State News

Probation chief out as Perdue names three to cabinet

Posted January 2, 2009 8:51 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:11 p.m. EDT

— Eight days before her inauguration, Governor-elect Beverly Perdue on Friday filled three public safety positions in her new cabinet.

Perdue named Reuben Young as secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, retired Marine Col. Alvin Keller Jr. as secretary of the Department of Correction and Linda Wheeler Hayes as secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Perdue spokesman David Kochman also said Robert Guy, director of the Division of Community Corrections for the past 11 years, "will not be coming back" in the new administration. Kochman declined to say whether Guy resigned or was asked to leave.

In an interview with WRAL News two weeks ago, Guy said the change in administrations left him unsure of his future.

"I feel like I have a lot to contribute. At the same time, that's the business," he said.

The Division of Community Corrections came under fire last year following the slayings of Eve Carson, the student body president at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato. One suspect who is charged in both deaths and a second suspect who is accused in Carson's death were on probation at the time of the two killings, but their probation officers failed to keep close tabs on them.

“The failed leadership of the past cannot lead us into the future,” Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown said Friday. “So that’s the good news that he’s (Guy) gone.”

Guy has acknowledged his department made mistakes, but he said decisions by judges, limited funding and state laws often hindered the department's efforts.

"It is what it is where we are today, and so my point is start now and move forward," Perdue said in announcing Keller's appointment.

An assistant attorney general who previously served as a chief circuit military judge for the Navy and Marines, Keller said he wants more cases of rehabilitation with fewer cases of repeat offenders.

"People being placed on probation will have to understand there are adverse consequences for not following the condition of their paroles," he said.

Young has served as chief legal counsel to outgoing Gov. Mike Easley and previously was an assistant attorney general in both North Carolina and Texas.

Like Keller, Young assumes command of a troubled department. The state Highway Patrol has had a number of disciplinary cases involving troopers accused of profiling women for traffic stops, driving drunk, having sex on duty and abusing animals.

"I wanted somebody with courage not to just accept the status quo but to shake things up," Perdue said.

A statewide group representing more than 500 troopers said though Young is highly competent, they aren't convinced he represents the reform the agency needs.

"I know the department and the people who work there," Young said.

“Mr. Young has worked with the Highway Patrol in the past and is well respected in the law enforcement community. We look forward to working with him again,” N.C. State Highway Patrol Commander Col. Walter J. Wilson Jr. said in a statement Friday.

Hayes is chairwoman of the Governor's Crime Commission, overseeing federal grants for victims programs, information technology, drug control and substance abuse and juvenile justice, and she chairs the Southern region of the National Coalition of Juvenile Justice Advisory Groups.

Perdue also said retired Army Maj. Gen. Gerald Rudisill Jr. would remain as chief deputy of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety and named Jennie Lou Lancaster as chief operating officer of the Department of Correction. Lancaster is a department veteran who retired in 2004 and has since been a trainer for the National Institute of Corrections.

She gave each appointee an order to report back in 60 days with the five most pressing problems facing his or her agency, adding that she has zero tolerance for surprises.

At least five members of Easley's cabinet don't plan on working for Perdue, including the secretaries of administration, commerce, correction, juvenile justice and health and human services.