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Perdue announces $26.5M in proposed probation reforms

Posted March 13, 2009

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— Gov. Bev Perdue on Friday said she wants to spend more $26.5 million over the next two fiscal year on changes to toughen the state's probation system and improve public and law enforcement access to information about offenders.

“These reforms will hold offenders more accountable, ease officer caseloads and will reduce crime on the streets,” Perdue said. “It will give probation and law enforcement officers more tools to do their jobs effectively.”

Perdue's plan, based in part on recommendations by the National Institute of Corrections, also calls for approximately $13 million in 2009-2010 and approximately $13 million the following year.

Among the proposed changes is approximately $14million for 117 additional probation and parole officers; $4.8 million to increase the pay grade for 1,048 officers to help raise recruitment and retention; and $620,000 for training. (View a complete list of Perdue's proposed changes.)

In addition, Perdue wants to open juvenile records to supervising probation officers and make probation information available to law enforcement. She also wants to require all offenders on probation to submit to warrantless searches.

Perdue downplays complaints from those who worry the searches might violate individual rights.

"I'm not trying to be especially heinous or harsh, but my priority as the new governor of North Carolina has to be the safety of the general public," she said.

In conjunction with her announcement, the state, also on Friday, launched a new Web site providing listings of the nearly 14,000 people on probation whose whereabouts are unknown.

"This Web site will enable the citizenry of the state of North Carolina to act as a posse to help us find these people who are supposed to be under supervision," said state House Minority Leader Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake.

Republicans applauded Perdue Friday for backing some of their proposals, such as the Web site, and say change is needed. They don't want new taxes to pay for it, though.

"This is cheaper than the alternative, which is to put them in prison and pay a lot more," Stam said.

Problems with the state's probation system came to light last year 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.

Demario James Atwater, 22, and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr, 18 – both suspects in Carson's death – were on probation at the time of the crimes. Lovette is also charged in Mahato's death.

Records show that probation officers tried to make contact with Atwater once in more than two years. Lovette's two arrests while on probation also went undetected.

Reviews of the system – both internally and by the National Institute of Corrections – found that inadequate staffing, high turnover rates, case reassignments and lack of training led to deficiencies in the suspects' supervision.

Probation officers also had no central system for communicating with other law enforcement and judicial agencies, and no system notified them when their clients violated probation.

An alert system now notifies probation officers if someone assigned to them is arrested, and $2.5 million from the General Assembly will hire 29 new probation officers, including nine in Wake County.

Some officers will be trained to handle a variety of cases – a capability that earn them a higher starting salary.


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  • woodrowboyd2 Mar 13, 2009

    iv never seen a cop go alone to a house where there is a known danger to him and the public
    are you blowing hot air to make you look good
    most of the time two or more cars are there

  • 1carpe Mar 13, 2009

    Thanks to the many in Probation for the job they do. We are in the middle of a budget crunch brought on through mis-management starting with our legislature, Govenor, and high level positions in the state. I really do not believe, as bad as they need it, is the time to be increasing budgets and saleries in any department in state government. Purdue has already started the raid on the rainy day fund and will raid it again. Cost a lot of money to respond to a hurricane...but then again, we won't get hit this year because Bush is not around to blame it on.

  • OneofUs Mar 13, 2009

    FogHat-Probabtion officers suddenly showing up unannounced w/o police escort to the homes of these felons would be extremely dangerous.

    It's what we do, and yes, it's dangerous, but I think I speak for a lot of my coworkers when I say it is well worth it, to get some of these people off the streets and out of our neighborhoods, even though it takes a while.

    Starsheild-You are talking about months before any action is taken against the probationor. That is the problem with probation/parole.

    You are right, IF they don't run away first out of fear of being revoked. The wheels of justice grind their way along, and by the time we get to court to revoke THIS case of probation, chances are they've got a few more along the way.

    SoLow-you are right, we do have the right to warrantless search, on CERTAIN offenders. This is an important "give/take" relationship between us the the Police Dept/Sheriff's Office, when we all work together.

  • OneofUs Mar 13, 2009

    CopsEye, you said "POs have a dangerouse job going to houses of gang members..guess what Cops do it everyday. Train them better we go by ourselves or with one other person, whenever I see Probation go to a house to arrest someone there is 4 or five and they still call us. They have a gun and a badge use it."

    As a Probation Officer all I have to say is this. The state statute says that I can do my job and not "need" the police/sheriff's department if I discover things that lead to additional/new CRIMINAL charges against my probationer. Departmental Policy says I need you. Trust me, I and my coworkers do what we can on our own, without distrupting anyone else. We are well qualified for what we do, however I've yet to hear a Police Officer complain about us doing the search/dirty work and just handing them a free arrest! Don't make this a COPS vs. PO's debate,we are all in this together. Yes we have a badge and a gun, and like you we try to exhaust all other options before deadly force

  • alwayslovingu30 Mar 13, 2009

    Wow it doesnt take all that darn money to restructure the probation dept.It has been screwed up for over17 years.Its not rocket science.The problem is the probation officers dont care they dont push the offenders to pay restuition or keep up with them.All we need is A good sit down talk with what we have.If you cant do the job you need to move.Brian Ziverink is 1 of the worst probation officer in wake county.I had A judgment against an guy to pay restuition of 400.00.Brian didnt push unless I pushed him.It took 3 years to get it.The boy had no drivers license.no insurance hit an run me.He got probation an has to pay me $400.00 took 3 years an it didnt even cover the cars repairs on my car.The judge said it would be to much hardship to put on the guy if he made him pay more crooked politice.judges/Probation officers.I telling the truth infect it

  • Corvus Mar 13, 2009

    COPs eye - "POs have a dangerouse job going to houses of gang members..guess what Cops do it everyday. Train them better we go by ourselves or with one other person, whenever I see Probation go to a house to arrest someone there is 4 or five and they still call us. They have a gun and a badge use it."

    We are required by are SUPERVISORS to get law enforcement to go with us anytime we leave our county. You must not have read the articles in the News and Observer about some of our JDMs and Supervisors. Yes we have a gun and badge, but the higher ups will not let us do our job. I hate having to call local LEOs every time I go looking for an absconder that might be here or might be there. I feel like I am wasting their time and mine if the absconder is not there.

  • Corvus Mar 13, 2009

    My3centsworth - "Get the Probation Officers off their rear ends in an office and mandate them to make a face-to-face contact with their probationer in the field, both on and off the job and day and night, no appointments, just show up unannounced."

    I am a Surveillance officer and I go to the houses and jobs of these "NICE PEOPLE" that are on probation. They do not know what day or time I am coming by. I do not get home until after 11:00PM or later. When they mess up, we arrest them and try to get them revoked. However, even if they are revoked, chances are they will be put back on probation when the get a new charge. I have seen people get put on probation for their 10th, 11th, 12th time. How many chances does a person get?

  • getrealpeople Mar 13, 2009

    Can someone remind Bev that the State has a 2 billion $$$ deficit. The taxes are coming soon. gotta impress the people with spending.

  • ONEHARDHEAD Mar 13, 2009

    jljtheraven, I post here and claim to be neither Democrat nor Republican. I don't know if I would be called a conservative either, just an American. I do, however, have several ideas for making things better in our state. Whatever happened to right and wrong, and whatever happened to living within your means? Don't get me wrong- I will be the first to say that there are probably issues that need to be addressed in our probations area. I DON'T, however, think that throwing out a dollar figure will make a difference in anything except the state's budget shortfall. REAL reform starts with a mindset, not funding. Holding existing personnel RESPONSIBLE for executing their jobs well costs the taxpayers nothing extra, jet could pay off in spades. We need someone outside of the existing, corrupt system of government to come in with common-sense ideas for REAL reform.

  • pbjbeach Mar 13, 2009

    I am in total aqgreement with a lot of the post on here state employees state wide are not allowed by upper mangament to acrually do the jobs that they are hired to do for the fear that if they were to actually to their job as stated in the state personnel manuals as to what their jobs are suppose to be for the fear in negeatively impacting some business entiy thank you