Kueser gets experience with Missouri Probation and Parole

Rita Forbes

In her last semester at Missouri Southern, senior criminal justice major Carla Kueser decided to get out of the classroom.

Taking advantage of the criminal justice department’s internship program, Kueser is currently working with Missouri Probation and Parole.

The field office supervises those on probation or parole, helping them transition while keeping public safety the first priority. Kueser said her internship has allowed her to both observe and participate in the criminal justice process.

Six weeks into the semester, she was already making home visits to monitor clients, writing reports, going to court, and conducting interviews.

Kueser said offenders can be seen from different perspectives.

“Sometimes the law enforcement perspective is that we need to put them all away,” she said. “They’ve been put away for the crimes they’ve committed, but the majority will come back out. We need to help them adjust and transition.”

Different offenders require different levels of supervision, based on their risk level to the public and any special needs.

They may have monthly or weekly visits to ensure they are employed, receiving any necessary treatment, and obeying all laws. Some are electronically monitored as well.

Kueser has learned to approach offenders with an open mind.

“If you take on the cynical attitude, you won’t be able to help them and provide the assistance they need,” she said.

Compassion and empathy are important to Kueser. She said if there is a gap between professionals in the criminal justice field and the people they serve, it prevents people from succeeding in their transitions.

“Seeing these people’s lives, seeing all the things that impact them, really helps me to understand and see things from their perspective,” she said.

Kueser likes to investigate things and especially enjoys going to court as part of her internship.

“You get to see multiple actors in the criminal justice system in action,” she said. “Lawyers, law enforcement officers, prosecuting attorneys – we all try to stay on the same page.”

She compares working with probationers to teaching.

“You hope you can get through to them,” she said. “When you see a client succeed and make changes to their behavior, it makes you feel good.”