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New state budget brings many cuts, some additions

RALEIGH Legislators gave final approval on Sept. 21 to the state budget for the 2001-2003 biennium. The new budget closed two prisons and made spending cuts in many other areas across the Department of Correction. At the same time, it included funding increases in several areas.

Alamance Correctional Center closed Oct. 1 and Scotland Correctional Center will close Nov. 1 as ordered by lawmakers. Alamance employees were transferred to other prison units and the same is planned for Scotland employees. Inmates are being moved to units with available bed space.

Effective Nov. 1, IMPACT East and West boot camps will see 25 percent cuts to their budgets and staff while the department works to develop alternative programs in place of IMPACT. The legislature calls for elimination of the IMPACT program by June 30, 2003.

The new budget eliminates seven prison chaplain positions, 10 jobs in prison programs and six jobs in reception and diagnostic centers. In the Division of Community Corrections, 44 positions were eliminated. The Parole Commission eliminated two vacant positions.

The Division of Community Corrections will assume control of the Community Service Work Program from the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety by Jan. 1, 2002. This program will bring in about 160 employees who coordinate work assignments for offenders who are ordered to perform community service.

Funding increases were granted to hire additional correctional officers in segregation units at Warren Correctional Institution and Fountain Correctional Center for Women. Funding was also included to operate the new diagnostic center and housing area at Central Prison and a new 208-bed dormitory and kitchen at North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women.

In separate legislation, lawmakers approved the construction of three new 1,000 cell close-custody prisons in Alexander, Anson and Scotland counties. Ground breaking and the start of construction are planned this fall at all three sites.

Pay raises of $625 were approved for state employees. The October pay period included the first portion of the increase, retroactive to July 1. The state will continue to cover the cost of heath insurance premiums for state employees, but significant increases were approved for dependent coverage.

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