In August 1997, Adult Probation Services initiated the Domestic Violence Unit to work more aggressively with perpetrators of domestic violence and victims of domestic violence.
Currently there are four probation officers who work specifically with domestic violence offenders. These offenses include, but are not limited to Aggravated Battery, Domestic Battery, Battery, Stalking and Aggravated Stalking. Other offenses with domestic violence overtones are also assigned to the unit. Caseloads average 120 offenders.
Adult Probation Services works closely with the courts, service providers, victims and victims' counselors, to assure that the defendant is engaged in the appropriate counseling. Probation officers send an intake packet (including prior arrest, background information and release forms) and police reports to the service providers. All probation officers in the Domestic Violence Unit have completed the 40 hours training at A Safe Place and continue to attend training regarding domestic violence, both locally and statewide. The assistant director and team leader are members of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts Domestic Violence Statewide Planning Committee currently developing protocol for all probation officers throughout the State of Illinois. Two officers will be conducting statewide training in 2002. Another probation officer working specifically with domestic violence offenders is a member of the local service providers committee and is involved with protocol for new providers.
Individuals placed on probation for a domestic violence offense are seen a minimum of two times per month, with home visits and collateral treatment agencies being conducted every other month. Police record checks are also monitored monthly.
In June of 1999, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority granted Lake County Adult Probation Services a four year grant for two surveillance officers. These officers are responsible for seeing offenders on the weekends, evenings and holidays. They will check for drug/alcohol usage by random testing via Breathalyzer or urinalysis conducted in the field, contact with victims and regular police contacts. Also, these officers provide the police department with an up-to-date list of offenders in the community who are on probation/supervised supervision for domestic violence offenses.
Initially when an offender is placed on probation the victim(s) involved in the instant offense are contacted by mail or telephone. At that time the victim is advised of the sentence and conditions that the defendant was ordered to by the court. The victim is also given the following information:
- The probation officer's name;
- The specifics of the Court Order, i.e. treatment, contact visits, etc.;
- Information on how to obtain an Order of Protection;
- Information on A Safe Place, should a crisis occur;
- Instructions to contact the police and probation officer immediately should a crisis occur.
Should the defendant violate his conditions of probation, the court, the State's Attorneys Office and the victim are notified immediately.