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Probation officers overworked

WILMINGTON -- The probation officer in charge of monitoring Laurence Lovette -- the North Carolina teen accused of murdering two college students -- reportedly never met Lovette face-to-face. It's also been reported the officer was untrained and overworked. All local probation officers are required to go through four weeks of training. In New Hanover and Pender Counties there's a shortage of officers, and that's making it a challenge to keep a handle on the case loads. Here's a look at the numbers. In the fifth district, New Hanover and Pender Counties, there are more than 4,000 offenders on probation. There are 62 officers to monitor them. That means each officer is in charge of about 74 offenders. Judicial District Manager Jean Walker who oversees the probation officers says in almost every category of offender -- from intense cases to less serious crimes -- officers are well over their optimal case load. Walker said, "We do our very best to try and supervise these offenders, according to policies and procedures. It would be nice if our case loads were smaller so that could be done more effectively." So what's the solution? People who work in the criminal justice system say more funding would help increase pay to keep trained and experienced officers, as well as making prisons bigger to house more criminals as opposed to putting some on probation when they should be behind bars. District Attorney Ben David estimates two-thirds of the offenders placed on probation violate the law again. This was the case of Laurence Lovett and Demario Atwater, the two teens charged in the murder of Eve Carson.

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