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What is Probation?

The answer can differ greatly from state to state however probation in California has evolved to become one of the leaders in the use of evidence-based practices to help implement positive behavior change. Watch this video to find out more about how California Probation is Leading The Change in policy and in the lives of our clients.



Each of California’s 58 counties has a Probation Department.  The Probation Department, like the sheriff’s department, district attorney’s office, public defender’s office, and courts is a key component of the county’s criminal justice system.

The Probation Department works with adults, juveniles, pretrial detainees, and sentenced persons. The mandate that a county have a Probation Department is set out in Welfare and Institutions Code Section 270. 

The Probation Department is administered by the Chief Probation Officer who is appointed by the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court. The primary staff of the Probation Department are probation officers and institutional counselors who are sworn peace officers (Penal Code Section 830.5) with the powers of arrest, search, and seizure.