“Records show about 117,000 convicts are on probation in North Carolina, meaning each of the 2,000 or so probation officers must handle 58 cases.”
Is 58 case per probation officer a lot? Look at it this way, it is not uncommon for some probation officers’ case loads to exceed a thousand (1,000) probationers (Petersilia). Probation is a cheap, fast and easy method of managing the court systems, chiefly because it is cheaper than imprisonment ($1,000 / year / probationer vs. $26,000 / year / prisoner (Walker)).
The real question is how likely will an offender recidivate who is out on probation?, and the numbers don’t look good. Probationers convicted of violent crime took an average of 8 months to recidivate; property crime probationers took even less time (5 months (Rand)).
The main reason for the failure is that we set these offenders free, but without any of the support networks necessary to ensure their success: an insufficient number of homeless shelters, no job referrals, and definitely no enought mental health clinics (that fact isn’t “speculative” Governor Easley).
And it doesn’t help that from 1979 to 2003 the probation population in this country ballooned from 1 to 4 million (all the while experiencing cutbacks in social welfare programs). Thus the flotsam and jetsam of the war-on-crime, war-on-drugs, war-on-meth – whatever war a current administration is waging – are these probation zombies drifting through the legal-justice system continuing to commit crimes while they wait for their next meeting with the PO.
If you look at Demario James Atwater’s records, his parole history goes waaaayyyyy back to February 2005 where he was given a suspended sentence / probation for breaking and entering.
I don’t think the probation officers are over worked. But they have nothing positive to refer their clients to; no job, no home, no drug clinic, no support system to get them out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves. Without that support probationers will continue to revert back to the line of work they know best; committing more crimes.