Here is the second instalment in our two-part series about alternative careers in the criminal justice system:
6. Community Corrections Officer
Want to play an active role in helping those inmates to reintegrate into the community?
Community corrections officers, previously known as probation and parole officers, supervise those who have community-based orders placed on them as part of their sentence or parole conditions.
For example, you might supervise those serving community service orders, home detention orders, bonds or suspended sentences – as well as people who have been released from prison on parole or bail.
You will be responsible for ensuring that people are able to access rehabilitation programs in the community, as well as advising on matters such as housing, education and employment.
You will also be responsible for preparing court documents including pre-sentence reports and breach reports.
Good communication skills, an ability to build relationships of trust and organisational skills are must-haves.
You must also demonstrate tolerance, compassion, respect and be passionate about promoting rehabilitation.
You can become a community corrections officer without any formal qualifications, but tertiary study can give you an advantage when applying.
Take a look at counselling or community service qualifications, or alternatively university courses such as social science, social work or criminology.
Prior to working in community corrections, you will be required to undertake a 12-week training course before commencing a 1 year probationary period.
A police check is also necessary.
7. Juvenile/Youth Justice Officer
If you’re passionate about kids and social justice, working as a juvenile justice officer (now known as youth justice officers) can be a deeply rewarding career choice.
Similar to a community corrections officer, but with a focus on children, you will work with young people charged with criminal offences and help them make positive changes in their life to put them on the right road and help them stay out of the court system.
You will be required to liaise with children’s court staff, judicial officers, criminal lawyers and juvenile correctional centres, as well as the child’s family.
You will also work within juvenile justice centres, manage youth justice conferences and provide individual case management, counselling and skills training.
This can be a challenging role as many young offenders come from impoverished or disadvantaged backgrounds and may have experienced a history of abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, or mental health issues.
However, the opportunity to make a difference in a young person’s life can be incredibly rewarding.
Empathy, understanding, leadership, patience and excellent listening skills are important, as well as good written and verbal communication skills.
A sense of cultural awareness and a passion for social justice are essential, as well as an interest in promoting rehabilitation in a sensitive manner.
An understanding of mental health, social, and drug and alcohol issues are also fundamental to the job.
You don’t need any formal qualifications, but tertiary qualifications in social work or counselling are desirable.
You must pass a working with children check and a police background check, as well as a medical assessment.
If you are successful, you will undertake a 30 week induction training and assessment period which consists of an initial 4 week training period, followed by a period of workplace learning, training and assessment, during which you will work towards a Certificate IV in Youth Justice.
8. Police Prosecutor
Interested in courtroom advocacy but don’t want to complete a law degree?
Perhaps you should consider a career as a police prosecutor.
Appearing in Local Courts, police prosecutors present criminal matters on behalf of the police.
They must liaise with officers in charge, members of the judiciary and criminal defence lawyers.
Police prosecutors gain an insight into the criminal justice system and court procedure, and develop valuable advocacy skills.
Although legal qualifications are not essentual, an increasing number of police prosecutors have completed law degrees, and prosecuting can lead to a career at the DPP, as a criminal defence lawyer or as a criminal barrister.
Organisational skills and the ability to manage a large caseload are important.
You must also have strong oral and written communication skills, highly developed analytical skills, and the ability to think on your feet.
Those who possess tertiary legal qualifications can undertake an accelerated program through the NSW Police Force.
Other applicants must work as a general duties police officer for at least 3 years before commencing a specialised police prosecutor’s program.
They must also pass a physical fitness and background check.
9. Court Reporter/Legal Journalist
Do you love hearing about juicy criminal cases in the papers and on TV?
Are you able to dramatise events to make them more exciting?
Do shows like Law and Order and Rake tickle your fancy?
If so, perhaps you should consider a career as a crime reporter.
Journalists and other media personnel sit in courts and take notes of cases, normally creating their own special ‘spin’.
They then report on these matters by writing articles, or appearing on radio or TV.
Journalists with an interest in court cases gain an insight into the court system and processes, as well as the application of laws.
Good written and verbal communication skills are essential.
An ability to trigger emotions such as rage, empathy and to keep readers and viewers entertained is important.
Patience and the ability to sit through lengthy court proceedings are also necessary.
Most major media outlets require court reporters to possess a journalism or media degree – and degrees in law or criminology can also be beneficial.
So there you have it – nine alternative careers in the criminal justice system for those who don’t want to do a law degree or be a lawyer.
Hope to run into you some time!