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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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a comment

We hear quiet often the phrase that "probation officers are underpaid and overworked" yet not even a year has gone by since this murder and we are already being advised the dept of corrections face a salary decrease of 10% or more and a freeze on new positions or higher caseload numbers pushing community officer to handle over 100 offenders!. Folks,you can't have it both ways-either keep good officers and pay them a decent salary and keep their caseloads low or else face more chaos and tragedy-Anyone who tells you that they can continue to make cuts and provide quality supervision is being more than a little dishonest-history simple does not support that opinion.So please lets not say out of one side of our mouth "probation officers are underpaid and overworked" and with the other side say "We believe these cuts are sensible and will allow us to still maintain quality supervision and accountability of the offender".It is time stop pointing fingers on one hand at officers and their management and with the other hand take away the resources they need to keep good experienced officers in the field with caseloads they can manage.

In your story you said that

In your story you said that there were 10 jobs to be filled, but now the question... is there money to pay for the 10 jobs.... I know a few people with degrees in criminal justice and social work that have applied... They were told the funding wasn't there...


Stop putting so many on probation.If only so many probation officers are available use that as a bases for how many get probation.

Not much choice

Judges generally don't have much latitude in their sentencing. NC's Structured Sentencing laws combines the seriousness of the charge with the defendants' prior record and pretty much dictates what type of sentence the judge must hand down.

State Politics

The State regularly freezes vacant positions even those these positions are needed to do the job empowered to do. It is the management of the State that causes these problems. They expect employees to do more with less without any compensation for work over and above their regular duties. Politcs is what runs all State agencies. Politics is what should get the blame not the poor employee who has not been trained, not supported and left to fend on his or her own. When taxpayers demand that the services they pay taxes for be done then will you get the services completed. But when the State freezes positions, pays low salaries then not only can they not recruit new employees they cannot keep what they have. The Prison system faces the same problems. There is not one facility fully manned. There is a shortage of Correctional Officers, Probation and Parole Officers but the State fails to do anything about it which results in innocent citizens being killed. Plain and simple!

Not enough probation officers...

Let's make sure we keep the blame on the murders and not the system, okay. This probation officer DID NOT do the killing.

Wish I had a government job.

Wish I had a government job. Is this the Soviet Union?? Sure feels like it. Excuses, excuses.

World's Smallest Violin

Awwwwww.... I have 3100 individuals I have to technically support on my own and have never complained once.. How is that an excuse for someone on probation FAILING a drug test and then just being given a warning instead of being locked up? If I fail ONE drug test at my company, I would be escorted out of the corporate office and instantly terminated. The poor, poor criminals and the pitiful overworked probation officers who don't do anything until their clients are actually arested can continue to whine..... Let me break out my tiny, tiny violin and play a sad, sad song...


The point is that the officers have more cases than they can adequately supervise. This results in poor supervision. It's not exactly the officers' fault that the powers-that-be in Raleigh under-staff the local offices to save money. Most of them do the best they can with the limited resources provided by the State.

Average # of offenders

You can't really get much from saying that officers supervise an average of 74 offenders. The contacts required on some offenders is only every month or two. Higher risk offenders have to be seen twice a month, and those on intensive probation have multiple contacts each week. I was a probation officer in New Hanover County for four years. When I resigned, I was supervising approximately 90 high-risk offenders - the maximum caseload for that level of supervision was supposed to be 60. At that time, we were explicitly forbidden to work overtime unless it was an emergency situation. The state didn't want to pay us overtime for budgetary reasons. Now that there's been a well-publicized tragedy, I would bet the supervisors will be approving more overtime for officers to work their inflated caseloads.