Sunday, December 7, 2008

Another Reason Why We Need A New Jail

Here is a good reason why we have so many people in prison and if we are going to let them out, we must invest in a quality probation system, not just “hope for the best, and use the money from prisons for another program.” We have to protect the citizens. The number responsibility of our government. This is a good example why a new jail is so important.
Probationers kill, state dawdles
North Carolina

Part 1:
Published: Dec 07, 2008 04:42 AM
Modified: Dec 07, 2008 04:44 AM
Probationers kill, state dawdles
Since the start of 2000, 580 offenders have killed while on probation. Probation officers, hamstrung by vacancies and a sloppy bureaucracy, can't locate nearly 14,000 criminals
Doris Durham holds a picture of her son, Jamel Jefferys, at the spot where he was shot and killed in Raleigh in 2006. One of the shooters, Michael Jones, was on probation but had received poor supervision from a Wake County probation officer.
Staff Photo by Jason Arthurs
The slayings of two college students earlier this year put the state's probation system under the microscope. Suspects accused of killing Eve Carson, the UNC-Chapel Hill student body president, and Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato received scant attention from probation officers after previous offenses. That led to calls for reform.
An internal audit and a review by the National Institute of Corrections found major problems, including missing files, cases being ignored and supervisors failing to quickly file arrest warrants for absconders.

Sarah Ovaska, Joseph Neff and David Raynor, Staff Writers Comment on this story
North Carolina's probation system, designed to help low-level offenders rebuild their lives and stay out of costly prisons, is risking public safety by neglecting or losing track of thousands of criminals.
The results can be deadly, a News & Observer investigation has found.
Since the start of 2000, 580 people have killed in North Carolina while under the watch of state probation officers -- 17 percent of all convictions for intentional killings.
Documents and interviews indicate that probation officers -- poorly paid, overworked, some inexperienced -- routinely lose contact with the people they are required to supervise and guide toward more productive lives. Probation leaders have failed to take advantage of technology advances, for years leaving their officers with no automatic tracking of the people under their supervision. Officers often weren't aware when probationers were arrested on new charges.
State probation managers disregarded warnings -- and periodic cries for help from understaffed county offices.
It's unclear how many of the 580 killers were poorly supervised, because correction leaders wouldn't release records of thousands of probationers who committed serious crimes.
They did release partial records in 24 cases; The N&O found that probation officials had botched many of them. They failed basic tasks such as filing arrest warrants or hooking offenders to electronic house arrest. They ignored some probationers for more than a year.
That prevented offenders' early missteps from being met with the "swift and certain response" required by the N.C. Division of Community Corrections.
The response to Michael C. Jones was neither swift nor certain.
In March 2006, Jones' Wake County probation officer hadn't talked to the 19-year-old Bloods gang member in four months. A Superior Court judge ordered his arrest for skipping out on his probation, but probation officers never made the warrant available to police who could have jailed Jones.
Soon after, Jones and several other gang members assaulted Jamel Jefferys with a volley of bullets. Jefferys, a 19-year-old Southeast Raleigh teenager with plans to join the U.S. Army, was mistaken by his assailants as a rival gang member and died from multiple gunshots. One was a bullet fired into his head from a rifle used by Jones, also known as "Hitman."
Jefferys' murder came two months after Jones' probation officer took out the arrest warrant. But the officer didn't send it to a state clearinghouse that links with national crime databases. Had it been filed, any officer who encountered Jones would have known to hold him, including Raleigh police who twice arrested him in the months before Jefferys' death.
After Jones was charged with murder, his probation officer failed to fill out the mandatory report to alert supervisors and trigger an audit. That omission was common, occurring in 30 percent of all killings by probationers since 2003.
"They should have been on the job more," said Tyasha Jefferys, Jamel's older sister. "He [Jones] would have been arrested, and the murder wouldn't have happened."
It has happened more than nearly anyone realized, even after the highly publicized killings of UNC-Chapel Hill student body president Eve Carson and Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato. The men accused in their killings had received scant attention from probation officers in Wake and Durham counties, but state officials initially said the cases of lax oversight were unusual.
They were not.
Jones, now serving a life sentence, had consistently run into problems with the law and ignored the terms of his probation. Probation officers waited three months to place Eric Revels of Durham under house arrest, enough time for him to be charged with murder. John H. Robinson of Rockingham County shot a friend to death in a late-night argument after skipping out on weekends in jail and racking up new convictions. More on this story at

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