Local News

Federal Agency Being Asked to Review State Probation Offices

Posted April 14, 2008

— The state Department of Correction is going to ask a U.S. Department of Justice agency to review training and practices of probation offices in the state's urban areas, where caseloads are heavy and courtrooms are packed.

DOC spokesman Keith Acree said an official letter of request will go out this week to the National Institute of Corrections, which provides policy development assistance, technical assistance and training to federal, state and local prison agencies.

The request comes nearly two weeks after the DOC's Division of Community Corrections released results of an internal probe regarding the probation cases of two men charged in the death of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior Eve Carson.

The suspects in the case, Demario James Atwater, 21, and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 17, were both on probation at the time of Carson's March 5 death. The internal investigation found a number of failures and oversights in how their cases were handled.

Acree said the NIC would look at case management, staffing levels, employee training and how North Carolina compares with what other states are doing.

Three employees in the Durham County probation office have resigned in the past few weeks, including Lovette's probation officer, Chalita Thomas. She had been on administrative duty because of a DWI charge in December.

Acree said he doesn't know if the other resignations are connected to the current investigation into the offices in Durham and Wake counties.

At least three members of senior management of the Wake County office have been reassigned. Acree said further disciplinary action likely would follow.

"At this point, I'm comfortable saying there will be personnel action. What, I don't know yet," he said.

State House Judiciary Chairman Dan Blue, D-Wake, said he hopes the internal investigation will be fair.

"What you want to see in reports that are internally generated is to make sure they have a sense of objectivity about them," Blue said.

Probation officials defend their course of action, saying the internal look will help identify the local breakdown.

They hope to have take their findings to the General Assembly when it convenes in May.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • davidgnews Apr 14, 2008

    Oh great, an even more inefficient (federal) agency looking at an inefficient (state) agency.

    Yeah, that'll work.

  • GWALLY Apr 14, 2008

    Oh boy....now I feel MUCH better....the fed investigating the state.....!!!!

  • dsdaughtry Apr 14, 2008

    A Probation Officer is someone that works primarily in an office environment that is assigned various cases and in most cases an overload of case management. A Surveillance Officer is NOT a probation officer but reports back to his/her Probation Officer on the status of the person they are checking up on. A Surveillance Officer cannot recommend or revoke probation on any offender. They must recommend back to the Probation Officer and then that person must submit a Revocation Order back to the court then see a judge.

    We should recommend that a Surveillance Officer be able to perform the same duties as a Probation Officer however a Probation Officer should be assigned a duty station at the Magistrate Court when District/Superior Court is not in session. This will help identify and add more Probationary Field Officers instead of hiring more Probation Officers which will take months to clear the process. Giving Surveillance Officers more limited powers will assist an apparently strained o

  • oconneygirl Apr 14, 2008

    life sentence first offense; no possibility of parole.

    Well said...well said!!

  • whatelseisnew Apr 14, 2008


    Great comment and oh so true. Resignations: Absolutely. First and foremost Governor Easley should resign. This is just one of many fiascoes that should should accept ownership of, apologize profusely, and then go back to Southport and stay there. Next staffing and funding; establish what is needed and have adequate resources. Do not make the mission harder to put them back into prison. If they violate their conditions, put them back. I don't care if they eat a cookie after nine o'clock at night. If that violates their probation terms put them back. Finally, assuming this could be done constitutionally, make it a felony to be a member of a known criminal gang. Just get them on film, arrest them, and put them away - life sentence first offense; no possibility of parole.

  • Meandmytwo Apr 14, 2008

    They all should be ashamed of what has happened. Get all the bad apples out the bunch while they are at it. This should not be an issue if everyone would have done there job. Those people are trying to be ahead of the firing that is sure to come. If those that are involved in this tragic mess, they better resign also.

  • simbo Apr 14, 2008

    Lets see! The Federal Gov. is going to help the State Gov. fix a problem! This should be interesting!