AUGUST 29, 1996

VANCEBORO -- Gov. Jim Hunt will dedicate the new Craven Correctional Institution Sept 11 at 2 PM, opening the state's largest prison processing center.

Prisoners from eastern North Carolina jails will enter the state prison system by first going through processing at the 712-cell prison. They will be tested, evaluated and interviewed to determine assignments to prisons, jobs and programs.

"Opening this prison will move prisoners from jail, get them processed and get them assigned to the appropriate prison," said Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman. "Adding cells to our prisons will help keep violent offenders behind bars where they belong."

Craven's opening will allow the department to discontinue the processing of inmates at Hoke and Southern correctional institutions providing prison managers more flexibility in housing inmates at those prisons. More than 5,000 inmates were processed through Hoke and Southern last year and prison managers expect more than 400 inmates a month to be processed through Craven as it reaches full speed next spring.

After the dedication, staff will move into the prison and prepare it for the first inmates. Staff will check and recheck the new facility and its procedures to insure its proper operation as inmates gradually fill its cells.

The $24.3 million prison will employ 371 people.