November 13, 1996
RALEIGH - Offenders on probation need go no further than a Day Incarceration Center to get the help they need to become drug-free, educated and employed.
Under one roof, probation officers, mental health counselors, vocational and educational teachers and job placement providers offer the kind of accountability offenders need to stay out of trouble. "We are modifying behavior, not just monitoring it," said Intensive Probation Officer Van Freeman. "Each component is vital to success, because most of the people in my caseload could have been in prison."
The State Legislature passed the Criminal Justice Partnership Act in 1993 to provide judges community punishment options. Through grants administered by the Department of Correction, 81 counties are developing programs such as the one in Wake County.
"I know all the offenders are here getting their G.E. D., learning a trade and getting counseling. Having probationers in one location all day, we can be more vigilant in our drug testing," Freeman said. "We get some of the worst cases and knowing more about an individuals's behavior means we can act faster to put someone in jail or prison if necessary."
Freeman said the shared information of the groups working at the center helps him make decisions. "A counselor may see an offender who is disruptive in class as having potential to change and I will back off on the arrest. On the other hand, someone may be doing well on his tests, but ready to explode, and the counselor will alert me."
The director of the Wake County Day incarceration Center, Tom McLoughlin, has created an index of behavior which charts the programs the offenders are in and measures their progress.
|"Substance Abuse is the biggest obstacle these offenders face," McLoughlin said. "We fill the void of drinking or drugs with socially acceptable behavior and skills that will reduce the recidivism rate. We have strict standards of behavior. We expect them to stumble, but just once, then they learn not to fight the system."|
McLoughlin said they praise the offenders for the good things they do and explain why they are doing well. Many he said, have never been given that kind of praise.
Instructors from Wake Technical College offer G.E.D. training and teach vocational skills such as electrical wiring and air conditioning repair. Offenders pay the same $35 fee any Wake Technical College student would pay to attend classes.
McLoughlin said employers are knocking on their door asking when these fellows are going to be finished so they can hire them at $8 an hour. An offender who goes through 11 weeks of vocational training has as much skill as someone who has worked in a regular job for nine months or a year, he said.
|The only job Robert Washington had before learning refrigeration was working at fast food restaurants. At first he said he wasn't interested in learning about refrigeration but now he looks forward to getting a job in that field and supporting his new-born son.|
|Hyper-active Ken Derobbio, who was computer illiterate, learned about thermostats and solving mechanical problems through a computer program and classroom training. The only work this 17-year-old had before was breaking into houses. He now would like to own his own heating and air-conditioning business one day.|
Classes at Wake Day Incarceration Center start at 7:30 a.m. and run until 4 p.m. The center works with the local Employment Security Commission office to find jobs for the 28 offenders, male and female, from 4:00 on, to keep them busy and off the streets.
Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman praised the new program operated by Wake County Criminal Justice Partnership, Inc. saying, "Offenders who are given this intensive supervision combined with education and treatment are more likely never to see the inside of a prison cell. When they walk out the door sober, educated and employed, they walk out truly free men and women."
|Wake County Criminal Justice Partnership, Inc. (WCCJP) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in North
Carolina. In addition to operating the Wake County Day Incarceration Center, the corporation
administers the Drug Treatment Court and Pretrial Electronic House Arrest initiatives for the
10th Judicial District of North Carolina.|
For more information, contact Todd Edwards, the corporate CEO, at (919) 856-6296 or write Box 2834, Raleigh, N.C. 27602.
updated January 17, 1997