Field Trip to Community Corrections

This morning Jamie Markham and I loaded a passenger van with a group of district court judges who had come to the SOG for a week-long orientation course. We hauled them (through the snow) over to the offices of Community Corrections on Yonkers Road in Raleigh. Jamie lectured while I drove.

We took the judges over to probation headquarters so that in addition to learning about the law of probation from the expert (Jamie, obvi), they could meet, hear from, and question the people who set, write, and administer probation policy and who supervise probationers. The experience was amazing.

Senior Policy Administrator Chad Owens and Justice Reinvestment Administrator George Pettigrew told the judges how Community Corrections (probation) carries out the directives of Justice Reinvestment and probation law generally, from the big-picture (risk assessment) to the granular (routine drug screening). They answered questions about how probation officers respond to probation violations of various types and explained mechanics such as how a defendant ordered to complete treatment at DART-Cherry is assessed for substance dependency and how the defendant actually gets to the facility. And the list goes on.

Jessica Bullock, Chief Probation Parole Officer from District 10, passed around an electronic monitoring bracelet and described its features. Fun fact:  The bracelets can talk to the wearer, telling them to, for example, to immediately contact their probation officer. She talked about how electronic monitoring might work for a defendant without a permanent address. And she engaged in a mock dialogue with a judge to demonstrate how she would inform a probationer of a violation report. The best part of the day was when one of the judges asked Jessica what she would like judges to know. Jessica said she wanted judges to know that probation officers were dedicated to helping probationers emerge from probation better off than they had been before. She explained that probation officers are trained to consider the circumstances in a probationer’s life, to identify challenges that prevent probationers from successfully completing probation and to look for potential solutions—all of this while keeping the safety of public in mind. Jessica said she became a probation officer because she cared about people. And she said that she felt as though she had helped defendants, even those who had failed on probation before, make choices that made for a better life.

Tim Moose, Deputy Secretary of Operations for NC Public Safety, Tracy Lee, Director of Community Corrections, Chris Oxendine, Deputy Director of Community Corrections, and Angela Brewer, Assistant Judicial District Manager for District 10, rounded out our group. Each added perspective about probation operations that could never be gleaned from a book of statutes (or even the internet).

We ended our time at Community Corrections with a trip to the Correction Enterprises showroom. You can read more about that operation here. Like any good chaperone, I limited my charges to 10 minutes in what I called the “probation gift shop.”  I had to drag them out of there. Fortunately, no one had time to buy a fire pit to load in the van for the ride back to Chapel Hill.

At the end of the day. It was inspiring to see a group of dedicated people gather to learn from others—and each other—about the laws and procedures that play such a central role in the administration of justice. There are days when the work I do is rewarding beyond measure because it affords me a bird’s eye view of the commitment our state’s public servants have to improving lives and communities in North Carolina. Today was one of those days.

3 thoughts on “Field Trip to Community Corrections”

  1. Seeing is believing . It would be better to review a case and compare it to one of the Written Probation Reports. Chances are 95.% of 100, it written in accurate and most likely the probationer had been violated.

    There is a high reoccurrence to incaraceration. Has anyone investigated the accuracy of the written reports.

    This country believe in extreme punishment and of course the prisons has no problem, each returnee is a deposit for the county.

    Proposition 47, AB261 has little release for the incarcerated, When the prison has a separate agenda.

    What does remorse look like , should it had a face or words after a lengthy imprisonment.

    Yes ! Do more than just a visit compare the cases with the written probation reports .

    There are many who paper work is inked up, picture look real, and it’s translated to legal system… trump up overwhelmingly so.

  2. Question: can I get a group of Judges to ride along with me just for a day to watch and see the injustices that happen at the hand of our government all the time. We will start our trip at night ( Saturday night) in a turned out van, and we will drive through some low income neighborhoods , watch how many times we get stopped, watch how many roadblocks we run into-with drug dogs (remember we do not have that plate on our turned out van telling law enforcement that we are judges). Watch what happens when we say “we know our rights”, and we are told that we are being difficult and that we will have the magistrate set a high bond due to fact we were being difficult. watch as we go to jail and are cussed at and told how sorry we are!!!! Watch when we make our first appearance and the judge and DA do not review our the bond; watch how a class 2 misdemeanor brings a bond of 5000 to 10,000 dollars yet nothing is done to lower that bond; watch how we go to jail and are not allowed our blood pressure medicine; watch how we go to court and the JUDGE always rules for the State; watch how the judge calls the institute of government and is told the case law is for the state; that evidence comes into the courtroom, that roadblock is great, that suppression motion is invalid; watch how JUNK science is allowed into the court. (HGN, etc etc) watch how u get found guilty even though beyond a reasonable doubt is a very very high standard ( remember people must get reelected). watch how we get high fines and costs (oops thats ok we are a van full of judges we make good money). watch how we get placed on probation and get an officer that tells us he will send us back to jail as quick as possible. watch us take a drug test and are told we failed it by a test that is only 50% accurate. This is a more accurate road trip then the one above. This field trip( SOG field trip) is not real life; why didn’t you take some defense attorneys or some people on probation, to get the entire story. This was a make us feel good trip!!!!! This trips only purpose was to get the judges thinking that they are with this team called the STATE.


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