North Carolina Department of Correction News - April 1999

JDM is no stranger to change

KINSTON — A lot has changed since Carla Bass first began working for the department in 1979 as a parole officer. Now in her new role as judicial district manager for district 8-A, Bass is prepared to help others adapt to the changes taking place as the Division of Community Corrections prepares to move into the next century.

Bass was promoted to JDM in July and said she feels fortunate to have been given the opportunities that she has to advance. Twenty years ago when she started out, Bass said there just weren’t many opportunities for advancement.

"Back when I was first hired, you were either an officer or you were a unit supervisor," she said. "If you wanted to be a unit supervisor, you had to wait for someone to either retire or quit."

Bass was one of the lucky ones whose hard work and determination paid off. Ten years after she started working as a parole officer, she was promoted to unit supervisor for a new DWI facility in Goldsboro.

In 1996 she was promoted again – this time to chief probation/parole officer for Lenoir and Greene counties. She remained in that position for two years before being promoted to JDM.

With all the opportunities she’s been given to advance, Bass said she is excited about the division’s reorganization of officers into PPO Is and PPO IIs.

"The reorganization will create more opportunities for people to advance," she said. "Now officers start out as a PPO I where they will learn the basics and get some experience. They will have offender contact, but it will be in a more controlled setting. After three years, they can be promoted to PPO II where they will spend most of their time out in the field."

While the job reorganization has been a positive change for the division, Bass said she has witnessed other changes that have not been as positive, such as the change in offenders.

Bass said when she started out as a parole officer, she spent most of her time acting as a counselor to offenders, most of whom were alcohol abusers. She would help them find treatment and often counsel offenders on ways to improve their education. She said now officers spend only about half of their time working as counselors and half as law enforcement officers.

"Right about the time I was first promoted, the offenders really started to change," she said. "They are more violent now. When I was an officer, it was rare to have people who would not comply with the terms of their supervision. Now, cases where people really comply and do not experience problems are in the minority."

Considering this change in the offender population, Bass said she has been impressed with the efforts made by the division’s safety task force to provide officers with the tools they need to stay safe while doing their jobs.

"When I started, there wasn’t an officer in the state who was fire-arm certified," Bass said. "We just didn’t need to be. Now, that our role has shifted to public safety and our officers do most of their own arresting, they need to be protected. The safety task force has really gone to bat for us, making sure the officers have everything they need for safety such as safety vests and pepper spray."

Even though she is no longer required to go out into the field herself , Bass said she has every intention of doing so. Whether it’s learning how to enter offender information into OPUS or checking up on an offender, Bass said she wants to have experience doing it all.

"I want to go out in the field, because, as JDM, I don’t want to lose sight of what the officers in the field go through," she said. "I think it’s important, as JDM, to know a little about everyone’s job and what it’s like to do them. I really never ask anything of a staff member that I’m not willing to do myself."

Glenn Mills, chief of Judicial Division I, said this can-do attitude makes Bass an effective leader within DCC.

"Carla is a very dedicated and hard working employee," he said. "Her insight and knowledge of the Division of Community Correction’s strategy has and will continue to be a benefit to judicial district 8A and the Division of Community Corrections."

Bass graduated from East Carolina University in 1978 with a degree in social work. She decided to pursue a career with the department after completing an internship with probation/parole. She and her husband, Deryl, live in Greenville and have a 22-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter.

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