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Cost of Supervision
Fiscal Year 1999-2000

Cost of Prison Incarceration
At the start of 2001, North Carolina's prison system consisted of 78 prison units of various sizes with eight of the units having a standard operating capacity of less than 90 inmates. The four smallest units - Wilmington, Scotland, Alamance and Black Mountain - had a standard operating capacity of 26, 44, 46, and 61 respectively. The largest facility, Central Prison, has a capacity of 937. 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 1999-2000 per inmate daily operating cost of the 64 bed medium security prison unit at Cleveland County was $54.06 per inmate per day compared to the $36.44 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.

During the 1990's the NC Department of Correction has carried out an extensive program of prison consolidation, building and opening newer and larger prisons and closing many of the small, outdated prisons with high costs of supervision.

Costs by prison security level
The system wide average operational cost for housing inmates in North Carolina prisons in Fiscal Year 1999-2000 was $63.65 per day.


close custody $75.32
medium custody $68.13
minimum custody $52.52
average $63.65

With the recent closings of many small prisons, the differences in supervision costs between prisons have narrowed considerably. In 1999-2000 facilities that house close custody inmates ranged in cost from $64.82 per day per inmate at Caledonia Correctional Institution (standard operating capacity of 636) to $44.63 for Southern Correctional Institution (standard operating capacity of 640). For medium custody, the costs ranged from $55.00 per day at McCain Correctional Hospital (standard operating capacity of 365) to $36.06 at Lincoln Correctional Center (standard operating capacity of 160 ). Minimum security facilities ranged from $74.80 at Scotland Correctional Center (standard operating capacity of 44) to $23.50 at Charlotte Correctional Center (standard operating capacity of 214). The state's only maximum security institution, Central Prison in Raleigh (standard operating capacity of 937), operated at a cost of $62.64 per inmate per day.

Cost of Community Corrections Supervision
Through the Division of Community Corrections, the State of North Carolina also supervises almost 110,000 probationers and about 5,000 parolees at costs far less than those of keeping someone in prison.

Average daily costs of 
Community Corrections supervision
(per offender)  FY 1999-2000

Regular Probation/Parole $1.89
Intensive Probation $12.23
Electronic House Arrest $6.41
Drug Screening Program $4.12

Supervision costs for past years
2002 | 2001 | 2000
| 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994

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