North Carolina Department of Correction
Division of Prisons
Cost of Supervision
North Carolina's prison system consists of 88 prison units of various sizes with 27 of the units having a standard operating capacity of less than 100 inmates. The three smallest units, Wilmington, Haywood, and Henderson have a standard operating capacity of 26, 34, and 42 respectively. The largest facility, Central Prison, has a capacity of 947. The state's legacy of small prisons comes from its history. Most prisons were built during the Depression years when the state assumed responsibility from the counties for housing prison road crews.
This legacy, coupled with the large number of small prison units, is what drives up the cost of North Carolina's prison system. For example, the Fiscal Year 1995-96 per inmate daily operating cost of the 46 bed medium security prison unit at Alexander County was $103.83 compared to the $47.98 per inmate daily operating cost of the 832 bed medium security unit at Brown Creek, a new prison expanded with a recent dormitory addition. Thus, it is readily apparent that the economy of scale spreads out the fixed operating costs in larger units operated by the Division of Prisons and lowers the per inmate average daily operating costs.
Costs for Housing Prisoners in North Carolina
The system wide average operational cost for housing inmates in North Carolina prisons in Fiscal Year 1995-96 was $57.35 per day.
SECURITY LEVEL COSTS PER INMATE PER DAY FY 95-96
There is a broad variation of costs per inmate within the security levels in fiscal year 1995-96. Facilities that house close
custody inmates ranged in cost from $61.95 for Eastern Correctional Institution (average daily population of 541) to $100.99
for Blanch Correctional Institution (average daily population of 119). For medium custody, the costs ranged from $47.81 per
day for Craggy Correctional Center (average daily population of 400) to $107.69 at Yancey Correctional Center (average
daily population of 53). Minimum security facilities ranged from $31.02 at Raleigh Correctional Center for Women (average
daily population of 136) to $70.45 at Henderson Correctional Center (average daily population of 51).
Making the Prison System More Efficient
In the last two years, the department has taken steps to improve the efficiency of operations. Seven prisons built in the 1930s and rendered less efficient by federal court rulings that reduced capacity and required increased staffing have been closed.
|COST PER INMATE||YEAR||CAPACITY|
|Moore Correctional Center||medium||1995||131.85||FY 94-95||42|
|Richmond Correctional Center||minimum||1995||120.73||FY 94-95||26|
|Granville Correctional Center||minimum||1996||87.17||FY 95-96||36|
|Halifax Correctional Center||minimum||1996||60.60||FY 95-96||40|
|Person Correctional Center||minimum||1996||79.48||FY 95-96||44|
|Rockingham Correctional Center||medium||1996||96.12||FY 95-96||52|
|Vance Correctional Center||medium||1996||121.95||FY 95-96||44|
The General Assembly directed the department to close Moore, Richmond and Rockingham correctional centers. The
operations of Granville, Halifax, Person and Vance correctional centers have been consolidated into the soon-to-open
Warren Correctional Institution. When the new prison opens, the small Warren Correctional Center built in the 1930s will also
Another consolidation project is underway in western North Carolina. A prison is under construction on the Avery and Mitchell county line that will allow consolidation of the Avery, Watauga and Yancey correctional centers.
|Avery Correctional Center||medium||96.82||48|
|Watauga Correctional Center||minimum||66.38||48|
|Yancey Correctional Center||medium||107.69||46|
Three prisons--Alexander, Scotland and Yadkin correctional centers--have been converted from medium to minimum security. The change in security means a reduction of 20 staff at Alexander, 16 at Scotland and 26 at Yadkin. Reduced costs will increase the efficiency of operation. As medium security prisons, each of the three units had operating costs above $100 per offender per day. That costs will be reduced by the conversions that took place October 1, 1996.