Dome: Ex-offender supervision program starts despite lack of funding

From staff reportsSeptember 6, 2012 

This past session the General Assembly signed off on an ambitious plan to more closely supervise offenders once they are released from prison, in hopes of keeping them from returning because of minor probation violations. It amounted to the most sweeping rewrite of sentencing laws in two decades.

All well and good, except lawmakers didn’t budget any money to make the Justice Reinvestment Act work.

The state Department of Public Safety asked for 249 positions, including 172 parole and probation officers, to handle the influx of 15,000 ex-offenders who will now need supervision. Those officers are now handling an average of 80 offenders each, and under the new law are expected to only average 60 cases each.

On Thursday, David Guice, director of the Division of Community Corrections, told the Governor’s Crime Commission that he’ll be asking his former colleagues in the legislature (he was a member of the House until taking this job this year) for more money. In the meantime, he said, some positions have been redefined, including 50 vacant spots in the Division of Adult Corrections, to put about 60 officers in the field immediately.

Guice said it was critical that the division find a way to keep the ratio of officers to offenders manageable, for public safety concerns and to accomplish the Justice Reinvestment Act’s goals.

‘Frost/Nixon’ showing

The Raleigh-based Justice Theater Project will perform “Frost/Nixon” for three weekends, starting Friday at 8 p.m. and running through Sept. 23. The nine-show run culminates in a discussion with author and journalist James Reston Jr.; a character in the play is based on his role in the well-known TV interviews.

“Frost/Nixon” is a theatrical adaptation of interviews of Richard Nixon by British journalist David Frost in 1977, a few years after the former president was disgraced by the Watergate scandal.

On Sept. 15 at 7 p.m., Byron Woods of the Independent Weekly will host a panel discussion, “Politics, Conscience and the Media,” followed by the play.

After a 2 p.m. show on Sept. 23, Reston will speak. Reston was teaching at UNC Chapel Hill in 1977 when hired by Frost as an adviser and researcher for the interviews.

Voter registration will take place in the lobby during the shows. For more information, go to www.TheJusticeTheaterProject.org.

New role for DMV official

DMV Deputy Commissioner Johanna Reese has taken a job with the N.C. Association of County Commissioners. She’ll be the association’s new director of government relations. She starts Oct. 8.

Reese has held several positions with state government. She was a legislative liaison for the state Department of Transportation before moving to the deputy commissioner job.

Before going to DOT, she was the legislative liaison for the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“We are excited to have Johanna join our team,” association Deputy Director Kevin Leonard said in a statement. “She will certainly enhance our advocacy efforts, and we look forward to her representing our counties.”

Former Perdue aid starts consulting firm

Courtney Crowder, who worked for Gov. Bev Perdue as one of her lobbyists, says he left her office a few weeks ago to start his own firm, Crowder Consulting Co.

Crowder, who is in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention, says he’ll do public relations and lobbying work.

He was one of 22 lobbyists to land on the list of the most influential for the first time this year. Crowder ranked 28th on the list, compiled from an N.C. Center for Public Policy Research survey.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis, Austin Baird and Lynn Bonner

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