The Court’s Eyes and Ears: The Importance of Interagency Collaboration with Probation

The Court's Eyes and Ears: The Importance of Interagency Collaboration with Probation
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-01-27
Unit 1 Presentation Materials: The Court’s Eyes and Ears
Unit 2 Transcript: The Court’s Eyes and Ears
Unit 3 Workbook: The Court’s Eyes and Ears
Unit 4 Recording: The Court’s Eyes and Ears

Probation’s role in the criminal justice system is often confused as merely babysitting offenders making sure that they don’t violate court orders. Reality is, their roles are more encompassing and supports the system’s goals of facilitating offender accountability and ensuring safety for the victims, the community, and even the offender themselves.

Leading the discussion are Judge Eugene M. Hyman and Sara Mahoney. Judge Hyman served on the Superior Court of California for twenty years where he presided over domestic violence cases in the criminal, family, juvenile justice, and probate divisions of the Court. Meanwhile, Sara is currently a Probation Officer with the Allegany County Probation Department specializing in the supervision and investigation of domestic violence cases for the last ten years.

Specifics of this webinar are on:

  • Unpacking the role of probation, common misconceptions on the scope of their job, and the actual tasks that they are responsible for.
    • Its investigative duties that include collection of in-depth criminal history, detailed account of offense and records of pervasive pattern of abuse, conducting risk and/or lethality assessments, and providing recommendations for sentencing.
    • Its scope of supervision that involve administering ongoing risk assessments, motivational interviewing, monitoring compliance and new relationships for the offender and the victim, making ongoing referrals, and enforcing consequences for non-compliance.
    • Its responsibilities as a community partner by providing unique perspective to the judicial system about offender behavior, victimology and risks and collaborating with other agencies to uphold accountability and safety.
  • The consequences of criminal justice agencies operating in silos where agencies end up blindsided about changes and developments in the case.
  • How are the courts are inadvertently creating distrust in the system for the victims when dismissals, deferred sentencing, and diversion programs are put into effect.
  • Findings from the Better Women’s Justice Project Study which emphasizes the shortcomings of diversion programs in terms of monitoring offenders and creating accountability.
  • The core principles of intervention that comprehensively encompasses all critical elements to hold offenders accountable and keep victims and the community safe.
  • How probation can assist judges in ensuring that they don’t make errors and observe what is required by law through bench cards by making suggestions on orders and conditions, follow up investigations, decisions, and the type of correction facility the offender will end up in.
  • Probation’s involvement in judicial monitoring by providing up to date reports and risk assessments to enhance offender accountability and victim safety.
  • The purpose, scope, and limitation of risk and lethality assessments.
  • Familiarizing with some of the available risk and/or lethality assessments being utilized across the criminal justice system and which key players tend to use these.
  • The importance of a multidisciplinary collaborative approach that leverages the capabilities and specialization of probation to pursue justice.
  • Recognizing the nuances and dynamics within cases to better understand the reason behind victims’ and offenders’ decisions and behavior.
  • The value of not diminishing the severity of the crime through quick fixes brought about by lack of insight and comprehensive information gathering due to insufficient collaboration across key stakeholders.

Points raised during the Q&A we’re about:

  • Optimal caseload for domestic violence cases.
  • The risk assessment tool they use.
  • Preventing criminal justice professionals from inadvertently communicating the crimes against strangers is more serious than those committed within the home.
  • Questions to ask when conducting collateral contacts.
  • Critical information that the court wants to see in the PSI report.



Participants will learn about:

  • Advantages of using risk assessments for high-risk offenders
  • Tools and tips to promote collaboration
  • How increased collaboration can improve offender accountability, victim safety and victim perception of system response


Other Webinars with this Presenter:

  • The Court’s Eyes and Ears: The Importance of Interagency Collaboration with Probation (this webinar)


Or click here to view and register for other upcoming Probation and Parole webinars on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts



Audience Comments

  • “All of it. We work very well with our Victim Advocates with the Department and they are a big help. But got more information on what a Judge will also like to see and what other information reports have in it.” — Victoria
  • “I think that everything that was discussed was very relevant to my specific line of work and therefore it really kept my attention. The hour went by quickly in my opinion.” — Sam
  • “I love hearing that other people are feeling the same way I am. We all need to be on the same page- I just don’t know how to bring that to the Court and to our higher-ups without being offensive or insubordinate.” — Katharine
  • “I enjoyed the very informative probation officer role description and its importance in addressing and understanding domestic violence perpetrators and victims.” — Christine
  • “As an advocate, I benefited from knowing what the judge looks at in court.” — Tanya
  • “Excellent, excellent, excellent!” — Lynette
  • “I loved with the Judge said about sentencing guidelines and not being quick to reduce sentences and how Probation should be part of the Pre-Trial process.” — Traci
  • “Learning about the various tools for DV offenders, as well as stressing that probation should be involved during discussions/plea agreements. Great job representing probation officers and the many hats we do wear!! Excellent presentation!” — Deanna
  • “Excellent speakers. I didn’t realize Probation did such varied work.” — Mary



Additional Resources
2 years ago
After the Webinar: The Court’s Eyes and Ears. Q&A with the Presenters
Webinar presenters Sara E Mahoney and Judge Eugene Hyman answered a number of your questions after t […]
4 years ago
Domestic Violence and Domestic Homicide Investigations
Working on domestic violence cases can get tricky. Victims may not want to leave their abusers and m […]
4 years ago
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Managing the Narcissistic, Coercive and Controlling DV Offender
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tells the story of a man who suffered from an internal conflict between good […]
5 years ago
An Approach to High Lethality Domestic Violence Offenders: The Accountability Court Model
Domestic violence cases can get problematic given the relationship dynamics between offender and vic […]
6 years ago
Supervising the Domestic Violence Offender: What I’ve Learned from the Field
Domestic Violence Offenders are often times charismatic, charming and come across as “easily mana […]