H.R. 1039 is a bill to expand the arrest powers of federal probation officers without a warrant. Currently, probation officers can only arrest people on probation without a warrant. This bill allows them to stop anyone no order needed, and they don’t have to be under their supervision. While people on probation have lost some of their Fourth Amendment rights, third parties have not. If probation officers have the power to arrest, they could potentially violate the Fourth Amendment rights, of individual citizens.
Currently, probation officers have the authority to arrest a probationer or a person on supervised release. The new law will permit probation officers to arrest “a person without a warrant if there is probable cause to believe that the person has forcibly assaulted, resisted, opposed, impeded, intimidated, or interfered with a probation officer, or a fellow probation officer, in violation of section 111.” In layman’s terms, a probation officer would be able to arrest anyone, without a warrant, if the officer claims a person was interfering with his work.
One of the issues, as with all incarceration issues, this would disproportionately impact people of color, the poor, and make the mass incarceration epidemic take a step in the wrong direction. This creates another situation in which Congress is giving permissions to its constitutional authority to another branch of the federal government, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Plus, probation officers are not policemen. Probation officers only complete six weeks of orientation training, and police officers complete 16 to 21 weeks of classroom training, in addition to weeks of on-the-ground field training.