Probation offenders concerned about system

December 18, 2008 5:27:25 PM PST
As North Carolina tries to fix its broken probation system, some offenders say they're getting lost in the shuffle.One man says his probation officer rarely checked in with him and nearly cost him a new job.

Thursday was Larry Ramey's last day in North Carolina. The Florida native would have moved more than a month ago; however, his probation transfer request was not signed in time.

The request would allow him to move to Virginia where a new job awaits. Ramey says he filed it back in October, but his probation officer didn't process it until today.

"I was just trying to get my family somewhere so I could go back to work and have a Christmas and Thanksgiving with my family, wife and kids. And this lady just made it so difficult for me and my wife that we sold off our furniture," Ramey said.

Without a job, Ramey says his family was nearly evicted and a local church had to pay his power bills.

Despite numerous requests to push the paperwork through, he says his probation officer was nowhere to be found.

"My probation officer, she hasn't drug tested me at all and it's been four months," Ramey said. "She's been to my house twice and it's been four months."

Ramey says not all probation officers drop the ball. He admits they are overworked, juggling huge caseloads.

"But for the defender who turned their life around, they don't deserve an officer like that," he said. "They're not supposed to be our friends, but they're not supposed to be our enemies either."

Ramey says his new job is still available. With the transfer finally in his hand, he's moving tonight.

"I'm going to go home. "We're going to pack, leave and just put Wake County behind us," he said.

The department of correction says Ramey's probation officer handles about 65 cases and that when it comes to home and office visits, she followed the rules.

Correction officials add it's not unusual for probation transfers to take up to 45 days.


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