Perdue pledges millions to reform probation

March 13, 2009 11:50:04 AM PDT
More changes are on the way for the state's troubled probation system.Governor Beverly Perdue unveiled several reforms at a special news conference in Asheville Friday.

More staffing and more funding are just some of the changes Perdue said she would make.

During her talk with reporters, the Governor said North Carolinians expect to be safe. She promised to spend millions of federal and state dollars on new probation officers and io implement pay raises for employee retention.

Some of those Department of Corrections workers attended the news conference.

"You all have my commitment that I'm going to continue to do this as long as I'm governor," Perdue said. "When I talked to one of you about your caseload, it was appalling to me that someone thought all of you could do all that."

The reforms come a little more than a year after the murders of two Triangle area college students. Duke's Abhijit Mahato and UNC's Eve Carson were killed by suspects who allegedly had violated their probations long before the state realized it.

The arrests of Demario Atwater and Lawrence Lovette, Jr. forced the state to examine how long it takes for parole officers to learn an offender has violated the law.

Both of the suspects were charged in the death of Eve Carson.

As a part of her committment to better communication, Perdue would like every officer to have a laptop.

"I'm trying to see what recovery funds might be available for one-time technology purchases," Perdue said. "We know we still have weak links. This is not the end all and be all."

Correction officials say there is a new alert system and soon the state will be connected to a federal criminal information system.

"We feel like that can happen in the next couple of months," said Jennie Lancaster, NC DOC. "That we'll be able to give real-time information to that officer on the street to stop someone and they're on probation to let them know that.

Those are improvements Perdue admits are long overdue.

"I feel personally responsible for the horrible things that happen to people on my watch, quite frankly, and I'm doing everything I can do within the law and I'm trying to change the laws," Perdue said. "I have to be sure people are safe."

Perdue said she also wants public involvement. She's encouraging North Carolinians to visit her Website whey they can soon find a complete list of missing probationers, along with their pictures.

You can visit the Governor's Website by logging on to www.governor.state.nc.us.


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