Local News

Durham renovates former jail into center for released inmates

Posted January 24, 2011
Updated January 25, 2011

— There are more than 40,000 people incarcerated in the state of North Carolina. Another 100,000 are on probation or parole. 

Leaders in the criminal justice system try to keep recidivism low, keeping prisoners from going back to prison once they are released. In Durham, revamping the former jail into a resource center for released inmates re-entering the community is one step toward that goal.

The renovations started in January 2010 and ended in October. Durham County leaders hosted an open house of the facility Monday.

"Instead of locking people up, now it's a facility to help people stay free," said deputy director of the center Jo Iverson.

The Durham County Criminal Justice Center is a 40,600-square-foot building in the heart of downtown Durham. At 326 E. Main St., it is housed in the building that used to contain the Durham County jail.

After $4 million in construction, the center is providing rehabilitative services to former inmates, including job and life counseling. Several parts of the building were totally gutted and rebuilt using energy-efficient materials.

In addition to services for former inmates, the center supports the justice system at large with supervision of high-risk offenders in Durham and the collection of criminal and treatment histories, county officials said. 

For Drew Doll, a former inmate, the center was the only place he had to turn.

"The CJRC gave me a safe place to live, gave me food, gave me transportation, helped me with clothing," Doll said. "It's just a great way to get back into the community, to build friendships again, to feel like a normal human being again, and not like a convict."


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  • harst201 Jan 25, 2011

    This is great, is this a private or State funded Resource Center? If State funded I only hope the funds will be available to keep it operating

  • dlk13ster Jan 25, 2011


    Amen. Every time a convict turns a corner and makes good on his life, that's one more responsible citizen-taxpayer who is contributing to his community and who can help make our state/nation/world a better place. If even 25% of the people who go through the center become productive members of society; IMHO that is money WELL SPENT.

    I just hope people give it a chance before they scream bloody murder about "Deficit! Entitlement! Nanny state! Society of indulgence!" and the like.

  • fatchanceimwrong Jan 25, 2011

    "The CJRC gave me a safe place to live, gave me food, gave me transportation, helped me with clothing," Doll said.

    Sounds like a great program as long as the "giving" is temporary and the program is focused on assisting in the transistion, not a path toward a life of someone giving them something.

  • GetURFactsSTR8 Jan 25, 2011

    Bravo Durham. It wont work well for every convict, but hopefully the +50% that it helps at least land a job or keep them from doing petty crimes to survive, it is worth it. I wish other communities would take notice. There are too many empty building sitting around going to waste to be jaw jacking about the cost to build new community center, homeless shelters,police stations, or even schools.

  • Lead by Example Jan 25, 2011

    I truly hope that this works, and doesn't prove to be a waste of money. Good luck to those involved.