Local News

Nearly 1,000 positions cut from state corrections

Posted August 19, 2009 6:22 p.m. EDT
Updated August 20, 2009 12:54 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Department of Correction will eliminate 972 positions and close seven of the state's 79 prisons, leaving other facilities to absorb hundreds of inmates, because of state funding.

"That's a net loss of about 500 positions for us and a big effect in the counties where those seven prisons are," DOC spokesman Keith Acree said.

The General Assembly actually increased the department's $1.3 billion annual budget by $10.8 million, Acree said, by improving funding to areas that have been traditionally underfunded. That includes ongoing expenses, such as inmate medical costs, utilities and overtime pay.

The prison closures affect nearly 950 inmates and begin Sept. 1, with Wilmington Residential Facility for Women, Acree said. Correctional centers in Cleveland, Gates, Granville, Guilford and Union counties will close by Dec. 1.  McCain Correctional Hospital in Hoke County will close April 1.

Acree said they are still working to determine where the prisoners would be relocated.

Also unclear is how many positions in each of the DOC's divisions will be cut.  Officials still have to determine where 100 positions will be eliminated. The majority, Acree said, will come from the Division of Prisons.

The Department of Correction is also merging 14 judicial districts, bringing the number from 45 to 31, which means some top probation managers will lose jobs.

"It's something we've looked at for the last couple of months and are looking at it to try and carry out what the Legislature has instructed us to do," said Tim Moose, director of the state Division of Community Corrections, which oversees the parole-probation system.

DOC officials said the impact on public safety will be minimal. The department is actually adding 18 chief probation officers.

"We think it is going to be OK," Acree said. "It doesn't reduce the number of officers on the street supervising offenders. It just reduces the number of people in the management structure."

The DOC is one of the state's top employers with approximately 20,000 employees.