Comments made by the lame duck administration of Governor Mike Easley in Tuesday’s News and Observer stating that “more prisoners need to be kept behind bars” in reaction to problems in the probation system have raised the eyebrows and tempers of North Carolina’s citizens. Citizens have repeatedly called for more funding for effective alternatives to incarceration that can truly rehabilitate offenders in the community. Demanding more funding for prison cells at a time when budget forecasters are projecting a budget shortfall in excess of two to three billion dollars in this state is a failed solution and response that has already failed the hardworking families of North Carolina for too many years.
Do North Carolinians really want to spend $22,000 per year to lock up one person under minimum custody supervision or do we want to look at better options that can rebuild the lives of nonviolent offenders and ensure that they can become productive tax contributing citizens of North Carolina?
The ‘lock ‘em up’ option offered by the outgoing governor highlights outdated solutions and the need for management to bring the criminal justice system into the new millennium. This must be done in a manner that still protects public safety and saves taxpayer dollars.
The administration should look at making the probation system functional before spending millions to add new prisons. We need a management system that can provide an accelerated training schedule for incoming probation officers and a hiring system that does not take six months to negotiate. Some of those changes require quality leadership, not just money.
Visit http://www.doc.state.nc.us/dop/cost/index.htm to compare North Carolina’s average cost of prison incarceration per inmate to other community-based supervision levels. – NC Dept of Corrections
Probation’s Main Problem is Sentencing, Easley Says (Dec. 17, 2008) – News & Observer http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1336819.html
Charmaine S. Fuller, Executive Director
Carolina Justice Policy Center
“The Carolina Justice Policy Center is a statewide criminal justice advocacy and policy based nonprofit organization that has promoted effective, equitable and humane solutions to criminal justice problems since 1975.”