Monday January 12 | The Probation Problem

January 9, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Coming Up | 1 Comment

North Carolina’s probation system seems to be broken. Officials are losing track of offenders on probation, who go on to allegedly commit new crimes, some of them deadly. Since the year 2000, 580 offenders charged with murder or manslaughter committed the crime while on probation. We’ll find out why the state has been slow to respond to the problem.
Sarah Ovaska – Staff Reporter for Wake County Courts, Raleigh News & Observer

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  1. I wonder what listener numbers looked like today. The subject, generated by the Raleigh N&O, and murders by probationers, enjoyed a tinge of sensationalism, like local news, but required some attention and reflection. How to solve this problem? And how to lure listeners’ attention to real details affecting their lives?

    One clue came when a retired federal probation officer called in. Tom described how a spoils system has historically crippled the NC parole and probation department. It was nearly impossible to get the best people hired. Earlier a woman had complained about county social workers not serving clients. She sat in an office most of the day in support of an applicant. She asked if the probation officers in NC were also slackers. Mike perceptively inquired about the availability of modern technology and Sarah Ovaska, the newspaper reporter, described ride-alongs and other interactions with the probation officers. The office was chaotic, she said.

    This is my take, only partially derived from the show. North Carolina continues to suffer from a spoils system. Getting a government job can still be like a knighthood. With a title, who needs technology? I myself have observed three conditions of bureaucratic employment. (I have worked for the federal government and local government in two states.) 1.Political royalty-similar to a “no work job” under mafia coercion
    2.Fair haired stepchild-half-assed work with implied political duties 3.Ditchdigger- a qualified employee who is expected to turn out the work of 3 or 4 employees without the needed record-keeping or communications technology Naturally, ditchdiggers are at lower pay and title. If they had the discretionary income to buy one they’d likely not put probationers on their Blackberry roster. This is true to some extent in every governmental department and branch. It will not change until the social structure of the greater society changes. (I have served as a fair-haired stepchild and have failed to “keep up” as a ditchdigger.)

    Government mimiics capitalist business, though it shouldn’t. Politicians don’t realize what they promise when they say ,”I’ll run government like a business.” Look at the disproportionate salaries at the top, and the way profits are extracted, along with the mistreatment of the environment. Would you want that kind of government? The perversion of the concept “human resources” may be the only thing government handles more poorly than business. At the bottom you have to admit that government in the USA is more capitalist than democratic. Think about that the next time a probationer murders you.

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