N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--November 1997

Accolades from Everywhere
By Secretary Mack Jarvis

North Carolina is getting a lot of high praise from across the country for being a model correctional system. That wouldn’t be possible without the help of you, the dedicated employees of the Department of Correction. These recent tributes have reminded me to stop and take time to thank all of you for the good work you do every day. It takes a big engine to run this operation, and every part is dependent on the other parts to get the vehicle rolling. We are rolling, and it’s paying off in many ways.

When I meet correction managers from other states, they have been told they should be doing what North Carolina is doing, and they ask me just what it is we are doing.

Here are just a few of the good things going on in our state:

>Gov. Jim Hunt announced in October that the Department of Correction was awarded $13 million from the U.S. Justice Department in addition to the $11 million grant made last December. These funds will allow us to increase our prison space for violent offenders. The review committee said we ranked #1 in all the guidelines required by President Bill Clinton’s Crime Bill. We met their criteria by having violent offenders serve more time in prison and serve the entire sentence imposed by the judge. This announcement came on the heels of another grant from Harvard University and the Ford Foundation. That $100,000 was for North Carolina’s implementation of the Structured Sentencing Act which included developing community punishment programs.

>The Greensboro News and Record wrote about the Ford Foundation grant in an editorial entitled, Government That Works, and said, "State officials can take a justifiable pride in this example of good government. But the real reward for most North Carolinians is already being enjoyed in the form of a lower crime rate and a stronger court system."

The paper also quoted U.S. News and World Report editor David Gergen, who wrote, "Every state should learn from North Carolina’s program how to resolve prison overcrowding and make sure that violent criminals serve their full prison sentences."

>In an October Los Angeles Times article, Charles Colson, founder of Justice Fellowship, wrote, "Many of Justice Fellowship’s reforms were enacted in North Carolina, and the results have been dramatic. Nonviolent offenders are forced to learn trades, get jobs, make restitution or go to prison. Probation is strict. There is electronically monitored house arrest and frequent drug testing. By not sending some offenders to prison, North Carolina is able to make sure that its most serious criminals serve their full sentences. And for the first time, the state has a prison budget that’s under control." Colson went on to write, "The next time a politician tells you that he wants to "get tough on crime," tell him that you would rather he "get smart on crime" and enact solutions like these."

>Dan River Prison Superintendent Wayne Moore, was a panelist in Denver, CO for the Society for Professional journalists convention in October. Reporters who are used to having prison doors slammed shut to them, found North Carolina’s openness towards the press very refreshing. Moore read to the group from our policy manual which states that prisons are public institutions, operated at public expense for the protection of the public and that all citizens have a right and a duty to know about conditions and operations of the State prison system. The policy further states that all members of the State Correction Service should recognize that it is their duty and privilege to inform the people of North Carolina about their prison system. The SPJ plans to post North Carolina’s media policy on its Web page to use as a model for other states.

>ABC network news was at Eastern Correctional Center doing a story on how North Carolina is one of the few states still offering college education courses to prisoners. Those who leave prison with a college education rarely return, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

>And finally, the head of a national consulting group said most prison systems just warehouse inmates. However, in North Carolina, the consultants were impressed with the quality of work that goes on with offenders, the knowledge the officers had and their concern for the inmates, and how extraordinarily positive employees were.

A lot of the credit goes to Gov. Jim Hunt for focusing on crime and encouraging the legislature to fund prison construction and the Criminal Justice Partnership Program which sets up community punishment programs in each county. His vision is one we shared. We couldn’t have had a better leader guide us through an intense period of progress during the past five years. He recognizes, as you and I do, that we can’t turn these offenders out the same way they came to us.

We seem to be doing many things right, and I just wanted to share with you a few of the many comments I hear. We can take pride in a job well done and look forward to the many other challenges coming our way. We can handle it!

NC DOC Correction News- November 1997
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