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

Freeman Tells 400 NCCA Convention-goers What's Ahead

Asheville - the next four years in corrections will be just as challenging as the last four, Secretary Franklin Freeman told NC Correction Association delegates in November. DOC made Gov. Jim Hunt's list of top ten objectives for his next term.

"The Governor wants to put violent criminals behind bars and to make them work," Freeman said. "He's as intense as ever about corrections." DOC is experiencing significant growth to meet the demands it's under. Within the next two years, DOC will have 20,000 employees. some 15,000 new offenders are coming into the system. The inmate population will climb to 35,000 before leveling off. Probation and parole has 117,000 offenders and by the year 2000, the number is expected to rise to 124,000.

Nearly 10,000 new prison beds have been added and other 5,000 are soon to come. "By the end of 1998, the state should have enough beds to match the number of offenders entering the prison system," Freeman said. "We are already beginning to bring inmates back from the out-of-state prisons. Hopefully, by next year we can say all inmates are back in North Carolina."

Freeman also mentioned the most popular program in DOC. "The Community work Program has garnered more support from the public than anything else we've done," Freeman said. It will be expanding in the coming months.

DAPP will also continue to expand its roles since the public supports less costly community punishment programs. "Probation and parole officers are seeing more offenders with violent backgrounds requiring closer supervision," Freeman said. "Programs will provide tighter supervision and offender accountability."

Freeman briefly discussed a new grant program known as Corrections futures. its goal is to develop a plan of action that will lead us into the 21st Century. Some of the issues include how to prepare for the changes brought about by the 1995 Structured Sentencing Act, privatization, OPUS and the department's growth.

"We need to communicate more with the public and the Corrections Futures project will explore ways to do that," Freeman stated. "Gov. Hunt said to put inmates to work and make sure the public knows about it. We've put out reams of press releases to fill the blue Ridge Mountains."

"You can have a voice in the department's future through the regional planning teams being set up across the state," Freeman told the crowd. The futures committee will include input from the courts, victims' groups and community corrections workers. We want to end up with a common vision for success in the 21st Century.

"Let's all work together to get to the next century," Freeman said. "When the ball goes down at times Square, we can say that we're ready to see that the people of North Carolina have the best system in the United States."

Correction News - February 1997
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