Major changes in Probation system are approved in North Carolina

The NC General Assembly gave final approval to overhaul the probation system following the murder of University of North Carolina student president Eve Carson, Cherokee County serial killer Patrick Burris who killed five people in the Gaffney S.C. area and was on parole from North Carolina, and North Carolina parolee Jerry Case who is accused of kidnapping a whole family and shooting a Cherokee County deputy before he was arrested.

The NC Senate agreed unanimously to NC House changes to the bill and sent the measure to Gov. Beverly Perdue, who had requested these changes earlier this year. The bill would allow probation officers access to an offender's juvenile records without a court order and allow warrantless searches as a regular condition of probation. The two men charged with Eve Carson's killing were also on probation at the time of her death. Lawmakers previously approved legislation allowing low risk persons on probation to go unsupervised, which lessened the caseload of probation officers. The budget bill will also include more money for probation officer salaries.,0,6811284.story

Gov. Beverly Perdue said changes to how North Carolina tracks probationers and parolees will show the state means business with keeping them out of further trouble.

Perdue signed into law Thursday a bill that allows probation officers access to an offender's juvenile records without a court order and permits warrantless searches as a regular condition of probation. The Legislature gave the bill final approval late Wednesday.

For a more detailed look at the legislation and what it contains, please read below.

These reforms include the following changes:
· The Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission will respond to requests for warrants within 24 hours;
· Probation officers will receive a response to a violation report within that same 24 hours;
· If a warrant is issued it will be entered into the DCI network immediately; and
· Law enforcement officers across North Carolina will have immediate access to information about probationers and prison inmates on their vehicle computers whenever a license check is conducted.

In addition, the governor signed Senate Bill 920, her proposal to:
· Allow probation officers the authority to perform warrantless searches on supervised probationers;
· Give law enforcement officers the ability to perform warrantless searches if they have reasonable suspicion that the probationer is engaged in criminal activity or possesses a weapon without written court permission;
· Allow probation officers limited access to juvenile criminal records, providing them with better insight into the risks offenders pose;

“With these changes, law enforcement and probation officers will have immediate access to probation information and will be better prepared to protect themselves and their communities,” Perdue said. “These reforms will strengthen our probation system and make our communities safer.”

Sounds sensible to me.