Acknowledging the importance of probation to the criminal justice system, St. John’s University presented Gail Sealey, a Supervising Officer in the New York City Department of Probation, with a citation for essential service on June 29.
Ms. Sealey, who has more than 25 years of experience in the Department of Probation, was honored for educating the St. John’s community about the work of the agency, the value of probation as a law enforcement tool, and internship and career opportunities that exist for interested students.
James Kilfoil ’75SVC, ’83MS, Adjunct Professor, Criminal Justice, and Antoinette Collarini-Schlossberg, Ph.D., Chairperson and Associate Professor, Division of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Homeland Security, recruited Ms. Sealey a decade ago. She has been serving St. John’s students since.
“Gail is committed to providing important information to students interested in future career paths, and also informing them about the work of the department in general,” Dr. Collarini-Schlossberg said. “We are so grateful that she made a commitment to St. John’s.”
The Department of Probation works to provide community-based supervision for adults and juveniles convicted of crimes. It ensures offenders meet all of the requirements of their probation, including attending regular meetings with probation officers, social workers, and rehabilitative specialists. Provided offenders meet their requirements, they can live and work in their communities and with their families, avoiding prison.
Probation officers in New York City must have either an undergraduate degree and a background in social work, or a master’s degree in social work, education, or a related field.
Probation is the most common form of criminal punishment employed by courts in the US, a fact that surprises many, Ms. Sealey said.
“The goal is to prevent recidivism,” Ms. Sealey said, referring to the possibility of an offender repeating criminal activity after punishment. “We want to give people the tools to be productive members of society. It’s not an easy job.”
Prof. Kilfoil, a former federal agent and corporate security director, said the work of probation officers such as Ms. Sealey is essential to the criminal justice system. “Changes to the system are always being talked about,” he said. “Incarceration is essential to keep communities safe, but probation pays off by keeping people out of jail and reducing the possibility they become recidivists.”
Ms. Sealey called the honor “very humbling,” adding that working with the St. John’s administration, especially Prof. Kilfoil, has been inspiring. So, too, has been her work with St. John’s students, whom she called “wonderful.”
“It’s always a pleasure to talk to St. John’s students,” she said. “They’re humble, hardworking, and sincerely interested in what we do and how they can get involved.”