There’s More To Chenango County’s Probation Department Than Handing Out Punishment

By: Shawn Magrath

NORWICH – Saturday marks the end of appreciation week for pre-trial, probation and parole officers across the country and in recognition, the Chenango County Probation Department is spreading word about the impact it has in the local community.

According to Probation Director Karen Osborn, the field of probation has seen big changes in recent years. Whereas the role of the department was once to monitor probationers behavior from the office, it’s now more involved and visible in the community during non-traditional hours to assure community safety.

“We’re not just about punishment. We’re about changing peoples’ mindsets to get them to change their actions,” said Osborn, a 28-year veteran in the field. “This shift should have an impact on recidivism and will also improve positive outcomes for both the community and the offender.”

“Chenango County Probation is working hard to let the community and probationers as well know that Probation has new programs that have been designed to help people change their lives,” Osborn continued. “We have had probation in the county for years, but we haven’t always had such programs that assist them in changing their lives for the better.”

The Probation Department introduced the first of these programs in July, when Probation Officer Jonathan Dunckel, in collaboration with CDO Workforce Employment Counselor Susan Sheldon, began an employment program titled Ready Set Work. The five-week program was created to help probationers learn the skills needed to obtain and retain jobs in the area by working with local employers, including the Raymond Corporation in Greene - which has since hired several probationers upon completion of the program.

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