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Submitted 7:07 p.m.
08.04.2015
Letter to the Editor

Everyone is so excited about new research...but no one thinks about how it will actually be implemented.”

Jacob Ray of Boone, N.C.

I would first just like to note that I am currently (for the next two days anyways) a Probation/Parole Officer with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. I have taken another job in the same field so I feel that it would not be inappropriate to give a response from an experienced criminal justice professional.

I have studied and researched countless methodologies and tools and procedures that try to determine why people commit crimes, what factors lend to said acts, how to deter said acts, and what it all means.

First and foremost, I enjoyed the article. It was informative, especially to those not familiar with the intricacies of the criminal justice system. With that being said I do have some concerns. I understand full well that writing an article of this magnitude is not easy so take my words as constructive criticism.

While I appreciate the information gathered from statisticians and researchers and professors alike, what needs to be focused on with this article is not the tool per se but the implementation of the tool.

Probation/parole swings with the pendulum of criminal justice from law enforcement to rehabilitation every five years or so. At some point some researcher or professor will come along with new data that is innovative and revolutionary and the state will adopt it and PPOs will be required to change how they have done something for the last five to seven years.

The tool is only as good as its handler. PPOs who could care less about what they do or who they work with hand the offender a questionnaire, don’t explain its purpose, record the results (that are more than likely inaccurate) and then supervise the offender at an incorrect level.

A majority of PPOs, especially those with 10-15 years experience, are so stuck in the ways of probation from the ‘old days’ that they resist change. Others who try to understand the new tools are looked at with disdain, god forbid they actually use it.

My initial reasoning behind getting into probation was to help people. However, the reality is that the system from the ground up sets people up for failure. My caseload averages around 75 offenders with roughly five being success stories. The rest end up doing their suspended sentence, or for those that are on post release (parole is dead and gone, I wish people would understand that) they just go back to prison.

Prime example: I had an offender who was out on post-release for a period of nine months (as all post-release periods are). Any new charges or acts that are considered non-compliant are to be reported to the parole commission. So this offender gets charged with a new crime and is convicted. I contact the parole commission, let them know, and they in turn send me a post-release warrant which is served on the offender. At his preliminary hearing with a parole commission officer, he is revoked, meaning he more than likely with go back to prison and finish his nine months. However, within a week’s time, the parole board, who ultimately makes the final decision as the first is just preliminary, reinstates the offender. That offender is currently in custody for three new crime committed within a 10-day timeframe from that reinstatement.

People complain that our prisons are overcrowded (which they are), but there are certainly some people that need to be in prison.

Everyone is so excited about new research and this and that, but no one thinks about how it will actually be implemented. The communist manifesto looked great on paper but when they tried to implement it...well you know the rest.

 
These letters written in response to
Feature August 4, 2015
Should prison sentences be based on crimes that haven’t been committed yet?