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North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission
Discussion of Incarceration and Its Alternatives in North Carolina
In an examination of strategies to reduce incarceration expenses in North Carolina, this paper compares the costs associated with incarceration and the costs associated with established alternatives to incarceration. In order to alleviate the current strain on North Carolina’s prison population, avert a projected prison overcrowding crisis, and eliminate the need for costly prison construction, more funding should be directed to expanding the use of community-based alternatives to incarceration. Endorsing the full implementation of the remaining five recommendations of the Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission which were drafted specifically to avoid constructing additional prisons, would be a primary goal for reducing the costs associated with Department of Corrections managed individuals. These five recommendations are: (1) restructure the prior record level point ranges in order to expand the points in Prior Record Level 1 and even out the remaining ranges; (2) make the increase in sentence lengths between prior record levels more proportionate using a set percentage (15 percent) increment; the current sentence lengths in Prior Record Level 1 in each offense class would remain unchanged, serving as an anchor; (3) reallocate 3 months from the minimum sentence of Classes B1 through E to the maximum sentence; (4) punish habitual felons three classes higher than the offense classification for the principal offense, but in no case higher than Class C and require an active sentence; and (5) reclassify statutory rape or sexual offense of a person who is 13, 14 or 15 years old by a defendant who is more than 4 years but less than 6 years older from Class C to Class F. Additional suggestions are presented in the area of criminal justice and correction reforms, as well as prevention (i.e., increase existing programs) and intervention (i.e., juvenile day reporting centers with a therapeutic component). The skyrocketing public cost of incarceration in North Carolina is of great concern. The stabilization of the crime rate implies there is a diminishing return from incarcerating certain populations. Tables, figures, references
North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission
Criminal Justice Funding in North Carolina: A System in Crisis
This paper outlines recent criminal justice funding trends in North Carolina at the State level, and the impact that this has produced for the entire State system and for each of its major justice and public safety components. While each component of the North Carolina criminal justice system faces unique problems, issues, and challenges as a direct result of this funding shortage, the net effect invariably impacts the other components and has cumulatively produced a “system in crisis.” This crisis has been felt by the general public and will only continue to negatively impact the citizens’ views of the criminal and juvenile justice systems in the future. With the advent of numerous other issues dominating the headlines, such as Iraq, terrorism, the state of the economy, gas prices, and health care, the result has been a decline in funding for the criminal justice system. The most substantial funding cuts have occurred in the Federal juvenile justice and Byrne/Justice Assistance Grant program which are the primary Federal funding source for the State’s criminal and juvenile justice systems. While criminal justice funding has dropped, the workload or activity of the system has risen. The cumulative effect of the current economic and fiscal funding situation in conjunction with rising system activities and expenditures is producing, and if trends continue will further exacerbate, a “system in crisis.” This paper is divided into two primary sections: State appropriations by criminal justice component and emerging issues by criminal justice component outlines the decline in funding, resultant problems from the decrease in funding, and emerging issues and needs of the North Carolina Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems. Figures, references