Probation and Parole: Occupation or Profession?


Monday, August 19, 2019
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Session Type: Workshop

The field of probation and parole employs approximately 90,000 officers across the country, providing critical services to clients, communities, courts, and paroling authorities. Many practitioners refer to themselves and their colleagues as “professionals” and to the field in which they work as a “profession.” While use of this terminology is common, it may not be entirely accurate. In our society, it turns out that the term “profession” has a specific definition and includes criteria that must be met to qualify an area of employment as a profession. Drawing on examples of well-known professions such as law and medicine, this session will explore the question of what makes a field of work a profession and whether probation and parole qualifies. As part of this exploration, specific strategies will be identified for increasing the professionalism of this field and of individual practitioners. The presenters will also make recommendations for action by the APPA that can help strengthen and professionalize the field.


William D. Burrell
Consultant, Independent Corrections Management,

William D. Burrell is an independent corrections management consultant specializing in community corrections, evidence-based practices, performance measurement, public management and organizational change. He has consulted and developed and delivered training for probation and parole agencies at the federal, state and county level across the country. Bill is currently serving as the coordinator for a statewide project to implement evidence-based practices in Pennsylvania’s 65 county adult probation and parole departments from 2003 to 2007, Bill was a member of the faculty in the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University in Philadelphia. Prior to joining the Temple faculty, he served for nineteen years as chief of adult probation services for the New Jersey state court system. Bill has his Master of Arts degree in criminal justice from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Susquehanna University. His book, Community Corrections Management: Issues and Strategies, was published in 2012 by the Civic Research Institute.