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Interviewing, Report Writing,


Interviewing, Report Writing, & Testifying New Probation Officer s Orientation Indiana Judicial Center March 15, 2012 Interviewing Interviewing When do you ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Interviewing, Report Writing,

Interviewing,Report Writing, Testifying
  • New Probation Officers Orientation
  • Indiana Judicial Center
  • March 15, 2012

  • When do you interview clients?
  • Interviews for specific reports
  • Supervision contacts
  • Always trying to obtain information

Interviewing vs. Interrogation
  • Interview
  • Non-accusatory, objective, or neutral
  • Used to gather variety of information
  • Flexible and free-flowing
  • Dialogue between the participants
  • Interrogation
  • Accusatory and biased
  • Very specific and focused
  • Structured to find a specific piece of info
  • Persuasive techniques used

Interviewing Tips
  • Build rapport
  • First impression will go far
  • Talk on your way to your office
  • Set a positive and professional tone
  • Be informative
  • Introduce yourself
  • Explain your role
  • Explain the process
  • Talk about past conversations that lets them know
    they are not just a case to you

Interviewing Tips
  • Be polite
  • Avoid surprised and unpleasant expressions
  • Appear comfortable with questions and their
  • Be non-judgmental
  • Dont argue

Interviewing Tips
  • Upset or angry clients
  • Remain calm
  • Model the demeanor they should follow
  • Know your escape routes
  • Speak softly if they are loud
  • Open your door
  • End interview if threatened or inappropriate

Interviewing Tips
  • Difficult or uncooperative clients
  • Building rapport can help
  • Reflect discomfort
  • You seem
  • Reflect resistance
  • I hear you saying
  • Paraphrase resistance
  • I understand you are upset because
  • Allow time to vent
  • Take a brief break

Interviewing Tips
  • Listening skills
  • Dont interrupt
  • Reduce distractions (take notes or record?)
  • Make eye contact
  • Paraphrase, summarize, repeat back
  • Clarify answers
  • Keep your mind from wandering

Interview Questions
  • Closed-ended questions
  • Require one word answer
  • How many children do you have?
  • Are you married?
  • Are you working anywhere?
  • Did you have a good relationship with your
  • Open-ended questions
  • Require explanation
  • Tell me more about what you do in your job?
  • What do you think you could do to change that?
  • What have you tried before that worked?
  • What was your relationship like?

Interviewing Tips
  • Prepare BEFORE the interview begins
  • Read case notes, read reports, read demographic
    packet, etc.
  • Write out some questions from materials
  • Use guide for lengthy interviews or when specific
    information is needed
  • Let them stray from the guide and be flexible
  • Use pauses and encouragements to keep talking
    (uh-huh, yes, etc.)

Motivational Interviewing
  • In general, people tend to disclose information
    more freely and accurately when they feel they
    are being listened to, respected, and supported.
  • Style of communicating that helps people explore
    and resolve ambivalence about changing specific,
    maladaptive behaviors.
  • Major goal is to elicit change talk.

Motivational Interviewing
  • Active listening skills of MI
  • Open ended questions
  • Affirmations
  • Reflections
  • Summaries
  • Using active listening skills lowers defenses a
    person has and increases the quality of
    information received.

Motivational Interviewing
  • Stages of change
  • Pre-contemplation No awareness
  • Contemplation Some acknowledgement
  • Preparation Realization
  • Action Trying new behaviors
  • Maintenance Usually more than 6 months
  • Relapse/Exit Slipping back or perm change

Motivational Interviewing
  • General principles
  • Express empathy
  • Acceptance its possible to see and
    understand an offenders perspective and not
    agree with it.
  • Develop discrepancy
  • Focus on their behavior versus what they want
  • Avoid arguing
  • Counterproductive
  • Rolling with resistance
  • Develop strategies to combat resistance
  • Supporting self-efficacy
  • Support their belief in change

Report Writing
Common Reports for POs
  • Presentence Investigation Report (PSI)
  • Pre-dispositional Report (PDR)
  • Preliminary Inquiry (PI)
  • Modification Report
  • Petitions (PTR PTM)
  • Memos, letters, emails, notes, etc.

Writing Tips
  • Spelling
  • Use spell check on your computer
  • Dont ignore the red squiggle lines under words
  • Use a dictionary
  • Check for homophones and use the correct spelling
    (words that sound the same but are spelled
  • To, two, too
  • Rain, reign, rein
  • Their, theyre, there

Writing Tips
  • Contractions
  • Generally avoid in reports (informal)
  • Numbers
  • Spell out numbers zero to ten
  • Slang
  • Dont use it unless its in quotes
  • Plurals and possessive
  • s shows possession unless word ends in s

Writing Tips
  • Grammar
  • Use grammar check on your computer
  • Have another person read it
  • Does it make sense?
  • Thesaurus
  • Reports, describes, accounts, details, states,
    explains, characterizes, etc.

Writing Tips
  • Professional wording
  • He got drunk and
  • He was intoxicated when
  • He was kicked out of school
  • He was expelled during the 2011-2012 school year
    due to

Writing Tips
  • Objective
  • Real or factual without bias
  • Most sections of reports should be written
  • Subjective
  • Of ones feelings rather than fact
  • Typically when writing recommendations and/or
    evaluation at the end of a report

Writing Tips
  • Factually accurate
  • These reports matter!
  • Self reported information from client
  • Indicate whether or not it was verified
  • Know your audience
  • Judge, attorneys, defendant, DOC, public

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • INcite application
  • Ask supervisor about access
  • Incorporates IRAS into the report
  • Required to complete IRAS
  • Instruction manual on first page in the
    application plus information icons throughout
  • When in doubt, follow the instructions and ask
    your supervisor

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Face sheet
  • Demographics and a quick reference to information
    contained in the report
  • Legal history
  • Provide any details that you can for each offense
  • History carries from report to report

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Present offense
  • Official version
  • Attach documents when appropriate
  • Defendants version
  • Written statement
  • Use quotes when possible
  • Good information for attitudes and behavioral
    orientation section

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Victim information
  • Attach documents when appropriate
  • Required by statute to make (attempt) contact and
    provide certain information to the victim
  • Certification statement in the PSI

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Parent/family information
  • The defendant characterized his childhood in
    positive terms, reporting no instances of abuse
    or neglect during his formative years and stating
    that he and his siblings were adequately provided
    for, in a financial sense, during that time.
  • The defendant explained that his family situation
    abruptly changed in 2003 when his parents
    separated due to financial and communication
    problems. He recalled that the family resided in
    a nice home and were suddenly broke with
    their situation going downhill quickly. Over
    the next three years, he states that he and his
    siblings moved from home to home staying with

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Personal relationships (significant others)
  • Mr. Example reported that he has never married
    but has been in a relationship with Ms. Jane Doe
    since 2010. He indicated they are engaged,
    residing together in Bloomington, with plans to
    marry when their son is older and his legal
    situation is resolved.
  • The defendant stated that Ms. Doe is very
    supportive of his despite the hardship that his
    recent periods of incarceration created for her
    financially. He explained they have been unable
    to pay rent and living expenses without help from
    her family members.

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Dependents
  • Provide as much information as you can about
    dependents living within the same home
  • If residing outside of the home attempt to
    provide information about any existing child
    support orders and compliance

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Peer associations
  • Mr. Example indicates that he has changed his
    friends and associates within the past year in an
    effort to avoid further legal problems. He
    stated that he typically associates with his
    family, his girlfriend, and her family who have
    not been involved in the criminal justice system.

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Education
  • Try to verify as much as possible
  • Verification matters if sent to DOC where time
    cuts can be earned for achievements
  • The defendant reported he attended Bloomington
    High School South through the 10th grade and
    enrolled in the Graduate Alternative School in
    the 11th grade. He states that he withdrew from
    school after only two months at his new school
    because he lost focus. He describes his
    academic performance as being very good during
    his high school years.
  • Records obtained from Monroe County Community
    School Corporation indicate that Mr. Example was
    expelled during his 10th grade year for being in
    possession of marijuana on school grounds. He
    was permitted to enroll in the Graduate
    Alternative School the following year, but was
    again expelled for truancy. Mr. Example obtained
    a total of 11 credits and earned a grade point
    average of 1.3.

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Employment
  • Try to verify as much as possible
  • Helpful to describe an employment history along
    with current employment
  • Obtain lengths of employment
  • Note periods of unemployment
  • If unemployed, list steps to gain employment or
    reasons why not
  • Include military information

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Financial situation
  • Try to verify as much as possible through copies
    of bills, pay check stubs, etc.
  • Document public assistance or disability
  • Document how they survive if not employment and
    no other sources of income

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Residence, neighborhood, and leisure
  • Try to verify address using GIS or mapping
  • Physical health
  • Obtain releases to healthcare providers
  • Obtain medication list if possible
  • Describe reasons for disability and length of time

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Mental health
  • Obtain releases to healthcare providers and
  • Obtain medication list if possible
  • Dont include substance use (next section)
  • Describe history when possible along with current

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Substance use
  • Obtain releases to treatment providers
  • Detail a history of use, age on onset, and
    current use
  • Describe treatment history and current efforts
  • Include contradictory information from official
    records (drug tests, etc.)

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Attitudes and Behavioral Orientation
  • Mr. Example made statements to law enforcement
    and in the preparation of this report indicating
    his belief that his actions do not substantiate
    the charges filed against him. He states that he
    was just the driver. When discussing the
    events that occurred inside the residence, Mr.
    Example reports that he is not responsible though
    he admits he knew what his co-defendants were
    planning we he agreed to drive them.
  • The defendant reported that he considers himself
    to be curious and adventurous without being a
    risk taker. He indicated that he believes these
    personality traits have contributed to his
    involvement in the criminal justice system.

Presentence Investigation Reports
  • Risk and needs assessments
  • Information from the IRAS is automatically
  • Add complimentary assessments if done
  • Evaluation/Summary
  • Summary objective
  • Evaluation opinion
  • Draw conclusions on appropriateness of sentence
  • Include aggravating and mitigating factors
  • Recommendations
  • Accept or reject plea make your own

Preliminary Inquiry
  • Personal information
  • Demographics
  • Current delinquent act information
  • Detention information (if applicable)
  • IV-E findings
  • Reasonable efforts and best interests

Preliminary Inquiry
  • Juveniles background
  • Prior legal history
  • Family information
  • School information
  • Employment information
  • Health information
  • Substance use information
  • Evaluation/Summary
  • Recommendation
  • Permanency Plan

Pre-dispositional Reports
  • New report on the horizon
  • Contains much of the same information
  • Incorporates the IYAS into the report
  • More information in the near future

Pre-dispositional Reports
  • Personal information
  • Demographics
  • Current delinquent act information
  • Client/parent statement
  • Use quotes when possible
  • Victim impact statement
  • Required by law to make the effort

Pre-dispositional Reports
  • Juveniles background
  • Prior legal history
  • Family information
  • School information
  • Employment information
  • Health information
  • Substance use information
  • Financial information
  • Home and neighborhood
  • Home adjustment
  • Religious and social orientation

Pre-dispositional Reports
  • Prior services and adjustment pending disposition
  • Risk and needs assessments
  • IV-E findings
  • Reasonable efforts and best interests
  • Permanency plan
  • Evaluation/Summary
  • DCS concurrence
  • Recommendation

Petitions, Memos, and Filings
  • When appropriate follow whats in statute
  • Establish facts
  • Defendant found guilty
  • Placed on probation
  • State violations, requests, etc.
  • Use standard forms when possible

  • Definition
  • Making of a statement under oath or affirmation
    in a judicial proceeding

Common Reasons POs Testify
  • Pretrial supervision or recommendations
  • Presentence or predisposition reports
  • Modification hearings
  • Violation hearings
  • Civil proceedings
  • Jury trials


Learn, Practice, and Observe
  • Learn what to expect
  • Talk to your chief or supervisor
  • Talk to your peers
  • Talk to your prosecutor
  • Talk to your judge
  • Practice and observe
  • Go through questions you may be asked
  • Watch experienced POs in court

Dress for Court
Dress for Court
  • Check with your Chief or Judge
  • Business (formal) attire
  • Tie, jacket, dress, suit, etc.
  • Out of county always assume formal dress
  • Look professional
  • Jewelry and tattoos should probably be minimized

Other Tips
  • Be on time!
  • Notify someone you are there
  • Reduce distractions
  • Do not take your phone if a distraction
  • Do not chew gum
  • Do not hold pen/pencil

Case File
  • Know what is in it
  • Keep it organized
  • Know what is alleged in PTR or PTM
  • Use summary sheet if needed
  • Have a recommendation
  • Take the file or not?

Case File
  • Maintain excellent documentation
  • Document each contact and appointment
  • Document what is expected of client
  • Be very clear in directives (examples below)
  • Treatment (goals and deadlines)
  • Public restitution (number of hours, deadline for
    completion, where to do hours)
  • Fees (amounts, pay plan, deadlines)

Case File
  • Documentation (continued)
  • Include other things discussed
  • Employment status
  • Address
  • Other conditions
  • Have client sign and give them a copy

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(No Transcript)
Testifying Tips
  • http//

Testifying Tips
  • Be HONEST and tell the truth, the whole truth,
    and nothing but the truth.
  • Swearing in or affirmation
  • Address the Judge as Your Honor or Judge
  • May have to testify about your training and

Testifying Tips
  • Body language
  • What you say is partially communicated through
    body language
  • Sit up straight
  • Do not be tense
  • Avoid distracting arm movements or hand gestures
  • Minimize nervous movements
  • Do not react to others through body language

Testifying Tips
  • Speak clearly at a normal rate of speech
  • Be polite, calm, and never argue
  • Answer directly and completely
  • Reflect on the question before answering
  • Pause and answer confidently
  • Look at the person posing the question and answer
    the audience
  • Avoid jargon and acronyms

Testifying Tips
  • Answer audibly (do not shake your head because
    you are being recorded)
  • Answer with words
  • No uh-huhs, yups, naws, etc.)
  • Clarify questions that you dont understand
  • Its okay to ask it to be rephrased
  • Dont volunteer information not asked

Testifying Tips
  • Wait for the question to be completed
  • Dont interrupt!
  • Avoid certain phrases
  • To be honest
  • To tell you the truth
  • Stop talking if you hear the word objection
  • Continue based on what the judge tells you

Testifying Tips
  • Is it okay to say I dont know?
  • Yes. Dont guess at an answer
  • What happens if you make an error?
  • Ask to correct it

Testifying Tips
  • Dont be intimidated
  • Defense attorneys job to
  • Damage credibility
  • Give impression you are inept
  • Expose inconsistency
  • Weaken your testimony
  • Win
  • Dont take it personal

  • Role is to testify, not convince
  • Judge will weigh evidence and assign credibility
    to your testimony

Testifying in Court Example
  • http//

  • Troy Hatfield
  • Deputy Chief Probation Officer
  • Monroe Circuit Court Probation Department
  • 812-349-2645 Office
  • 812-349-2008 Desk