JUNE 8, 1995

RALEIGH - Convicted criminals can look forward to an additional 2,000 prison beds added since the beginning of this year through new construction. More prisons are being built.

Since early 1993, the Department of Correction has created new bed space for 6,000 offenders.

"We've even created beds when there were none by sending 1,000 inmates out of state and finding 360 beds in county jails," Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman said. "With Governor Jim Hunt's strong emphasis on keeping dangerous criminals in prison longer, we've been able to increase prison capacity by 32% in just two years' time."

Two years ago the prison population was 20,002. By Jan. of this year, the number had risen to 23,815. Since then, the number of inmates has climbed to 26,500.

In addition to new construction and relocation, North Carolina has also successfully gained relief from several federal court orders limiting the number of inmates held in prisons.

The most recent construction projects include the 712-bed Marion Correctional Institution in McDowell County which began receiving inmates this week. Two 64-man dorms at Sanford Correctional Center were dedicated June 7. Dormitories have been added to prisons at Carteret, Columbus, Franklin, Johnston, Sanford and Wilkes correctional centers, the IMPACT-West boot camp, Harnett and Lumberton correctional institutions, Fountain Correctional Center for Women and the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women. More dormitories will be completed this year adding more bed space.

"The Department of Correction is doing it's best to provide as much space as possible for those who break the law," Freeman said.