CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With more than 11,000 North Carolina offenders missing, escaping the supervision of their probation and parole officers, a retired judge and current lawmaker is calling on the agency in charge to explain the reasons behind the problem, so the state can come up with solutions.
"I think the numbers are pretty shocking," Rep. Marcia Morey (D), NC-30, said when WCNC Charlotte shared its findings with her. "We need to get to the bottom of why this is happening. Are the numbers going up or down? And what, if anything, can the General Assembly do with oversight or funding? Is it a staffing problem? But it's a problem that needs to be looked into."
WCNC Charlotte recently discovered two absconders went missing and then reportedly committed multiple murders. The men are no longer on the run now, but their time off the grid is a cautionary tale.
"They should be watched -- we should be doing all we can to get them in compliance," Rep. Morey said. "These people should be being monitored any way and we need to find out what is the problem, where are the problems and address them the best we can."
The retired judge sits on the House Appropriations, Justice and Public Safety committee. She's now calling on North Carolina Community Corrections to detail the scope of the problem.
"We should be getting reports and there should be annual reporting," she said.
Mark Raley is calling for accountability too.
"The victims don't have no voice anymore," the Mothers of Murdered Offspring vigil coordinator said. "Who's going to cry for them?"
Raley's cousin was murdered last year in a case that remains unsolved. He said it's unacceptable that the whereabouts of more than 11,000 offenders, under the supervision of the state, are a mystery too.
"The state needs to be held accountable," he said.
Three years after the director of Community Corrections told WCNC Charlotte his agency was doing everything it could to find the many absconders, Community Corrections has reduced the number of absconders by 15%, but among those missing today, some are convicted of murder, rape, kidnapping and assault.
In a recent statement, Community Corrections told WCNC Charlotte probation and parole officers work tirelessly to encourage offenders to follow their court-ordered supervision agreements but said regretfully, some willfully fail to uphold their part of the agreement.
Even so, the agency said it makes every effort, with the tools and resources available, to find them.