Local News

Reports: Wake, Durham probation offices 'in crisis'

Posted August 25, 2008
Updated February 11, 2009

— Investigative reports obtained Monday by WRAL News show Durham County and Wake County probation offices were disorganized and inefficient and that the Durham office was "in a crisis situation with its work force."

The probes, ordered in the wake of the shooting deaths of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior Eve Carson and Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato, indicate one of the biggest problems for both offices was failure to track offenders, especially absconders.

Both Demario James Atwater, 22, and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 17, were on probation at the time they were arrested in connection with the deaths. Probation officers had overlooked each suspect, according to an internal review of how their cases were handled.

Veteran management teams from the Department of Correction's Division of Community Corrections, which oversees the probation system, were then brought in to review the Wake and Durham offices. Those interim teams found a number of other problems.

Case files were transferred too often from probation officers for no apparent reason in Durham County, the report stated. They were also out-of-date and disorganized, and some files were missing.

"There did not seem to be much structure or protocol as to how things were done. (Everything was dealt with in a spontaneous manner.)," the Durham report stated.

The review audited 2,174 of the approximately 4,300 Durham County offender files. of those, 36 percent had serious problems, 24 percent had moderate problems and 27 percent needed administrative follow-up.

In Wake County, 944 of the 7,424 offender files were audited. A quarter of them had serious problems, 18 percent had moderate problems and 36 percent needed administrative follow-up.

Interim managers also looked at the daily operations of both offices and found that vacancies in the Wake County office were not being filled in a timely manner.

In Durham County, the people in 32 of the 87 staff positions had less than five years of experience, and the audit team was concerned by vacancies and lack of supervision to the offender population.

"This is just embarrassing," Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown said Monday. "This is a very damning report. This is a crucial agency that, in the past, has put the public in harm's way."

Brown said the reports' findings indicate change is needed not only in the Wake and Durham offices, but in the division.

"He's led us into this situation," Brown said of Division of Community Corrections Director Robert Guy. "And it's an embarrassment, not just for Wake and Durham counties but the entire state. Where is the accountability? Where does the buck stop?"

Guy said change is on the way. The managers in both offices have retired, resigned or been reassigned, but no one has been fired.

The offices have also overhauled operations, recreated missing files and provided additional training for probation officers.

Guy also named new managers on Monday, effective Sept. 2, to replace those who were reassigned.

Diane Isaacs, formerly the Wake County interim district manager, was named acting assistant chief for community corrections in a 21-county region that covers Wake, Durham and Cumberland counties.

Margaret Brewer was named judicial district manager in Wake County, and John Lee was named judicial district manager in Durham County. Brewer will oversee 141 employee who supervise some 7,400 offenders. Lee will oversee 86 employees who supervise 4,300 offenders.

“The key thing is that new faces mean new policies and new management and new accountability," Brown said.


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  • only 4 me 2 c Aug 27, 2008

    This all happened under Robert Guy's watch. He should retire and now!!! He has known about the problems in Wake and Durham and the
    the problems with the Regional Manager. He is now placing the blame on others when he is just a guilty.

  • dare107 Aug 26, 2008

    Robert Guy, Should have been gone along with the rest, I worked there for 10 months and it was the most imcompedent agency I have ever been a part of!!! They can denie all they want but I personally told Theodis Beck of the problems when I separated in December. This is not sour grapes I left on good terms with outstanding reviews, Doug Pardue was a joke, Theodis Beck is a joke and so is his hintchman Fleetwood, He has not even been addressed in this entire investigation. He and Robert Guy are both incompediant!!!

  • newwake Aug 26, 2008

    None of this comes from the perspective of the probation officer. It would be nice to hear their perspective of how the system is not working. I would imagine you would hear the caseload is overwhelming, and the pay stinks.

  • whatelseisnew Aug 25, 2008

    Can anyone think of any Government departments that have done a stellar job?

  • PearlMonteverde Aug 25, 2008

    Does anyone see the irony in Eve Carson's death? She was very close to perfect......it took her life to bring to light the incompetence. Why are we allowing this to go that far??? Our leaders are allowing it. It's unacceptable.

  • kbo0801 Aug 25, 2008

    Ok they need to get rid of all of their employees starting from the top and start a new hire process. I am sure their are some people out here that are lookings for a new job and will do the work. I for one would be more than happy to screen the applicants. Anything to save the lives of innocent people.

  • davidgnews Aug 25, 2008

    Oh, on a lighter note, I don't play a banjo, but I do play a mean slide guitar! Stay safe, everyone. mebgirl1984

    I may not always agree with your opinions, but that is righteous and you're ok in my book. Don't ever stop playing, it's the one friend that will NEVER let you down.

  • applesmith Aug 25, 2008

    The whole system from probation to the courts is broke.Why try and fix it now.Same political old leaders have been running things for years in state goverment, Everything centers around a "DOLLAR" mo money mo money yea that ah fix it.Throw some at it!!!!!

  • davidgnews Aug 25, 2008

    "Guy said change is on the way. The managers in both offices have retired, resigned or been reassigned, but no one has been fired."

    It should start with him. Problem reports have been going back over the past 6-8 years, and now he's 'surprised?' Give me a break. I don't know how long he's 'been on the job,' but it looks like a political handout job that needs to end now.

  • colliedave Aug 25, 2008

    There is no reason the probation office to be in its current state of mass confusion. Each probationer's record needs to be available at once to anyone who needs to access it. Each individual needs to wear a GPS tracking device so his every move can be monitored. Any attempt at removing or interfering with the device would double the prison time.