Katie Jones Applies Her Sociology Skills in Her New Position as a Parole Officer

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a concentration in criminology, deviance, and law in 2017, Katie Jones has recently taken a position as one of North Carolina's Probation/Parole Officer. Jones' first interaction with the American Criminal Justice System occurred when she participated in a degree-required internship with Mediation and Restorative Justice Center. As she stated, "I interned with the Mediation - Restorative Justice Center in Boone my senior year, and while there I had my first taste of the court system and an introduction to probation. Without that internship, I would not have been offered this position, nor would I have known what to expect from this position." 

After the internship, Jones landed her recent position.  Jones explained that her position required several stages of training to prepare for a caseload of individuals on probation. She also noted that her position requires interactions with various community programs to help her cases to do well while on probation or parole. She stated, 

"Since taking that job in August 2017, I have completed the basic training within the department, and currently have a caseload of individuals that have been placed on supervised probation by the courts, often with sanctions including community service, obtaining mental health or substance abuse assessments, and completing active jail time. My goal in this job is to help individuals within the criminal justice system overcome their criminal actions and be able to go back into society without those criminal tendencies.

While I have been employed with NCDPS, I have completed several training experiences, such as Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). This training was very informative as it detailed how my job might bring me into situations with individuals who have severe mental health / behavioral health issues, and it prepared me for how I would have to react in those certain situations.

Even though we are law enforcement, we are not a part of the Sheriff's Office in the county or the city police department. However, we do have a great rapport with those agencies and we are often called into certain situations to help, such as two instances within the last year in which a bomb threat was called into a school in the county. Another incident occurred at a school in the county about an individual with a gun, and we were dispatched to help then as well."

Jones is happy that she studied sociology. She has found it to be very helpful in her position. She particularly thinks that sociology prepared her to better understand how context matters for every individual she supervises, as well as understanding the constraints of institutions in addressing individual problems. As she stated, 

"My degree in sociology with a concentration of criminology, deviance, and law helped prepare me for this career in that I learned that every individual has their own story. No one grows up in the same circumstances, and those are factors that have to be taken into consideration when dealing with a large majority of the public on a daily basis. Sociology helped me realize that often times there is a reason for someone's criminal behaviors and actions, and other times there is not. I loved the criminology theories class and how it showed me to think about the "why" behind someone's behavior. That helps me to figure out how to react to someone's behavior and how to address it in terms of what their court-ordered sanctions are. If someone is completing all of their court-ordered mental health or substance abuse assessments and community service, I go out of my way to tell them that they are doing well. On the other hand, if someone is not doing what they are court-ordered, and/or are continuing to get into legal trouble, those actions have to be addressed by me to show that they are being held accountable by the criminal justice system."

Jones really loves her new career. She believes that sociology and Appalachian State prepared her well and hopes that other students take advantage of the curriculum and internships available while they are enrolled in college. She also gave this piece of advice to students currently enrolled, "Regardless of whether you want to enter the workforce immediately as I did or continue your higher education, an internship gives you experience and will help you ease into your next phase of life. Other than that, just have FUN. You are in an amazing program at the best school. Enjoy your classes, your awesome professors, and live life to the fullest."

The Department of Sociology is proud of Katie Jones' accomplishments and wishes her the best in her future endeavors. 

Kat Jones
Published: Mar 9, 2020 9:30am