Thursday, June 13, 2013
One of the people charged Wednesday in connection with last week's rape and robbery of an elderly woman worked briefly as a parole officer.
The Kansas Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday that Jessica Ward worked for the department as a parole officer in Wichita from Feb. 4 to April 15 of this year.
Ward, 22, is charged with two counts of aiding a felon in connection with the attack on the elderly woman. John Thompson, 18, and a 17-year-old male are charged with rape, robbery and burglary in the case.
Department of Corrections Spokesman Jeremy Barclay would not say why Ward's employment ended in April and would only confirm she had worked briefly as a parole officer.
"They assist offenders as they reintegrate into the community," Barclay said. "This would be establishing, coordinating, participating in any community projects designed to enhance the rehabilitation and full reintegration process."
To become a parole officer, Barclay said, the department prefers candidates hold a bachelor's degree in a field related to the work they will be completing.
"We do allow experience to be substituted," he said. "Part of that being 60 hours or so of established course work from an accredited university or college."
Plus, the department conducts additional training for parole officers.
"Our parole officers also receive basic training and then a continual, annual in-service training so as to help guide them."
Barclay also said all Department of Corrections employees undergo a criminal background check before they are hired. Ward did not have a criminal record.