Guilford County has selected a new head of Pretrial Services. Karen Moore, currently a supervisor in that office, has been chosen to lead the county division – also known as Court Services – that works closely with judges, public defenders and prosecutors to help the courts function smoothly and help keep the jail population down.
Wheaton Casey, who has headed the county’s Pretrial Services program for over two decades, is retiring at the end of September and, starting on Monday, Oct. 3, Moore will be running the show.
Moore came to work for Guilford County Pretrial Services in 2006. Before that, she worked as a sentencing specialist in Craven County, where New Bern is the county seat.
“I’m delighted,” Moore said of being chosen to head up Pretrial Services, which has offices in the county’s courthouses in both Greensboro and High Point.
Moore said that the interview process was conducted by a panel made up of county personnel. She said she was thrilled to find out that she had gotten the job.
Pretrial Services is a vital cog in Guilford County’s court system and it provides services that are greatly appreciated by judges and other court staff. Pretrial workers interview the accused before their first appearance in court and present information to the judge and others about the employment situation, home life and criminal record for that person. All of that information helps judges and prosecutors determine whether or not someone should be in jail. Pretrial Services also monitors the jail population in the county’s two jails to see if those who are already in jail should be able to await trial out of jail. In some cases, for instance, those in jail are charged with minor offenses but are unable to make a very low bail payment. In other cases, inmates have been in jail awaiting trial for a period longer than their maximum sentence would be be if they were to be found guilty. Pretrial Services points out those and similar situations to court officials.
Guilford County Pretrial Services began as a small office in the early ’90s after an advisory committee formed in the late ’80s attempted to find ways to bring down the jail population. The creation of Pretrial Services was one of that committee’s main recommendations.
Moore said that she has her work cut out for her from the start.
“My primary goal right now is getting fully staffed,” Moore said. “We should have 15, but right now we have three vacancies.”
Moore said the office will be losing a very valuable resource once Casey steps down and that will be a hurdle the division will have to overcome as well.
Casey said that keeping the office fully staffed has been a constant source of headaches during her time as the head of Pretrial Services. She said the stress is high, the hours are long and the pay isn’t as good as it should be, given the nature of the job.
Casey said she thought that Pretrial Services would be in very good hands under Moore, and she added that the two have worked together closely over the last decade.