• 43°

Editorial: Time to fix probation

In the weeks since Laurence A. Lovette Jr. and Demario J. Atwater were charged with the murder of UNC student Eve Carson, we have learned much about the N.C. Department of Correction’s probation division. Unfortunately, a lot of what we now know isn’t very comforting.
It’s clear to anyone who has followed the story that parts of the state’s probation system are badly broken. On April 11, representatives of the probation division told members of Durham’s Crime Cabinet that many of the division’s problems stem from a high staff turnover rate and too few juvenile counselors. Other troubles are the result of mishandling juvenile offenders and poor oversight.
Robert Guy, director of the state’s probation division, acknowledged that Atwater’s probation was bungled. He said internal checks and balances to ensure Atwater was properly supervised were not followed. That’s unacceptable, and it should not have to take a senseless murder to highlight these systemic shortcomings.
Guy also said audits of probation offices here in Durham and Wake County, both of which were at one time responsible for managing Atwater’s case, will be shared with Gov. Mike Easley and state Secretary for Correction Theodis Beck. Let’s hope a recommendation spills forth to ensure frequent audits of all probation offices so shortcomings are more quickly identified.
Complaints about staff shortages are legitimate. In the Durham probation office, only 55 of the 71 authorized positions are filled. The 16 vacancies mean many probation staffers are pulling extra heavy loads. Statewide, 2,000 certified probation officers are expected to keep track of 125,000 offenders. You do the math.
And the tough demands of the job, coupled with low pay ó starting pay for the lowest-ranking probation officers is $31,696, which is among the lowest amount for a state job requiring a college degree ó fuels an extraordinarily high turnover rate. Since 2005, 62 employees have reportedly left the Durham probation office.
We’re also troubled by Durham’s chief court counselor Donald Pinchback’s contention that he is operating with six to eight fewer juvenile counselors than he needs. If Pinchback’s accounting is correct, it’s hard to imagine his staff keeping up with its workload.
It’s unfortunate, but the truth is that for many years now juvenile crime has been a growth industry. The state can’t continue to expect good results from its probation division without giving it the resources it needs. In the meantime, probation officials have to get better at making sure dangerous criminals don’t slip through the cracks.
ó The Herald Sun
Durham

Comments

Comments closed.

News

Defendant convicted in attempted murder case on the run after fleeing from trial

Business

Downtown Gateway Building to be renamed for late Paul Fisher

Coronavirus

Rowan County COVID-19 data for April 15

Local

Rep. Warren’s bill would prohibit parking in electric vehicle charging stations

Local

Historic Preservation Commission approves Integro Technologies expansion, Paint the Pavement project

Education

Faith Academy, RSS will negotiate over what goes, stays in elementary school

Crime

Teacher killed in Alamance County shootout with Mexican drug cartel

Coronavirus

Bill would give more tax breaks on COVID-19 loans

Nation/World

No response as divers knock on capsized ship’s hull

Local

Quotes of the week

Crime

Blotter: Man found on church property with litany of drugs

Crime

Man charged in connection to 2019 overdose death

Business

‘It’s our big time’: Salisbury Farmers Market reopens Saturday

Education

Schools capital funding still frozen as RSS sends local budget to county

Business

Shields, Cheerwine Festival receive N.C. Main Street Awards

Kannapolis

Duke University launches kidney disease study in Kannapolis for people of African descent

Education

Horizons Unlimited will hold in-person summer camps

Education

Education briefs: Catawba planning for more in-person activities, free summer school tuition

Coronavirus

County’s full COVID-19 vaccinations top 22,600

High School

High school golf: With Merrell, Mustangs back on top

Local

Spencer investigating rat problem on South Iredell Street

News

Livingstone, Mission House Church to host national ‘Black Voters Matter’ listening session

Education

Shoutouts

Business

Groundbreaking on Pennant Square signals next phase in downtown Kannapolis revitalization