Three years after North Carolina enacted justice reinvestment legislation, this report reviews the policies the state enacted and their impact on North Carolina’s correctional and criminal justice system. Through transforming the state’s probation system, reinventing how treatment is delivered, and expanding supervision, the state has seen declines in its prison population, the number of probation revocations, and releases from prison without supervision.
In 2010, North Carolina’s prison population was projected to grow by 10 percent over the coming decade. At the time, probation revocations accounted for more than half of prison admissions, and only about 15 percent of people released from prison were receiving supervision. From 2010 to 2011, the CSG Justice Center worked with North Carolina state leaders to develop data-driven policy options designed to reduce corrections spending and increase public safety. CSG Justice Center staff interviewed stakeholders across the criminal justice system and conducted a comprehensive analysis of North Carolina’s criminal justice data. Signed into law in 2011, the Justice Reinvestment Act:
- Requires mandatory supervision for everyone convicted of felonies upon release from prison;
- Empowers probation officers to use swift and certain jail sanctions in response to violations of conditions of supervision;
- Increases sentences for people convicted of repeat breaking-and-entering offenses; and
- Provides substance use treatment, cognitive behavioral services, and other evidence-based programming to people on supervision who have the greatest need for treatment and are at the highest risk of reoffending.
These policies are projected to save the state up to an estimated $560 million over 6 years in reduced spending and averted costs. By 2015, the state closed 11 small prisons and reinvested savings in 175 additional probation and parole officers, expanded electronic monitoring, and cognitive behavioral interventions and substance use treatment for people with the greatest need for treatment and who are at the highest risk of reoffending.
In March 2016, the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice published a report, “Justice Reinvestment Performance Measures,” which highlights the success of North Carolina’s policies, including an 9.6-percent drop in the prison population and a 67-percent drop in the number of prison admissions due to probation revocations between FY2011 and FY2015. The number of people receiving post release supervision after leaving prison increased from 16 percent in FY2011 to 75 percent in FY2015. The state also experienced a 16-percent decrease in crime between 2010 and 2014.
The CSG Justice Center provided technical assistance to North Carolina on the implementation of its justice reinvestment policies. In particular, the CSG Justice Center helped North Carolina redesign its treatment program for people on supervision, measure program fidelity, and implement swift and certain sanctions.