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What to Do About a Corrupt Probation Officer?

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Getting sentenced to probation, or getting paroled, can be quite the relief for individuals convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, for some probationers and parolees, their assigned probation officer, or parole officer, can often make life miserable.

While probation officers are supposed to stick to just the court ordered monitoring, horror stories of corruption abound. Whether it's a probationer being coerced into sex, or a parolee being bribed to avoid a false report of a parole violation, the formerly incarcerated often don't know who to turn to for help, or what proof they need to show.

Whether you seek out the assistance of a private lawyer, or a non-profit group, hiring an attorney can make a big difference. Non-profits in other cities or states may still be able to help you at least secure a local attorney, if they cannot help themselves. If your probation officer is aware that you have hired a civil rights attorney, their attitude may immediately change. Even if they don't start walking on eggshells, you probably want to think twice before making a verbal threat to sue the person that controls your fate. Leave the threats to sue to your lawyer.

If you cannot afford a lawyer or find non-profit assistance, you can attempt to handle the matter on your own. However, before taking any actions, you should probably still at least talk to or consult with a local lawyer. Often state or local bar associations will be able to advise you when free legal clinics are happening in or around your area.

File Complaints

Generally, most government services must answer to another branch of government. Basically, to ensure that your complaint will not go to someone complicit in the corruption, it is generally a good idea to send a written complaint to multiple different agencies, both federally and within your state.

Government corruption is a rather serious charge. While most agencies or departments will have complaint or grievance procedures, your complaint should not stop there. State Attorney Generals, or other civil protection agencies, will often accept complaints from the public. Also, reporting corruption to the FBI, Department of Justice, and U.S. Attorney General can also be helpful.

Get Good Evidence

The most difficult part of fighting a corrupt government official, such as a probation or parole officer, is gathering good evidence. Being able to prove that you were bribed, lied to, defrauded, abused, or coerced to act, is not easy. In "he said she said" situations, parole or probation officers will generally make better witnesses than ex-convicts. To make matters worse, secretly recording a meeting with your probation or parole officer may be illegal, depending on your state's law, even if recording a police encounter would be legal.

However, if you are able to work with a law enforcement agency or department, you may be able to legally wear a wire during an official investigation. Also, if your parole officer meets you at your home, or other location, you may be able to record video and/or audio legally, if appropriate passive notice is provided (i.e. clear signage on your front door, or the door to your workplace).

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