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Durham probation office re-examining cases

Posted October 8, 2008

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— Twenty percent of offenders on probation in Durham County are unaccounted for, and probation officials there say they are in the process of re-examining cases in an effort to better track offenders.

"It is a large number. It is well above the average, and we're hoping to work on that," said Tony Taylor, one of the new assistant managers in the Durham office. "We are starting from zero and trying to review everything."

Taylor says his officers and local law enforcement agencies are out every day trying to find absconders in an effort to get that number down.

"But we're also trying to figure out how the numbers are growing so that we can pull them back in," he said.

Durham County handles a little more than 4,000 probation cases, and Durham leaders say they don't want the problem to be overlooked any longer.

"It's broken. We're drowning over here, and Wake County is not doing that much better," Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown said.

Issues with how offenders are tracked in both counties were exposed in the wake of the shooting deaths of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior Eve Carson.

Suspects in both of those cases were on probation when the crimes occurred, and internal reviews of their probation records showed each had been overlooked by probation officers in Wake and Durham counties.

Further examination into both counties found years of mismanagement and poorly tracked offenders.

For Brown, the issue now is resources, and he thinks $2.5 million allotted from the state budget to improve staffing, tracking and operations is not enough.

State Department of Correction officials want approximately $1.7 million to go toward additional probation officers and the rest toward mentoring programs, additional software and training to improve employees' efficiency. State lawmakers will meet again Oct. 21 to decide how to spend the funding.

Statewide, there are about 117,000 probation cases. In Wake County, 13.5 percent of the 7,400 offenders, or approximately 1,000 people, who are on probation are unaccounted for.

18 Comments

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  • present1 Oct 9, 2008

    Print this off and keep it.
    Probation Officers are trained mostly by prison guards who have never been PPO's and just read a lesson plan.
    Most curfews are checked before 8:30pm
    Probation officers are not peace officers and do not make arrests for new crimes (some other states do) PPO's in NC just wait and wait for a conviction on a new crime before they violate the current case (worthless)
    Most of the Supervisors are political appointees. Hard work and intelligence will not help you in DCC.
    I don't even want to talk about what goes on at the conferences. Most of these managers are married. The lack of integrity goes all the way to the top and is shocking.
    There is much, much more. Some PPO's do work hard but your entire career will add up to nothing accept your paycheck. To anyone with any interest in a CJ career. Go into real Law Enforcement. Not probation.

  • boochiebop Oct 9, 2008

    jrl211, you are so on point with your replies. The only ones who make these kinds of remarks are the ones that do not work in detention, probation and parole, or within the legal community here in Durham.

  • lilbit278 Oct 9, 2008

    Start where the trouble lies, with the Lawyers, DA's and Judges, until they stop all this peal deals and slaps on the wrist, nothing is going to change.

  • jrl211 Oct 9, 2008

    ghimmy51- You know a few probation officers that do that, but you don't know the rest of them. I know some very hard working probation officers who try to do their job to the best of their ability, only to be put into the same category as the rest of them. Not ALL probation officers are like that.

    Before you try and fix the probation system, they need to get to the root of the problem and try to fix the court system. Just the other day I watched a judge and DA give probation to someone who was just revoked not even a few months ago for absconding. When probation officers try to jump in and revoke someone for probation violations, their requests are being thrown to the wayside by the "court officials" who want to keep the offenders out of jail, in which case if that offender then goes and commits a serious crime, its automatically the probation officers fault for not revoking them before. We must place blame on the system as a whole, not just one section of it.

  • ghimmy51 Oct 9, 2008

    Let's hire some of the 12 million or so cheap laborers imported by the current administration and place a bounty on each probation case they bring up to date. You'd get results. "Quality of personnel?" What quality? I know the kind of people you're talking about VERY well. In the morning they eat breakfast at work. Then they read the paper. After, they plan where to go to lunch. After a hard day of a couple of calls and a piece of paperwork they start talking about going to the gym. Yes I know them. If somebody doesn't report they "might" try to call them and then it slides for months.

  • 68_polara Oct 9, 2008

    oitzme your right, I saw this first hand in Orlando Hudson's Durham county court room. As a juror I watch Orlando force a prosecutor accept a plea bargain from a previously convicted violent felon for violently assaulting two convenience store clerks at two different locations all in the same night. He severed a year. I've come to the conclusion that if your a victim of a violent crime in Durham you will not find justice but yet the pulled out all the resources in the world try to prosecute Dukes lacrosse team.

  • FastPitch Mama Oct 9, 2008

    People keep bashing probation/parole officers. Why don't you start by looking at the liberal Judge's who sentence the offenders and the District Attorney's that make plea bargains? Tell me how a offender that was charged with Indecent Liberties With a Child can be reduced to 2nd Degree Sexual Battery and receive only probation? The probation officers are not the bad guys!

  • twc Oct 9, 2008

    If the probation system is in such disarray why do the courts keep sending them more than they can handle? Get to the root of the problem!!

  • 68_polara Oct 9, 2008

    Yes, I have family here and a plot of land that I simply can not afford to replace else where but I think we have the majority of the city officials working against us. Change will have to come from within but I just don't see it coming anytime soon. Scandal after scandal we continue to see the same officials reelected over and over again. I mean is there any accountability at all in this town?

  • twc Oct 9, 2008

    Probation does not work!! We need to build facilities (warehouses, if you want to call them that) to house offenders until the probation system does work.

    Probation is a joke that most of these offenders know too well.

    Anyone who says incarceration costs too much is not taking into account the crimes those probationers continue to commit. That is not even taking into consideration the bad influence they have on other people to become offenders. When a potential offender sees that they can get by with crime and their only risk is reporting to a probation officer they are very likely to accept that risk.

    Confine them until we are sure they will do well while on probation!!! But confine them first--not after the third crime which is usually more damaging than the original crime for which they received probation.

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