own home and community.
What local programs does Judge Cherry use to supervise and rehabilitate juvenile in their own community?
He uses programs such as the Harrisburg/Abraxas Student Academy, Multisystemic  Therapy, Detention Alternative Program, Treatment Alternative Program, Man-up Mentoring Program, and Neighborhood Reporting Centers.
Can juveniles be kept on juvenile probation after their 18th birthday?
Yes, juveniles can be kept on juvenile probation or at a juvenile institution until their 21st birthday for crimes that they committed prior to their 18th birthday.  However, on their 21st birthday the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court ends and their juvenile court case must be closed.
When is a juvenile’s record destroyed?
If a juvenile is found guilty (declared delinquent) in Juvenile Court by Judge Cherry, his/her record is not automatically destroyed at a certain age.  To have a delinquent record destroyed, a juvenile must request expungement, and the Court decides on a case-by-case basis.  A Juvenile Court record is a permanent record (if not expunged) but it is not a public record.  However, it could affect a person later in life related to adult criminal court sentencing, and induction into the military.
Do juveniles who are accused of crimes have the same rights as adults?
Many of the rights are the same.  However, two very precious rights that are enjoyed by adults do not apply to juveniles in Pennsylvania.  They are the right to bail and the right to a trial by jury.  In Pennsylvania all trials in juvenile court are decided by the Juvenile Court Judge.
Do Juvenile Court Masters/Hearing Examiners also make decisions?
No, they do not make decisions.  The Juvenile Court Judge can delegate certain cases to these Hearing Examiners who conduct hearings and make findings and recommendations to the Juvenile Court Judge.  The Judge then makes a final judicial decision and signs an appropriate court order to announce the decision of the Judge.
Why are there Juvenile Probation Officers stationed at most of the public high schools in Dauphin County?
School-based probation began in 1994 in Dauphin County.  With the permission of the school district the Juvenile Probation Office places one, or more, juvenile probation officers at a high school because that is where most probationers spend the majority of their time.  The juvenile probation officers have their office at the school and that is where they report to work each day.  The probation officers assist and monitor the probationer’s attendance, punctuality, grades, behavior, community service, etc.  They also visit the homes of the probationers during the evenings and on weekends.
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