Total Correctional Population: 149,300
Number on Parole or Probation: 95,200
Number in Local Jail or Prison: 54,100
Incarceration Rate per 100,000 residents: 530
Incarceration Rate Rank: 31st
Corrections Share of 2018 General Fund Expenditures: 8.9%
“Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
"2018 State Expenditure Report," National Association of State Budget Officers
“We need to get people into good-paying jobs and get them into housing … These things become pipe dreams for many people with criminal records.”
North Carolina’s Second Chance Act, which would expand and simplify expungement, was advanced by the House Judiciary Committee this week. It was unanimously approved by the Senate in May, and has support from groups across the ideological spectrum including the state Conference of District Attorneys. Senate Bill 562 would allow people with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions to have their public record cleared after seven years. And starting in 2020, records of charges for which a person was not convicted will be automatically removed.
June 28, 2019
“The choice between civil asset forfeiture and fighting crime is a false dichotomy.”
Writing in the Clarion Ledger, Brett Kittredge of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy and Lee McGrath of the Institute for Justice call for an end to civil asset forfeiture. “Mississippi law enforcement isn’t necessarily busting drug kingpins,” they argue, pointing to a review of the first 18 months of the state’s civil forfeiture database. Fewer than 10 seizures had a value of more than $60,000, and the vast majority were for $5,000 or less. Dismissing the argument that civil forfeiture is needed to fight crime, the authors say North Carolina, New Mexico and Nebraska, which have abolished civil forfeiture, haven’t seen spikes in crime or become “havens for drug dealers.”
June 14, 2019
“I’m not trying to justify anything. But there is more than one way to pay for a crime, and I have overpaid for mine.”
Legislators in Maine are debating a bill that would allow courts to reduce juvenile restitution based on financial circumstances or allow some of the debt to be paid off with community service. While many states have moved to reduce or eliminate juvenile fines and fees, only six states (Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia place a limit on juvenile restitution obligations. These debts are not consistently collected—Connecticut recovered 87% of the amount owed, while Mississippi recovered only 28%.
May 24, 2019
“If one was going to design and implement a college program based on the two-years-inside/two-years-outside model, what went well and what might be done differently?”
Researchers from the RAND Corporation examined North Carolina’s Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project and made a series of recommendations to states looking to implement postsecondary education programs for people who are incarcerated. Suggestions include increasing the range of degree programs, allowing post-release participants to attend college part-time, funding full-time navigators and administrators, and ensuring long-term financing to sustain the program. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has continued to fund elements of the Pathways program after the demonstration project funding ended, and has added education to housing, employment and transportation as the pillars of reentry.
April 5, 2019
“Rethinking whether these kinds of crimes should be considered violent would change the conversation about what must be done to cut the incarcerated population…”
The Marshall Project conducted a nationwide survey of statutes and found that many people being classified as “violent” criminals have committed offenses most would not consider violent. In Kentucky, possession of anhydrous ammonia with intent to manufacture methamphetamines is classified as a violent crime, and carries a potential sentence of 20-50 years. In Minnesota, possession of marijuana can be considered a violent offense. And in North Carolina, trafficking a stolen identify is classified as a violent crime.
March 29, 2019
“For a lot of people, once you get into this cycle, you don’t get out.”
A new study from the Duke University School of Law found 1,225,000 active driver’s license suspensions for non-driving related reasons in North Carolina, comprising nearly 15% of all adult drivers in the state. Overall, 67.5% of those suspensions were for failure to appear in court, 21.4% were for failure to pay traffic costs, fines or fees, and 11% were for both. The researchers also found a disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic drivers, who made up 29% of driving-age North Carolinians, and 58% of suspensions for failure to pay fines and costs.
March 8, 2019
“There are people in every community who don’t need to be back out during the pendency of their cases. But the great majority of people do.”
Judges in North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County have replaced monetary bail schedules with individualized assessments based on a defendant’s likelihood of fleeing, reoffending, or tampering with witnesses. In their announcement of the new policy, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge W. Robert Bell and Chief District Court Judge Regan Miller also said that they plan to review their bail policies on a biennial basis. Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman told the Charlotte Observer she was studying the data and may change their bail policy, noting that “we certainly don’t want to be in the business of criminalizing poverty.”
January 11, 2019
“We could do all this punishment all day. But then they’re still going to come out into the neighborhood. We’re just trying to prepare somebody to re-enter society.”
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden closed the county jail’s disciplinary detention unit, which had been used to keep juvenile offenders in solitary confinement. Incarcerated youth are now let out of the cells for at least seven hours per day; have access to phones, television, the library, and family visits; and can attend classes. Sheriff McFadden also said he plans to restore in-person visits with family members and friends, which the previous sheriff had restricted to video monitors.
October 26, 2018
“Regardless of the cause, former state prisoners in North Carolina are experiencing worse employment outcomes now than they did during earlier periods of economic growth.”
The North Carolina Department of Commerce found that post-release employment rates of people who have been incarcerated are much lower than in the 1990s, and have not returned to pre-recession levels. In 1998, 62% of formerly incarcerated people were employed one year after their release; in 2014 that number was only 39%. The authors suggested a variety of contributing factors, including an overall decline in job-finding, reduced numbers of manufacturing jobs, a decline in education levels among incarcerated people, and the increased use of criminal background checks for job applicants.
April 6, 2018
“They keep a close eye on their clients, but in many places, no one is keeping a close eye on them.”
In the New York Times, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Shaila Dewan examined the extraordinary powers and lax regulationof the $2 billion bail bond industry. They found complaints of kidnapping, extortion, forged property liens, theft and embezzlement that rarely resulted in meaningful punishment for the bail bond agents. This remarkable piece includes particularly shocking stories of people, families, and their liberty impacted by this industry, and don’t miss what happened to Christopher Franklin in North Carolina.