The Ventura County Probation Agency is dedicated to supporting victims of crime. One of our core values is support. We focus on restoration by providing access to trauma-informed services and facilitating healing. Probation collaborates with justice system stakeholders and allied organizations, community-based partners, and community members to support victims and to provide evidence-based programming and other services to those under supervision.
Adult Investigations is responsible for writing pre-sentence investigations on persons convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanors (such as domestic violence and sex related offenses). A Deputy Probation Officer (Probation Officer) will contact victims as part of their pre-sentence investigation. Once contact is made, a Probation Officer will notify the victim of their rights, which include the right to attend the sentencing hearing and the right to provide a victim impact statement. An oral or written victim impact statement will be obtained from the victim, which is then forwarded to the Court for consideration. Victims also have the right to address the Court at sentencing. A Probation Officer will help determine if the victim sustained any financial losses related to the crime and forward the restitution request to the Court, as well as request a stay away or no contact order on behalf of a victim. Additionally, a Probation Officer may assist a victim in contacting a Victim Advocate https://www.vcdistrictattorney.com/victims/ who can provide additional support and resources.
Juvenile Investigations perform statutorily mandated functions which include investigating and preparing a variety of court reports. As part of the investigation Deputy Probation Officers (Probation Officers) contact victims to obtain a victim impact statement. Probation Offices will also inquire if they are seeking restitution. The victim impact statement may include their opinion on what consequence the youth should receive. Victims are also advised that they have a right to be present at hearings and address the court. Victims are also referred to Victim Advocate https://www.vcdistrictattorney.com/victims/ who may provide additional support/information.
In the Juvenile Intake Unit, Deputy Probation Officers (Probation Officers) prepare reports for the Court for youth arrested and detained in the Juvenile Facilities. Once the District Attorney files charges against the youth, the probation officer will attempt to contact all the listed victims. The Probation Officer will advise the victim(s) of the filed charges and their right to make a statement to the Court, which may include the impact the youth’s actions had on their life and whether there were any additional related issues such as harassment or intimidation. The Probation Officer will also ask whether the victim incurred any financial loss due to the youth’s actions and relay that information to the Court for possible restitution determination. The Probation Officer may provide contact information for the District Attorney’s Victim Advocate’s Office https://www.vcdistrictattorney.com/victims/ to assist the victim in accessing assistance and services. Lastly, the probation officer will advise the victim of the upcoming court hearing and their right to attend. The information obtained from the victim will be summarized and included in the court report, but their contact information remains confidential. The Probation Officer will send a victim letter to all victims, advising them of their rights, restitution information, and the Victim Advocate’s contact information.
If a detention report is prepared for a juvenile between the ages of 10 and 17 years old, the Probation Officer writing the report will complete the Commercial Sexual Exploitation Identification Tool (CSE-IT) to identify whether the youth has been, or is at risk of becoming, commercially sexually exploited. If the youth scores “clear concern” on the risk assessment, the probation officer will contact Child Protective Services https://www.ventura.org/human-services-agency/child-protective-services/ and relay the information. Child Protective Services will then make any appropriate referrals to provide services to the youth.
The Adult Field Services units and Probation and Post Release Supervision (PPR) units oversee the supervision of clients granted formal probation or mandatory supervision by the Courts for felony or misdemeanor offenses. The PPR units also supervise those offenders who were recently released from state prison. Victim contacts are conducted routinely to ensure their safety and overall compliance from the offender, in addition to providing assistance by referring them to services and resources geared toward victims and their rights as a victim. If an offender is ordered by the Court to pay restitution to victims, Deputy Probation Officers (Probation Officers ) hold the offenders accountable to remit those payments in an effort to make the victim whole. The overall goal of probation is to ensure positive outcomes and rehabilitation of the client, while concurrently providing a level of supervision to not only keep the community safe, but to hold the offenders accountable.
When a person is convicted of a domestic violence offense and granted probation, the victim’s safety is of upmost importance. Once the client is assigned a Deputy Probation Officer (Probation Officer), they will make every effort to promptly contact the victim. The Probation Officer will also discuss victim safety concerns, resources available to the victim and explain that there are no guarantees the client will not reoffend. After the initial phone contact, the Probation Officer will mail the victim a victim letter, along with their business card, a Victim Information Brochure with available resources and contact information, and a card for the Ventura County Family Justice Center, https://vcfjc.org/.
During the client’s probation grant, the Probation Officer will make reasonable efforts to contact the victim on a regular basis, to obtain information regarding the client’s behavior toward the victim. The Probation Officer will also be responsive to reports from the victim regarding their concerns. The Probation Officer will notify the victim if the client is terminated from the court ordered domestic violence counseling or is being returned to court for violations of his/her probation terms.
Clients are statutorily required to attend a 52-week Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP), https://venturaprobation.org/services-providers/services-providers-batterer-intervention/ commonly referred to as domestic violence counseling. The trained program counselor will make reasonable efforts to contact the victim separately from the client, both verbally and in writing, within 30 days of the client’s enrollment in counseling. The counselor will also advise the victim of community support services, the client’s probation officer’s name and contact information, and a copy of the client’s contract for BIP. The program will be responsive to any reported victim concerns while the client is in counseling.
Deputy Probation Officers (Probation Officers ) assigned to work in a field assignment are tasked with the supervision of the youth who are placed on probation as well as servicing the victim of the youth’s offense. The assigned Probation Officers will attempt to contact the victim of the crime and inform them of their rights, such as their right to restitution and obtaining a restraining order, connecting with victim notification services, as well as information regarding the Ventura County Family Justice Center (VCFJC, https://vcfjc.org/ ), and the Victim Services Division of the District Attorney’s Office https://www.vcdistrictattorney.com/victims/. The Probation Officers help complete forms to open, modify or close victim restitution matters and, if requested, can provide the Court with information on behalf of the victim during subsequent hearings, post disposition. Deputy Probation Officers help facilitate the needs of the victim by providing information to community-based organizations and other county agencies while supervising the youth on probation.
Furthermore, beginning in July 2022, the Probation Agency and the District Attorney’s Office began a collaboration with Interface Children and Family Services (https://www.icfs.org/) for a grant named Harm to Healing (H2H), a Restorative Justice Conferencing program. H2H is oriented towards the needs of those who are harmed, to re-empower the victim, encourage accountability of those who cause harm, restoration of relationships to the extent possible, and prevention of future harm. Victims are consulted to determine their amenability to participating in the conference, and services can last up to 6 months.
Placement youth (also known as youth in care) are held accountable for their acts against those they victimize. Deputy Probation Officers (Probation Officers ) assigned to Juvenile Placement must maintain contact with victims to ensure they feel safe and are reimbursed for any loss sustained by youth in care. Some cases require Probation Officers to contact the victim to advise when a probationer absconds from probation for safety purposes. Youth in care may be held accountable to the victim by participating in treatment, completing community service, their liberties may be limited with terms and conditions of the Court, they may be ordered to complete custody commitments, restitution to the victim can be ordered, and/or contributions to the victim restitution fund. Youth in care may make restitution payments with allowances provided by their STRTP program or from earned wages. The placement unit also makes referrals to therapeutic programs for the youth and their immediate family members who they may have victimized for the purposes of reunification.
Youth in care are especially vulnerable to being trafficked and exploited. A large population of CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) youth are or were involved in the welfare/foster care system. These youth are easily targeted because of their need for love, affirmation, and protection. The goal of the placement unit is to look for and provide safe environments for victims of exploitation. The first step in identifying the victim is utilizing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation Identification Tool, CSE-IT tool. Once the victim is identified, a CSEC Child and Family Team (CFT) meeting is completed within 10 days, and referrals are made to Forever Found https://www.foreverfound.org/ and other therapeutic services. The placement unit ensures CSEC youth are placed in homes that specialize in CSEC services and the assigned probation officer maintains constant contact with program staff and the youth to ensure services are being delivered and received. Once CSEC youth are placed, ongoing CSEC CFT’s are completed to address any concerns, issues, deficiencies, and to plan ahead for the youth once they leave the home.
What is the VCFJC (https://vcfjc.org/)?
In 2019, the VCFJC was opened at 3170 Loma Vista Road, in the city of Ventura, directly across from the Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC). The VCFJC is operated by the District Attorney’s Office through the Victim Services Unit. The VCFJC serves victims under the following six crime areas: domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder and dependent adult abuse, human trafficking, hate crimes, and other violent crimes. However, all clients that self-identify as a victim of any of the above crimes are eligible to receive services at the VCFJC. There does not need to be a criminal case to receive services.
The VCFJC is a collaborative team consisting of more than 40 public agencies, community-based organizations, and volunteers working together to support and improve the lives of those impacted by family violence and trauma. In working together, the VCFJC seeks to decrease trauma, mitigate future risks, eliminate repeat victimization, and make a positive impact in the lives of families and those they serve. It is through this collective and holistic approach survivors and their families can feel supported and empowered.
At the VCFJC, access to services is free and confidential. The VCFJC is a safe environment where services such as assistance with restraining orders, access to basic necessities (food, clothing, gift cards, etc. etc.), referrals to partner agencies, forensic medical examinations and interviews with law enforcement, referrals and/or immediate assistance to shelters, and connecting with legal aid can occur. Further, not only do clients and their families have access to a multitude of services available at their immediate disposal but clients seeking a Domestic Violence or Elder Restraining Order also have the convenience and safe environment to attend Court via Zoom at the VCFJC. The ability to attend Court via Zoom provides the client with another level of support and alleviates any additional stress of being in the presence of the perpetrator/respondent.
Understanding some clients might be in need of additional support, the District Attorney’s Office sought the assistance of three facility dogs, Trakr, Star, and Comet. Trakr is specifically assigned to the VCFJC to provide assistance to client’s seeking services and Safe Harbor interviews.
Additionally, Safe Harbor (West location) was moved from its original location to the VCFJC. The co-location has allowed for a warm connection to be made with victims during interviews with law enforcement, providing the opportunity for victims to access services immediately. Warm connections are not only made in the beginning of the process, but also occur after a case has been dispositioned in court and the defendant has been sentenced. Additionally, continuous support is provided throughout the duration of the criminal case.
Further, the VCFJC not only provides immediate assistance to clients, but also refers them to long-term services to address housing, mental health, financial, health, career, education, civil legal, child development, and other services. This also includes an evidence-based camping and mentoring program for children exposed to trauma, Camp HOPE . The vision of Camp HOPE is to break the generational cycle of family violence. Their commitment to help children impacted by violence to heal and take back their childhood is crucial as research demonstrates that these children have a higher probability to be involved in the delinquency or criminal justice system.
To provide a victim-centered approach the Ventura County Probation Agency has assigned a Senior Deputy Probation Officer full-time to the Ventura County Family Justice Center (VCFJC) https://vcfjc.org/. The SrDPO assigned to this position is responsible for assisting victims and/or clients at the VCFJC. Through this collaboration, victims referred to VCFJC by probation experience a warm handoff and there has been an increase in victims’ commitment to follow through with services. There have been multiple instances where a victim was referred to the VCFJC by the defendant’s assigned Deputy Probation Officer. The warm handoff allowed the victims to feel comfortable to report to the VCFJC so they could be screened for services that would be available. Improved engagement with services is vital as trauma endured by the victim can have a tremendous effect on their lives and the lives of their family.
An assessment, Commercial Sexual Exploitation Identification Tool (CSE-IT), is used to determine youth (10 – 17 years old) that need services related to sexual exploitation and human trafficking. If the youth scores “clear concern” on the risk assessment, the Deputy Probation Officer will contact Child Protective Services https://www.ventura.org/human-services-agency/child-protective-services/ and relay the information. Child Protective Services will then make any appropriate referrals to provide services to the youth. The youth are typically referred to Forever Found https://www.foreverfound.org/ for counseling and ongoing mentoring.
Human Trafficking Community Awareness Toolkit
Forever Found R.E.A.C.H 24/7 Crisis Response Team (805) 261-1212
(Responding to Exploited Adolescents with Care and Hope)
Interface Children and Family Service
24/7 Family Violence and Human Trafficking Response Hotline 1-800-636-6738
Adult Protective Services: 1-800-654-3200
Child Protective Services: 1-800-654-3200
Coalition For Family Harmony: 1-800-300-2181
Forever Found: 1-805-306-8018
Forever Found R.E.A.C.H 24/7 Crisis Response Team: 1-805-261-1212
(Responding to Exploited Adolescents with Care and Hope)
Interface Children and Family Services: 1-805-485-6114, 24/7: 211
Megan’s Law (Information on sex offenders pursuant to Penal Code Section 290.46)
Ventura County District Attorney, Crime Victim Assistance Unit: 1-805-654-3622
Ventura County Family Justice Center: 1-805-652-7655
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office – Inmate Information: 1-805-654-3335
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office – Victim Resources
Ventura County Superior Court Collections Unit: 1-805-639-5010
Victim Bill of Rights – California