One after another, the mistakes mounted in the probation offices handling the cases of the men charged with murdering University of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson, says the Raleigh News & Observer. Demario Atwater, 21, had not received as much as a phone call from his probation officer for more than a year. Laurence Alvin Lovette, 17, had a probation officer who, after seven months on the job, still had not received basic training or met the teenager. The mistakes were so egregious that Robert Guy, the man in charge of the state’s probation system, reassigned the three managers in the Wake County probation office. “It’s a flat-out embarrassment,” Guy said.
Atwater, a felon on probation, was passed from officer to officer — 10 officers and supervisors in three years. Not one, Guy said, realized that a curfew, weekly meetings and nighttime checks should have been imposed. Even worse, Guy said, probation officers lost track of the offender for more than a year. In 2004, the National Institute of Corrections was called in by the state legislature to study the probation system. The outside consultants found that equipment was antiquated, probation officers were underpaid, caseloads in some regions were high, officers were discouraged from trying to revoke probation, and vacancies stayed open too long. Despite reform attempts, probation offices still grapple with heavy caseloads, high turnover, an information disconnect between the adult and juvenile courts, and archaic communications systems.