Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres and CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro on Friday jointly signed a proclamation declaring July 17 to 23 as Probation and Parole Supervision Week.
Torres and Castro noted that community corrections professionals are responsible for supervising adult and juvenile offenders in the community.
Torres and Castro said community corrections professionals are a true force for positive change in their communities.
The governor congratulated probation and parole officers and urged them to continue work hard in supervising adult and juvenile offenders in the community.
Castro described the probation and parole officers as the “forgotten law enforcement officers.”
Castro said when the criminal justice process starts rolling, the limelight focuses on the infantry division, which is the Department of Public Safety that makes the investigations and arrests.
Castro said the media’s focus or the limelight focus will then go to the courts.
The chief justice said after a defendant is sentenced, the case just like “disappeared from the face of the planet” as everyone forgot the term of sentence and the police officer or prosecutor who did a good job.
“I am so happy to be with you probation, parole officers this morning because I think I am those people that are guilty of not saying thank you for a job well done,” Castro said.
Castro said the job of probation and parole officers is as important as the infantry division when DPS address or investigate cases.
The chief justice said the job of probation and parole officers is very important because when people go to sleep at night they are awake and working, to make sure that those people, not only complying terms and conditions imposed by the courts, but they are also helping them, teaching them to become a productive citizen of the community.
“That is a tough job,” Castro pointed out.
U.S. Probation Officer Margarita Wonenberg delivered the inspirational remarks on behalf of U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, who was off-island on Friday.
Manglona said the CNMI’s community, like many others in the nation, face overwhelming challenges of prison overpopulation, exorbitant costs of incarceration, and high rates of recidivism in offender population.
“It is our best interest to effectuate change not only by imposing prison terms, but by allowing for changes in offenders according to their individual circumstances,” she said.
Manglona said probation and parole officers wear many hats as they reinforce positive behavior and encourage changes in those they supervise while making sure that community safety is preserved.
She said these professionals provide guidance, mentoring, supervision, and direction to offenders, and they must work to address issues that may affect successful outcomes.
Manglona acknowledged the critical roles that the probation and parole officers have in the lives of juvenile delinquents, and adult offenders and defendants.
Christina D. Sakaziro shared her success story during the ceremony. She said she used to be struggling with alcohol and having issues, including driving under the influence (DUI).
Sakaziro said Probation Officer Oscar Torres served like a big brother to her by guiding her path.