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Auditor finds conflicts on NC teen crime councils

RALEIGH (AP) ó There are conflicts of interests on county councils that distribute funds designed to keep teens out of trouble because sometimes members operate programs that receive the money and evaluate their effectiveness, according to a state audit released Tuesday.
State Auditor Les Merrittís office recommended that the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention bar directors or managers of programs from serving on a Juvenile Crime Prevention Council in the county the program serves.
The performance audit found no abuses of these relationships but said conflict rules should be improved because it ěcreates the potential for abuse and inequityî because certain members can influence sending money to their own programs.
The councils, found in each of the 100 counties, share $23 million annually to find local funds and in-kind contributions to help create local treatment and counseling programs for at-risk youth or those already involved in criminal activity.
Auditors determined that 14 of the county councils had as members directors or managers of programs that receive funds distributed by the council. These members represented about 17 of the 499 programs funded through the councils during the 2006-07 fiscal year.
Of the 17, six received more than half of the total funds allocated in each particular county. In Pamlico County, the StillWaters counseling program received 88 percent of the $67,497 allocated by the council, the report said.
In its response released with the audit, the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention said small rural counties such as Pamlico have few public or nonprofit agencies to provide services.
The department wrote it would work with county commissioners, who appoint council members, to minimize conflicts. But council members who remain if juvenile program leaders are barred, such as police officers or judges, likely would have their outside work affected by which programs get funded, too, the response said.
The performance audit also found that the department needs to better monitor council-level programs and provide more training for programs to track clients.

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