North Carolina Department of Correction news release

December 15, 1998

Sentencing Commission Chairman praises state probation officers

Robert Guy, director
Division of Community Corrections

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Guy 2 :25 seconds .wav

Tom Ross, chairman
Sentencing Commission

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Director Guy speaks
to Sentencing Commission

The efforts of state probation managers to increase control over probationers and respond to the changing demands on community corrections were praised by the State Sentencing Commission chairman at the commission’s December meeting in Raleigh.

"I think what is going on with the Division of Community Corrections is fantastic. It reflects thought and care to devise a plan that will enable us to supervise closely those offenders that need to be supervised and to use our resources in the most effective way we can," said Superior Court Judge Tom Ross, chairman of the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission. "It fits perfectly with the goals of structured sentencing that the legislature has adopted. It’s good policy and I’m just thrilled that they are moving in that direction."

Division of Community Corrections Director Robert Lee Guy talked with commissioners about the changes brought by structured sentencing and plans to further strengthen probation. Under Structured Sentencing, judges use a grid that provide a sentence of prison, intermediate sanction or probation based on the offender’s crime and criminal history. The sentencing plan increases the number of probationers sent into intermediate sanctions.

"The Sentencing Commission has done an outstanding job of enacting good, sound public policy in their sentencing legislation. Now it is up to the Division of Community Corrections to see that the policy is put into practice through good sound case management of offenders," Guy said. "One of the initiatives we have in place is having specialized, well trained, intermediate punishment probation officers that will deal with the higher risk, higher need offender on a much more frequent and daily basis by controlling their movements and re-enforcing treatment initiatives."

Guy told the Sentencing Commission his division has created three probation officer classes: intensive, intermediate punishment and community punishment officers. He said new intermediate punishment officers will supervise probationers in intermediate sanctions such as day reporting centers, house arrest, IMPACT or split sentences. In the next year, more than 500 current probation officers will receive additional training for these jobs that will require them to work night and weekend shifts supervising intermediate punishment offenders.

Guy said the reallocation of staff would unchain 500 more officers from the desk and put them to work in the community where they can best supervise smaller caseloads of intermediate probationers, some of the most serious offenders structured sentencing places in community supervision.

The jobs of the other two classes of probation officers will remain unchanged. Intensive probation teams will continue to supervise probationers placed on intensive supervision, the most restrictive intermediate sanction. The teams pair an intensive officer and surveillance officer who have frequent contact with offenders at their homes and jobs and use curfews, drug tests and mandatory attendance at school, work or treatment to closely supervise probationers. Community punishment officers will manage offenders sentenced to traditional probation supervision.

"We are changing the way probation officers do business. Our primary focus is on getting the officers back to the streets, working in the communities, working with community leaders and being visible in the community," Guy said. "Structured Sentencing targets a higher risk, higher need offender to community punishments. Probation officers will control the offender and coordinate a team of treatment providers, school officials and law enforcement officers to ensure that the offender is successful in the community."

Probation officers have worked to build ties with important community agencies. In the school partnership program, probation officers work with high school officials to make sure teen probationers behave in school and keep up their studies. Probation officers are working with law enforcement in community policing initiatives. Other officers closely supervise probationers who have completed the IMPACT boot camp. Probation officers are also learning special skills and developing programs that will help in the supervision of probationers sentenced for domestic violence or sex offenses.

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