North Carolina Senate president pro tem Marc Basnight says the state’s probation system has “failed all of North Carolina,” reports the Raleigh News & Observer. Basnight and other state leaders said yesterday that the troubled probation system should be a top priority in the legislature and in the administration of Gov.-elect Beverly Perdue. The officials were responding to a series of articles in The News & Observer this week detailing the shortcomings: offenders ignored, arrest warrants unfiled, and job vacancies that lead to high caseloads for officers.
“The whole system is in need of repair,” Perdue said. “It puts life at risk. There is a disconnect that has to be fixed, and I’m going to fix it.” Perdue said she is concerned about probation officers swamped by huge caseloads. “We need to have enough staffing to allow good old-fashioned probation work,” she said. “Hard-nosed probation work, like drug testing, urinalysis, did you go to work today, I’ll put your body in jail if you misbehave.” The News & Observer reported that the probation system had lost track of nearly 14,000 criminals it is supposed to guide toward more productive lives. Since the start of 2000, 580 people have killed while under the watch of probation officers — 17 percent of convictions for intentional killings.