Parole officers in Wake County, North Carolina, had a competition that rewarded the unit of parole officers that arrested the most parolees and probationers with a pizza party.
On Friday, an official with the Division of Community Corrections in North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety told ABC11 that the state learned about the competition on Thursday and quickly put an end to it.
“We didn’t know about the pizza party, or it would not be taking place,” said Lewis Adams, Judicial Division Administrator for Division 2. “Management was made aware of it yesterday and, after a brief conversation, halted the competition.”
It is currently unclear how and when the Division of Community Corrections learned about the pizza parties.
An anonymous tipster sent ABC11 a flyer the parole officers had passed out to their colleagues about the parties as well as two emails sent by a program manager in Wake County encouraging employees to participate.
“Get ready,” she writes, “A District-Wide Quick Dip Compliance Competition is about to start!!!! Get with your Unit for a game plan if needed and see if you can help get your Unit to Number 1.” Laced in the email are tiny clip art pictures known as emojis.
The email was sent on December 16.
Another email sent by the same person was sent on January 1. In the email, the manager wrote, “The QDC Competition is now in full swing!!! Good Luck Everyone!! Ends February 29!!”
Adams said the department usually uses more positive, and proactive competitions to increase parole compliance.
Defense attorneys believe incentivizing parole and probation officers to have people locked up will create an ethical concern. The tipster, who said he/she works at the department, also called the competition unethical.
The tipster also said there have been a lot of verbal objections to the competition by the Division of Community Corrections staff.
In an email, the tipster wrote, “The result is that this competition may produce an undue burden on the local jail and will also have an adverse impact on the lives of probationers. I am deeply embarrassed by Wake County’s management and I’m bothered by the fact that those in current management positions find this conduct acceptable.”
A Division of Community Corrections spokesperson declined to comment on the story.
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