Perdue announces probation changes

RALEIGH Currently, there are 12,000 people on probation in North Carolina who are not accounted for.

Wednesday night the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 920, part of a probation reform package Gov. Bev Perdue proposed on March 13. The legislation should help to begin the process of fixing the state's broken system.

Governor Bev Perdue has pushed for reform since she took office in January. She announced some of the changes Thursday. They're expected to speed the process of getting warrants for parole violators and help get more information to law enforcement officers on the streets.

The changes include:

  • The Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission will respond to requests for warrants within 24 hours;
  • Probation officers will receive a response to a violation report within that same 24 hours;
  • If a warrant is issued it will be entered into the DCI network immediately; and
  • Law enforcement officers across North Carolina will have immediate access to information about probationers and prison inmates on their vehicle computers whenever a license check is conducted.

In addition, the governor signed Senate Bill 920, her proposal to:

  • Allow probation officers the authority to perform warrantless searches on supervised probationers;
  • Give law enforcement officers the ability to perform warrantless searches if they have reasonable suspicion that the probationer is engaged in criminal activity or possesses a weapon without written court permission;
  • Allow probation officers limited access to juvenile criminal records, providing them with better insight into the risks offenders pose;

“With these changes, law enforcement and probation officers will have immediate access to probation information and will be better prepared to protect themselves and their communities,” Perdue said. “These reforms will strengthen our probation system and make our communities safer.”

It was Carson's death in March 2008 that brought to light glaring problems in the state's probation system. Both men charged in the murder, Demario Atwater and Lawrence Lovette, Jr., were on probation at the time of the killing.

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