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February 19, 2008

Add North Carolina to the list of states strugging with prison population problems

This AP story highlights yet another state dealing with the economic and policy challenges of an ever-expanding prison population.  Here are details:

The rapid growth in North Carolina's prison population may force lawmakers to spend more tens of millions of dollars to expand the state prison system, according to recent population projections. The growth has cooled but not enough to ward off the need for new construction, said Susan Katzenelson, executive director of the state Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission. The commission has suggested shortening some prison sentences to address the problem, but lawmakers haven't acted on the advice.

Last year, prison expansion projects cost more than $32 million. Those projects included adding 504 beds at Scotland Correctional Institution, a 1,000-bed high security facility in Laurinburg, and 252 beds at Alexander Correctional Institution, a 1,000-cell close custody prison in Taylorsville. Despite the construction, the state's prison population is expected to outstrip capacity this year. Projections show a 6,000-bed shortfall by 2017....

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, co-chairwoman of a committee that helps set the Department of Correction budget, said her colleagues must consider alternatives. The Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission has suggested subtle changes be made to sentencing laws to shorten some prison sentences that Kinnaird, a Carrboro Democrat, said could reduce the prison population by up to 1,000 inmates.

Lawmakers have been unwilling to consider the recommendations. Committee member Rep. Carolyn Justus, a Hendersonville Republican, doesn't like the idea of shortening prison terms, though she said she may consider looking at sentencing alternatives for nonviolent criminals.

Recent coverage of other states' struggles with the various costs of large prison populations:

February 19, 2008 at 09:10 PM | Permalink

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What's not stated in the excerpt is the general acceptance of North Carolina as one of the most successful states in the sentencing reforms still being pushed nationally as the best option for keeping prison populations down. Even with "reform," the longer sentences and times served pile up offenders in prisons past the point at which they would have been released in earlier days. Minnesota, another long recognized "reform" success, has one of the fastest rates of prison growth in the nation, and Virginia and Washington state, two other biggies, have been having problems. A good public safety argument can be made for holding the violent and habitual offenders for long periods as the "reforms" do, but it seems clear that the "cost-benefit" of past "reforms" only delayed and didn't stop population growth. Those continuing to push those "reforms" need to rethink if costs and public safety are both still priorities. As I argued on my blog, we have to get outside that box to explore and expand the possibilities of "technocorrections," whether we like that future or not, whether it's a dangerous future or not. The growing work in pharmaceuticals and bioengineering will likely have bedspace reduction potential for those with substance abuse and maybe even violent or sexual offense problems, especially if promoted through specialty courts with trained personnel. And this doesn't include the work in surveillance that has already started exploding. It's certainly a potential combo of both "Brave New World" and "1984," but other nations are already headed down that path and will have success stories to sell before the dangers can pile up. Our policymakers are heading into white water rapids on many fronts and will be sorely tempted by these cheaper alternatives that, because they are scary and punitive and will be opposed by liberal types, will have appeal to the public that traditional community options don't. We need to start planning and structuring all this to minimize the dangers and max out on the public safety. The real alternative will likely be a patchwork of status quo, dangerous releases, and unthought adoption of these technologies catch-as-catch-can. That will be better than a "technocorrections" future? Shouldn't we at least be discussing that?

Posted by: Michael Connelly | Feb 20, 2008 8:49:42 AM

my name is david rich and i was wondering if you could provide me with any information on recent changea in north carolina prison sentencing reduction laws in which certain inmates are required to serve only 65 percent of their sentence.

Posted by: david rich | Sep 20, 2008 4:15:58 PM

I am a mental health professional. I am curious to know if there is alternative sentencing for offenders of drug trafficking in the state of North Carolina. I also am curious to know if there is a new law sayign offenders have to serve at least 65% of their tine instead of the 85%? Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Alena Hosch | Oct 1, 2008 7:26:13 PM

I am a student. I would like to know if in the state of N.C. is there a new law about offenders having to serve only 65% of their time instead of 85% dealing with drug trafficking? Thank You

Posted by: bobbie woods | Oct 14, 2008 9:34:37 AM

I am a former Rehabilitation Counselor in a maximum security prison and presently a SPED teacher and have found many of the students have very simular traits as fellons I've met and am curious to know if the 65% is nationwide and if there is a letter or petition that I can send out?

Posted by: Denise Phillips | Dec 3, 2008 1:40:12 PM

please let me know what you have found out about reduced sentencing in nc

Posted by: srhodes | Mar 11, 2009 11:29:15 AM

I have a question as to weather on not the have indeed passed a law regarding probation laws and maximum laws , if you would please email me back or i can send you my phone number when you email me , thnx , Latricia

Posted by: Latricia | Apr 28, 2009 8:18:41 PM

My husband is currently in prison serving a 10-13 year sentence (plea bargain) for a non-violent crime....He is also charged as an habitual. Tonight, he called and said he "heard" about a new law that is to be passed by the end of 2009 that non-violent habitual offenders will be able to get their time either cut in half or be eligible for parole after only 3 years...I can't seem to find any information on this....Is it true?? Thanks in advance!

Ashley M.
'wife of an inmate'
amiller8303@yahoo.com

Posted by: Ashley | May 6, 2009 12:33:10 AM

i have a love one that was just sentenced 2 8 2 10 months does he have 2 serve the whole time

Posted by: michele | May 25, 2009 4:46:19 PM

My husband is currently serving 10-12 months in a North Carolina prison. He has heard that the law is changing from 85% to 65%. Is this true and will when if come in to effect? He is a first time non-violent criminal. Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Cathy Tanner | Jun 8, 2009 8:12:53 PM

i have a fiancee who is a non violent offender and is currently serving 7 years of an 11 yr sentence. I am curious to know if there is actually a bill being passed that these offenders will be open for release beginning in the year 2010. Have there been any changes as far as the laws or time that an offender must do to be considered for release. Please give me whatever info you have avaiable. Thank you in advance!
tarsua28@yahoo.com

Posted by: Tasha H. | Jun 25, 2009 4:30:05 AM

I am financee of a prison and i was wondering does the 65% term sentencing apply for the state of west virginia?

Posted by: Trulana | Jul 8, 2009 9:11:17 PM

i'm sorry let me rephrase that. im a fiancee of an inmate that has a minium sentence of 5 yrs, he was telling me that the law has passed from 85% to 65% of your term. is that true & when do u think it might go into affect, if so how much of his time will be reduced?

Posted by: Trulana | Jul 8, 2009 9:17:19 PM

My husband is currently serving a 35-42 month sentence in which he had to take a plea bargain due to his past record. He has no violent record at all. He was told by his lawyer(public defender) this would be his best alternative according to his record. Yes he served time over 17 years ago for a drug violation but why should he accept a plea so he wouldn't get more time even if he felt he was innocent. Again no violent crimes. He is a great father who is now away from his children. I think we need to take have an alternative action for some men/women incarcerated that can change and make a difference. Evaluate this issue hard. You have some that need to be incarcerated and many who need counceling to provide a better way to live in everyday life. I think some can make a huge contribution to help councel others how to stay out of prison. Thank you for listening to our issues and taking the time to hear our views.

Posted by: R. Richardson | Jul 9, 2009 9:29:16 AM

I also am curious to know if there is a new law that says offenders have to serve at least 65% of their tine instead of the 85%? Where do I find this information? please include source. Thanks in advance.

Posted by: sonia carrillo | Sep 30, 2009 11:58:41 AM

My son was sent to prison in July of 2009. He is a repeat drug offender. He was sentenced on house arrest on his first charge, but he sold drugs at that time. The Judge gave him probation after his house arrest knowing he had sold drugs during his house arrest. He is sentenced to 2 to 15 years , but the judge gave him 389 day of credit toward his sentencing. When can he come up for parole and can he get good time credit in west virginia state prison for his conviction.

Posted by: Deborah Howard | Oct 4, 2009 7:08:47 PM

i have a son whos in cp in raligh 4 1st attemped sex but did not have any endeivance he did it no sex was invloved why such a long time sentance he got more time 4 a no no when the state lets otheres have 5- yrs whats wrong with this

Posted by: bonnie | Oct 5, 2009 8:03:48 PM

why do some have little time 4 a sex ack them thoses who didnt do it

Posted by: bonnie | Oct 5, 2009 8:07:47 PM

My brother is a non-violent abitual offender my question is will he have to do 65% or 85% of his time and will he ever be elgiable for parole? there are murders that get less time than what he was sentenced which was 9 to 11 years,for bad checks,seems to me that there is something wrong with this picture.thank you for your help and time.sincerly johnathon b.williams loving,caring family.from north carolina

Posted by: leigha williams(student/sister of inmate) | Oct 22, 2009 10:05:26 PM

my girl friend is serving 80-110 months for traffic pills she was sentenced because of the weight of the pills has the law changed or is it going to change because pills weight is greater than powder

Posted by: winfred kluttz | Jan 12, 2010 12:04:31 AM

I would like to know what kind of sentence my son my be facing, he was caught with 17 hydrocodone pain pills. And the arresting officer said that my son was facing 5 to 7 years of inprisonment. My so has never been in trouble at all.

Posted by: rhonda | Mar 4, 2011 4:12:40 PM

My name is Brandi and I also have a husband who was taken away from his children for selling 2 grams of marijuana while on probation. The probation was for the same type of charge thou his P.O. was letting him off for serving his 3 years of probation. The D.A. had other plans she said he needed to do time and in return gave him 26-32 months. Mind you the law sent an informent to our house where we were minding our own business not out in the streets running minors down, 95% of the ppl that came to him had a sicknesss and was over there 30's. I have seen ppl die cause it was not avaiable to them. I just want to say hope the law does pass so beatiful ppl like my husband want miss the time with there children or wives.I sent off 100 petitions to the Honorable Patti Saris, Chair with the United States Sentencing Commission in Washington,D.C. Hope it helped everyone. Thanks to all that are helping us.

Posted by: Brandi Locklear | Apr 11, 2011 11:03:57 PM

i was sentenced to 8 months house arrest, my probation officer said i should have got supervised probation but i had a poor lawyer.Im a single parent with sole and permanant custody of my minor child.his mother is unfit with a terrible drug and alcohol addiction.I own my own company and worked at the DOC i have never had any criminal record and dont intend to have in the future. i was only trying to save a sick wife now x. Is there any way to shorten my house arrest..so i can take care of my son. the judge questioned it but the da is new and insisted.i was scared to say anything afraid i would end up in jail and not be able to take care of him at all.

Posted by: paul | May 15, 2011 9:53:25 AM

I'm a law abidding citizen. A friend of mine incarcerated in NC called and said they were changing the 85% time serve to 65% time serve is there somewhere on line I can check this information out for him. He was sentenced as a habitual felon but he thinks they charge him for something he did 30 yrs ago. Thanks for any information you can provide.

Posted by: Monica Haughton | Jul 14, 2011 5:51:57 PM

I am the wife of an inmate with 27 months left on a plea bargain sentence for: fraud/scripts and oxycodone charges. He became an addict after 3 surgeries on his shoulder. He is now in minimum custody after serving 4 and 1/2 years at medium custody. He has graduated, received his jouney craftsmen degree in culinary arts and has only 3 qualtiy point and on gain time. The system is not working with us on this time left. He is trying to get on work release so he can get his sentence reduced. Is there any news of impending laws that would help his situation. He is discouraged because he can not work the system any lower and his case manager says his folder is impeccable. So what can we do to bring home a good family man and neunite him with his daughter now 7 and family? His release date is March 2014.
He wrote the Prison Board to see if they could run some of his sentences current with his big sentence to get him home early but they declined and said he would have to go back to CC Courts. Thats not good due to we are out of money and the DA already threw the book at him. I am a struggling teacher trying to keep up with one paycheck that just don't cut it. Please help us any way possisble with a Miracle solution???

Posted by: Ladonna Mincey | Nov 5, 2011 5:58:18 PM

My question : If they would find a alternative to release non violent offenders that mean there will still be a high prison population because some non offenders will still do crime. So if violent offenders have to do all there 85% then non offenders need to do the same

Posted by: Darlena High | Jan 22, 2012 9:22:29 AM

My husband has been incarcerated for a total of 17yrs. He is expected to be released in 2015. He has gotten his high school diploma,and enrolled in over a dozen college classes which he has recieved certifcates for. When a person can go to prison and make positive things out his life,there should be people in high places noticing these people.Everyone deserves a second chance. Anybody can change. My husband need a chance.

Posted by: Darlena High | Jan 22, 2012 9:37:56 AM

My son is serving two habitual sentences for non-violent crimes. With the new sentencing charts his sentences would be greatly reduced. He has been working on the ICP construction crew in several locations. Currently he is in a job training class. I need some guidence as to what to do and where to go to see if he is eligable for a sentence reduction. He asked the judge for a new lawyer and was denied. We do not feel his lawyer was knowledgable or compentent to handle his case. I need some advise or suggestions please.

Posted by: B. KENDRICKS | Jan 27, 2012 9:24:39 PM

I have a really good friend who is from South Carolina and he has a past record in that state. Although he has a record, he has never done drugs and he is a wonderful father. He also worked every day and he would never hurt someone intentionally. He was driving after he had been drinking and lost control of his truck and killed someone. He was charged with 2nd degree murder which I don't understand. I feel like they made an example out of him. He was offered a plea deal in which his attorney told him he needed to take, because if he didn't it would cost him alot of money to continue his defense. So he took the plea not really understanding because he knew he didn't have the money to continue. He was sentenced to 15 years. He has now filed a MAR and waiting to hear from the judge. What I don't understand is how can he get 15 years for an accident and there are people in prison for meaning to murder someone and was only sentenced to 36 months. He is taking responsibility for what he done, but I believe 15 years is over punishment for his crime. How and what can I do to help him out in his situation?

Posted by: Michelle Jordan | Dec 3, 2012 7:40:40 PM

HI I AM A WOMAN WHO HAS RAISED MY GRANDSON BY MYSELF AND I TN MONEY WHEN HE WAS HINK I DID A GOOD JOB BECAUSE BEFORE HE WAS PUT IN PRISON FOR THIS CRIME HE HAD NEVER BEEN IN TROUBLE BEFORE HE WOULD GO OUT AND TRY TO EARN MONEY HE EVEN HAD A LITTLE BUSSINESS OF HIS OWN AT ONE TIME BUT ANYWAY HE WENT OUT ONE NIGHT GOT INVOLE WITH THE WRONG PEOPLE HE WAS ONLY SIXTEEN AND THAEY GOT HIM TO DOING DRUGS AND TELLING HIM THAT IF HE DID NOT DO SOME BAD THINGS THAT THEY WOULD KILL HIM OR HURT HIS FAMILY THIS GROWN WOMAN GOT TWO YOUNG BOYS AND MY SON HIGH AND DROVE THEM TO THIS STORE TO ROB IT I TRYED TO TELL THE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER HOW THIS WENT DOWN BUT THEY DID NOT WANT TO HEAR IT AND ALSO WHEN THEY QUESTION HIM HE DID NOT HAVE AA LAWYER PRESENT OR ASKED TO HAVE ONE THERE THE WOMAN THAT TOOK THEM TO ROB THIS PLACE WAS RELATED TO HIS LAWYER AND THE OTHER TWO GUYS SO HE DID NOT HAVE A CHANCE FROM DAY ONE .NOW HE.S HAS TO MAKE 10 YEARS FOR THIS CRIME BUT THE OTHER TWO OT OUT BECAUSE THEY ALL LIED I AM VERY DISSAPOINTED IN THE COURT SYSTEM THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO HAPPEN.

Posted by: patricia | Dec 6, 2013 7:21:09 PM

CAN SOMEONE PLEASE,TELL ME ABOUT THIS 65% LAW,I HAVE A STEPFATHER,WHO IS IN PRISON,SERVING A 25 SENTENCE FOR HABITUAL..HE WANTS TO KNOW.

Posted by: SHERMIKA | Dec 11, 2013 6:53:20 PM

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