U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Officer

  • United States Courts
  • Madison, WI, USA
Full Time Government Legal Community Services

Job Description

The Western District of Wisconsin is dedicated to the continued implementation and application of evidence-based practices in the management and oversight of defendants and persons on post- conviction supervision, along with providing quality investigative reports to the court.  We are committed to ensuring that all aspects of service to the court and the community remain at high levels.  Delivering this high level of performance is essential to accomplish our mission, which is as follows: 

“Collectively we contribute to a safer community by fostering positive,lasting change in the lives of those we serve.”

We believe that leadership is a shared responsibility of all team members and that no one person is more important than any other within the organization.  We encourage creativity in problem solving and encourage all staff members to look for opportunities to lead. 

 Position Summary

Probation and pretrial services officers perform functions that aid judicial officers in making informed decisions on persons charged with and convicted of criminal offenses and supervise persons to assure their compliance with the conditions of release. 

Summary of Representative Duties and Responsibilities  

  • Conducts pretrial investigations and prepares pretrial reports for the court with recommendations addressing risk of flight and risk of danger to the community. Gathers comprehensive, factual, and objective information that is verified with collateral resources.  Provides written and verbal assistance to the court regarding pretrial procedures in a clear, logical, and concise format.
  • Conducts presentence investigations and prepares reports for the court with recommendations for sentencing. Preparation of these reports requires interviewing defendants and their families; investigating the offense, prior record and financial status of the defendant; and contacting collateral sources.  An integral part of the presentence investigative process, including responses to objections, is the interpretation and application of the U.S. Sentencing Commission Guidelines and relevant case law.  
  • Supervises persons under pretrial and post-conviction supervision to promote positive lifestyle changes, to maximize compliance with court-imposed conditions, to reduce risk to the community, and to provide for correctional treatment. An integral part of the supervision process is developing and implementing appropriate strategies utilizing evidence-based practices.  
  • Maintains personal contact with persons under pretrial and post-conviction supervision through telephone and electronic means and visits in the office, home, and community. Personal visits may take place in neighborhoods or environments where illegal activities and violence could occur.  Investigates employment, sources of income, lifestyle and associates to assess risks, criminogenic needs, and compliance with court-ordered conditions of supervision.
  • Detects and investigates any violations of conditions of supervision, including substance abuse, and implements appropriate strategies and sanctions. Reports violations of the conditions of supervision to the court and appropriate authorities.
  • Officers initiate contact with, reply to, and seek information from a variety of sources such as the U.S. Parole Commission, Bureau of Prisons, defendants/persons under supervision and their families, community partners, law enforcement officials, treatment providers, victims, and attorneys. As representatives of U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, officers are expected to treat everyone with dignity and respect.
  • Officers prepare an array of reports and may be required to testify in court as to the basis of findings, case information, and guideline applications. Officers serve as resources and subject matter experts for the court.
  • Officers are required to maintain a detailed written record of case activity.
  • Officers interpret and apply complex rules, policies, and procedures while ensuring judicial and statutory requirements are being met.
  • Mandatory evenings and weekend work is required for supervision activities and/or mission critical tasks. Some training and travel, including overnight stays, are required.  Officers may be required to work more than 40 hours per week in order to meet job requirements and deadlines.  Overtime pay is not authorized by the Judicial Conference of the United States.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.


  •  A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in a field of academic study, such as criminal justice, criminology, psychology, sociology, human relations, and business or public administration. An advanced degree from an accredited college or university is preferred.
  • Must have the ability to interact and communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing.
  • Must be mature, responsible, organized, and demonstrate sound ethics and judgment. Must possess a positive attitude, integrity, initiative, and the ability to work with a wide variety of people with diverse backgrounds. 
  • Must work well under pressure and meet deadlines.
  • A valid driver’s license is required.
  • Additional preferred skills include: fluency in a foreign language and licensure or certification in a behavioral science (LMSW, CADC, LPC, etc.).

Specialized Experience

 A minimum of one year of specialized experience is necessary to qualify at the CL25 level.  A minimum of two years of specialized experience; or completion of a master's degree in a field of study closely related to the position, or a Juris Doctor (JD) degree is necessary to qualify at the CL27 level. Specialized experience is progressively responsible experience gained after completion of a bachelor’s degree, in such fields as probation, pretrial services, parole, corrections, criminal investigations, or work in substance/addiction treatment qualify.  Experience as a police, custodial, or security officer, other than any criminal investigation experience, is not creditable for this position.  

 Educational Substitutions

Completion of a bachelor’s degree and one of the following requirements may be substituted for one year of specialized experience: overall “B” grade point average or a “B+” (3.5 out of 4.0) average in a major field of study; standing in the upper third of the class; election to one of the national honorary scholastic societies meeting the minimum requirements of the Association of College Honor Societies, other than freshman honor societies; OR completion of one (1) academic year (30 semester or 45 quarter hours) of graduate work in a field of study closely related to the position.

 Other Conditions of Employment

This is a hazardous duty position and subject to mandatory separation at age 57, after the completion of at least 20 years of service.  First-time appointees to positions covered under law enforcement officer retirement provisions must not have reached their 37th birthday at the time of appointment.

As a condition of employment, the selected candidate must successfully complete a comprehensive background investigation and every five years thereafter will be subject to a re-investigation. Prior to appointment, the selectee will undergo a drug screening and medical examination.  Upon successful completion of the medical examination and drug screening, the selectee may then be appointed provisionally.  A full background investigation will be completed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) once the incumbent has entered onto duty as a provisional hire.  If the OPM report reflects any findings of a negative nature or disqualifying actionable issues, suitability will be reconsidered by the Chief District Judge and the Chief U.S. Probation Officer.   

Employees are subject to ongoing random drug screening, updated background investigations, and may be subject to subsequent fitness-for-duty evaluations.   The duties of a probation officer include moderate to arduous physical exercise and require physical dexterity and coordination necessary for officer safety and use of self-defense tactics.  The medical requirements and the essential job functions derived from the medical guidelines for probation officers, pretrial services officers, and officer assistants may be obtained at www.uscourts.gov website under the Federal Courts section.

All court employees, including U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Officers, are excepted service appointments and are required to adhere to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees which is available at http://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/judiciary-policies/code-conduct/code-conduct-judicial-employees.  

Fully appointed U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Officers may be removed by the Court for unacceptable performance, misconduct, or other cause, pursuant to 18 U.S.C § 3602(a).

Commencing on the date of entry on duty, the selectee shall complete a one-year probationary period. This period provides time for the employee to become acquainted with the functions of the assigned position. The probationary period also affords the employee’s supervisor the ability to evaluate the employee’s work performance, attendance, attitude, and compliance with office policies. Upon discretion of the Chief U.S. Probation Officer, and taking into consideration the employee’s work experience, performance, and acclimation to their assigned tasks, the probationary period could be removed prior to one year.  Once the selectee has successfully completed the probationary period, the provisional status will typically be removed.

During their first year of duty, probation officers receive extensive local training and must also successfully complete a six-week national training program at the Federal Probation and Pretrial Academy in Charleston, South Carolina.

Applicants must be citizens of the United States.


Federal benefits include paid vacation and sick leave, paid holidays, and retirement benefits. Optional benefits include health and life insurance, disability and long-term care insurance, dental and vision insurance, and a tax-deferred savings plan. This position is subject to mandatory electronic fund transfer (direct deposit) participation or payment of net pay.

 Procedures for Applying

 In order to be considered for this position, go to: 

 Application Link

 Complete the information fields and attach:

  1. Cover letter
  2. Resume with references (include references’ phone numbers)
  3. Judicial Branch Federal Employment Application (AO78). The AO78 is included in the link
  4. Copies (Unofficial) of college transcript. Transcripts must include grade point average
  5. Copies of two most recent performance-based evaluations
  6. A supplemental statement of no more than three typed pages addressing the following areas:
  • Describe the qualifications, skills, and abilities that you believe you possess that match the demands of the position.
  • Describe why it is your career goal to become a U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Officer, specifically for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Incomplete application packets will not be considered.

 Please note:  The court is not authorized to reimburse candidates for travel in connection with an interview or to pay relocation expenses to the successful candidate.

Only applicants who are interviewed in person will receive a written response regarding their application.

 The U.S. Probation/Pretrial Services Office reserves the right to amend the conditions of this job vacancy announcement, or to withdraw the announcement at any time without prior written or other notice. More than one position could be hired from this posting. The applicant pool generated from the announcement will remain active for up to 12 months, or less, at the discretion of the Chief U.S. Probation Officer.                                                                                         

 The United States District Court is an Equal Opportunity Employer


Law Enforcement

Education Requirements

Bachelor's Degree


$44,528 - $84,059