Changes to probation system underway

August 19, 2008 5:50:07 PM PDT
Major changes are underway in Raleigh and Durham County probation offices.

The changes come months after the murders of two area college students forced officials to take a look at probation violators.

The first of several staff changes to fix the N.C. Department of Correction's troubled probation system is laid out in black and white.

From resignation to early retirement, state probation managers in Wake and Durham counties are on the move.

The shake up was in the works for month, following the murders of a Duke University graduate student and a UNC senior.

An internal investigation found that Demario Atwater and Laurence Lovette, Jr. had repeatedly violated their probations. Lovette is charged in both murders.

The problem went unchecked, their probation officers resigned and other disciplinary action was taken, according to the director.

"I cannot sit here and tell you that serious crimes will not occur," N.C DOC Director Robert Guy said. "They do and they will. My job is to make sure we have a quality staff and resources to do the best job we can."

The state asked the NIC to review the department and suggest changes and now a draft of the NIC report has been released. It says the state needs to update its training guide for probation officers and change the handling of caseloads across the state.

The NIC also recommends more than 20 changes, overall, but it says workers failed to execute policy when it came to Atwater and Lovette and that there was ineffective management oversight at every level of the DOC.

A Wake County probation manager was reassigned last month to a state prisons position, at least two probation managers will relocate to other offices, and Durham County's probation team will get additional managers to better handle its caseload.


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