RALEIGH, N.C. — Probation officers in North Carolina used to traveling unarmed are now packing .40 caliber heat when calling on their caseloads, thanks to legislative reforms in the state that have freed dangerous inmates that would normally be serving longer sentences, according to reports. The shift has resulted in probation officers no longer supervising clients but embarking on plans to reform them.
As a result of “structured sentencing” laws that were enacted in 1994, where violent and dangerous offenders got longer sentences, probation departments are seeing an increase in offenders that are violent, but not as violent as the ones that are still behind bars for their crimes.
Tony Rand, who is chair of the state’s Post-Release and Supervision Commission, told the Wilmington Star News that since structured sentencing went into effect, the number of probation cases has risen as judges dish out alternative sentences instead of prison time. He said that the three-member panel has increasingly found itself shifting away from parole and toward post-release supervision.