NC Senator Phil Berger held a press conference in the Press Room today, and you can listen to it here:
Below is information released in conjunction with the Press Conference addressing the probation mess in North Carolina:
Senator Eddie Goodall, Republican Joint Caucus Leader
1414 Legislative Building – –
JOINT CAUCUS PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 10, 2009
REPUBLICANS TO DEMOCRATS: CLEAN UP PROBATION MESS
New Legislation, Action Needed
The Raleigh News and Observer’s series (http://www.newsobserver.com/probation/) highlighting the many problems plaguing North Carolina’s probation system helped focus attention on thousands of missing criminals, a bloated and broken bureaucracy, and the resulting harm to North Carolina’s people. The most disturbing revelation was that nearly 600 people were killed by convicted criminals at a time when these criminals were being supervised by the state’s probation system. It was also revealed that the state has lost track of approximately 14,000 criminals on probation. Little has been done to deal with these public safety tragedies. Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Republican Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake) today discussed the troubled probation system at a press conference and issued a call to action.
To provide an additional measure of protection for the public, Senator Berger will file a bill in the North Carolina Senate this week that allows all sworn probation and law enforcement officers to conduct warrantless searches of convicted criminals as a condition of probation.
In order to help find the convicted criminals “lost” by the probation system, Republican leaders called on Governor Perdue to immediately provide the public with information about the “lost” criminals by requiring the name, photograph, and last known whereabouts of missing probationers be listed on the state Web site. Republican leaders also asked Governor Perdue to provide for weekly update briefings on progress – or lack of progress - in locating these missing criminals. Berger and Stam today sent a letter to Governor Perdue outlining the bill being introduced and requesting action to find the missing probationers.
Senator Berger (R-Rockingham) made the following statement:
“A primary obligation of government is to protect its citizens. For too long, Democrats, in complete control of ’s state government, have failed to protect the people of North Carolina from convicted criminals. Hundreds of lives have been lost as a result of this mismanagement and incompetence. Unless immediate and effective action is taken, additional innocent lives are at risk.”
The text of the letter sent to Governor Perdue today follows this release.
February 10, 2009
The Honorable Bev Perdue
Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh , NC 27699-0301
Dear Governor Perdue,
As you know, North Carolina ’s probation system has failed to protect North Carolina ’s citizens. News reports indicate that hundreds of murders have been committed by convicted criminals on probation and that nearly 14,000 convicted criminals, placed on probation, have evaded supervision. This risks the safety of all North Carolinians ; additional tools are needed by our law enforcement community to protect our people and new procedures, employing available technology, must be utilized.
A bill Senator Berger filed today would provide for warrantless searches by probation and law enforcement officers as a condition of all probations. We encourage you to support this bill.
Further, we request that you immediately implement a listing of all “lost” probationers on a state Web site. This listing should include pictures and any relevant information about their last known whereabouts and a hotline for citizens to report sightings. This low-cost tool will allow the public to help in locating these criminals.
Finally, there should be accountability to evaluate the success rate in finding missing criminals. We urge you to require the Director of the Division of Community Corrections to hold weekly briefings for the public and press to report on the current level of “lost” convicted criminals. The ultimate goal should be no “lost” criminals.
You have emphasized the need to reform North Carolina ’s probation system; this is an opportunity for furtherance of that goal. We stand ready to support your actions in this regard.
Philip E. Berger Paul Stam