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Cost of Supervision
Fiscal Year 2000-2001

Cost of Prison Incarceration
At the start of 2002, North Carolina's prison system consisted of 76 prison units of various sizes with six of the units having a standard operating capacity of less than 100 inmates. The three smallest units - Wilmington, Blue Ridge, Black Mountain, and Union - had average daily populations of 35, 60 and 72 respectively. The two largest facilities, North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women and Central Prison each held more than 1,000 inmates. The state's legacy of small prisons comes from its history. Most prisons were built during the Depression years when the state assumed responsibility from the counties for housing prison road crews.

This legacy, coupled with the large number of small prison units, is what drives up the cost of North Carolina's prison system. For example, the Fiscal Year 2000-2001 per inmate daily operating cost of the medium security prison unit at Cleveland County (avg. daily population 122)  was $75.01 per inmate per day compared to the $56.62 per inmate daily operating cost of the medium security unit at Brown Creek, a newer prison with a daily average of 834 inmates. Thus, it is readily apparent that the economy of scale spreads out the fixed operating costs in larger units operated by the Division of Prisons and lowers the per inmate average daily operating costs.

During the 1990's the NC Department of Correction has carried out an extensive program of prison consolidation, building and opening newer and larger prisons and closing many of the small, outdated prisons with high costs of supervision. In early 2001, construction was beginning on three new 1,000 cell close custody prisons in Alexander, Scotland and Anson counties.

Costs by prison security level
The system wide average operational cost for housing inmates in North Carolina prisons in Fiscal Year 2000-2001 was $63.43 per day.

FY 2000-2001

close custody $84.21
medium custody $67.43
minimum custody $54.02
average $65.29

With the recent closings of many small prisons, the differences in supervision costs between prisons have narrowed considerably. In 2000-2001 facilities that house close custody inmates ranged in cost from $98.74 per day per inmate at Caledonia Correctional Institution (average population 542) to $68.16 for Southern Correctional Institution (average population 721). For medium custody, the costs ranged from $82.52 per day at Piedmont Correctional Institution (average population 696) to $53.73 at Craggy Correctional Center (average population 402 ). Minimum security facilities ranged from $110.82 at Scotland Correctional Center (average population 61) to $31.28 at Charlotte Correctional Center (average population 243). The state's only maximum security institution, Central Prison in Raleigh (average population 1,009), operated at a cost of $104.44 per inmate per day.

Cost of Community Corrections Supervision
Through the Division of Community Corrections, the State of North Carolina also supervises almost 110,000 probationers and about 5,000 parolees at costs far less than those of keeping someone in prison.

Average daily costs of 
Community Corrections supervision
(per offender)  FY 2000-2001

Regular Probation/Parole $1.87
Intensive Probation $12.69
Electronic House Arrest $7.16
Drug Screening Program $4.05

Supervision costs for past years
2002 | 2001 | 2000
| 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994

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