December 21, 2016 at 9:23 am

Alum is Probation Officer with Allen County Juvenile Court

Dana Brown with her framed Ohio University degree on the wall next to her

Dana Brown

“I could not have asked for a more rewarding time at OHIO!” says Dana Brown ’10, now a Probation Officer with Allen County Juvenile Court. She is working on the Assessment Unit, which conducts all intakes on youth being placed onto probation, also known as “community control.”

During the intake process, Brown completes all necessary paperwork including signed releases, risk assessments, and initial case plans. She is often ordered by the court to complete pre-dispositional reports, which assist the judge or magistrate in determining the appropriate sentencing for a youth.

Brown also manages a caseload of diversion youth. These youth are normally status offenders whose charges are eligible to avoid the formality of the court process by working with an officer to address the underlying concerns leading to the offense. This frequently involves Court Assessment Services Team meetings to offer resources and services provided by local agencies such as children’s services and mental health service providers, as well as phone calls and individual meetings with the family.

“I love everything I do here in Allen County, from interacting with the youth to completing risk assessments to gathering information for pre-dispositional reports,” Brown says. “Returning to the juvenile justice system after five years in victim advocacy has been a welcomed change, and I feel it’s where God has called me to be.”

When Brown started at Ohio University, she was a music education major who wanted to be a high school band director. While she then felt led to follow a completely different path than music education, she wanted to have a part in mentoring those younger than her—by working with youth in the justice system. She graduated with her B.A. in Sociology-Criminology from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University and minor in Music.

“Ohio University has taught me so many important life lessons which have helped me become the person I am today. From marching in the 110 (Hi-O) my first year and going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2000, to finally obtaining my degree in 2010, after a long and challenging journey, OHIO helped me figure out who I am through life on campus, meeting friends and losing friends, learning from professors outside of the classroom, and making a ton of mistakes.

“I was blessed to have professors like Dr. Tom Vander Ven, who allowed me to bring my work experience into the classroom, and Dr. John ‘JD’ Durst at the Zanesville campus, who made class a trip to the zoo. And these same professors, along with Madame Deborah Stout in Zanesville, were extremely caring and considerate when I needed to take time away from class to focus on my father and his cancer diagnosis.”

Brown is working on her master’s degree in criminal justice through the University of Cincinnati and expects to graduate in 2018.

Brown faced a number of challenges in earning her degree.

She stopped attending in 2003 when she could no longer afford her share of the cost after student loans, even with working three jobs during the summer. Her grades reflected her constant stress over finances. In 2006 she earned an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice at Jefferson Community College (now Eastern Gateway Community College) in her hometown, Steubenville, Ohio.

Two years later, Brown returned to OHIO to finish what she started.

She says the biggest challenge she faced was during that final year when she was working full-time as a lieutenant at a juvenile detention center in Lancaster, and living in Hebron with her husband, but her classes were in Zanesville and Athens. That fall quarter she had two late afternoon classes in Zanesville. She would then drive an hour to Lancaster for a 10-hour shift at the detention center. At the end of her shift the next morning, she drove almost an hour to Athens for her Juvenile Delinquency class, which lasted two hours. She would grab a quick lunch before beginning an hour and a half drive home to Hebron.

“By the time I would make it to my bed and crash, I would be awake for close to 20 hours! I did this every week that fall. My husband was always worried about me driving home safely because I was so exhausted.

“But, when you want something, you will do whatever it takes. I’m thankful that my Master’s program is completely online!”

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