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State Senators Offer Solutions to Building New Prisons

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RALEIGH — The people who run North Carolina's prisons say the facilities are overcrowded. Budget problems could keep them from building more prisons and providing more beds for inmates.

Overcrowding is dangerous for correctional officers and makes the state vulnerable to lawsuits from inmates.

In the 1990s, the state adopted tough crime laws that ruled out the possibility for parole. It also guaranteed a steadily-growing prison population.

New prisons cost a fortune to run and state budgets are tight. Sen. Tony Rand, D-Fayetteville, says in this budget climate he would prefer to pack prisons at up to 30 percent over capacity than build too many prisons.

Another solution is to keep non-violent criminals out of jail.

"If they're drug abusers, put them into a drug abuse program, some treatment center, some alternative sentence so that the population is not dangerous," says Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Carrboro.

Another idea is to let elderly convicts out of jail if they do not pose a threat to society. .


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