NC temporary suspension of operations at 3 prisons could impact local jails

North Carolina

(WNCT) “I fully expect now that with the closing of those three other prisons that that backlog will increase,” said Pitt County Sheriff Paula Dance.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced they’ll temporarily suspend operations at three minimum custody prisons to alleviate high staff vacancy rates; enhance safety and security.

Pitt County Sheriff Paula Dance says this decision will have a domino effect on local jails.

“It increases the capacity at the detention center of local inmates that we are holding,” she said.

The Pitt County Detention Center can hold nearly 500 inmates. Dance has almost hit capacity at times due to backlog at state prisons.

“Without being able to move inmates that are sentenced to prison, my greatest fear is that we are going to reach overcapacity I’ll have to send back federal inmates that we do make that revenue off of and then accept a $40 a day when it’s actually costing us $70 per day per inmate,” Dance explains.

This also affects the number of revenue jails can bring in.

“It’ll decrease my ability to produce revenue for the county taxpayers. The state pays us $40 a day to hold those inmates. That is space that I could use to house federal inmates at 100 dollars a day,” said Dance.

Hoke Correctional Institution, Tyrrell Prison Work Farm and Odom CI will suspend operations in phases in the near future, according to a press release.

“We will continue to explore all options to aid in reducing vacancy rates and keeping our employees and communities safe,” said ACJJ Chief Deputy Secretary, Tim Moose.

Dance hopes something can be done.

“Maybe the sheriff’s association will be able to write a bill do something, have those conversations with the Department of Public Safety to express our concerns as sheriffs and our ability to be able to even hold our own inmates let alone state inmates at a reduced price,” Dance said.

Correctional officers and staff from those three prisons will be moved to neighboring prisons. Inmates will be relocated statewide.

The agency will re-evaluate the three prisons’ status six months after the suspension.

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina agency says it will temporarily suspend operations at three minimum custody facilities and move correctional officers and other staff to neighboring prisons to address what it calls staffing challenges.

N.C. Department of Public Safety says in a news release on Tuesday that it’s making the move with the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice to better utilize available staff and make state prisons and communities safer.

The news release says operations will be suspended at Hoke Correctional Institution, Tyrrell Prison Work Farm and Odom Correctional Institution to deploy staff to prisons with high officer vacancy rates.

Information provided to The Associated Press on April 2018 showed North Carolina’s understaffed prisons remained dangerous for employees just months after four workers were killed in an escape attempt.

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