Under the Dome

Dome: Merger of adult, juvenile divisions concerns advocates

From Staff ReportsSeptember 11, 2013 

Some child-welfare advocates expressed concern Wednesday about the merger of the state adult prison and juvenile justice sections of the N.C. Department of Public Safety. The merger was announced Tuesday and described as part of the consolidation of related state agencies that has been underway since 2011, and an ongoing effort to find ways to save money.

Rob Thompson, executive director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children, said the merger raises questions about whether the reorganization de-emphasizes juveniles.

“Preventing juvenile crime and rehabilitating youthful offenders demand a different model than adult corrections,” Thompson said in a statement. “We are concerned that the new structure will lead to a decreased emphasis on youth-focused programming.”

The advocacy group notes that there was a Cabinet-level department on juvenile justice from 2000 to 2011, during which time the juvenile crime rate dropped 27 percent. Then-Gov. Bev Perdue in 2011 ordered, with legislative approval, the merger of three departments – Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Correction and Crime Control and Public Safety – into the new Department of Public Safety.

New DPS Secretary Frank Perry stressed Tuesday, “There will be no mixing of juveniles and adults under supervision in facilities or in community programs anywhere.”

Perry said the changes affect only upper-level management. David Guice, who will run the newly consolidated division, sent a letter Tuesday reassuring those involved in the system.

“DPS recognizes that the evidence-based methods of working with a juvenile population differ greatly from those used with an adult population, and we will not change the way that Juvenile Justice employees work with children,” Guice wrote.

Burr on Syria

Republican Sen. Richard Burr said Wednesday the United States must maintain a viable military threat against Syria as it seeks a diplomatic solution to the dilemma posed by the use of chemical weapon in the country.

“Over the past two years, Bashar al-Assad has brutally murdered over 100,000 of his own people and has used chemical weapons 12 times, with the loss of civilian life increasing with each attack and the latest culminating in the death of over 400 children,” Burr said in a statement. “These facts are indisputable and demonstrate the serious threat that these weapons of mass destruction pose to the security of the region and the world.

“It is my preference to see this situation end diplomatically. However, that requires the threat of military action moving the international community to pressure Assad to accept a certifiable and enforceable solution.

“Should these efforts fail, the United States must be prepared to take necessary punitive military action against the Syrian regime to protect our long-term security and send the message to the world that the use of these weapons will not be tolerated.”

McCrory’s popularity low

Gov. Pat McCrory’s poll numbers are continuing to decline and he is, by some accounts, among the nation’s least popular governors.

McCrory’s approval rating has tumbled from 39 percent in August to 35 percent in September, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm based in Raleigh. The results were aired Tuesday night on Capital Tonight on News 14.

If those ratings are accurate, McCrory is now in the cellar among the nation’s governors.

A survey published in May by The New York Times showed Lincoln Chafee, an independent of Rhode Island, at a 26 percent approval rating, Democrat Pat Quinn of Illinois at 33 percent, Republican Rick Scott of Florida at 35 percent, and Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas at 36 percent.

A foundation with close ties to McCrory began running a TV campaign Tuesday that features the governor talking about his accomplishments since taking office in January.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis and Rob Christensen

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