Overcrowding and a tight budget could lead to lesser sentences for some convicted felons.
It appears lawmakers may be willing, as early as this week, to make changes that would lower some potential sentences, or keep more second-time offenders on probation.
Legislators are responding to recent warnings about inmate overcrowding, the sticker shock for building new prisons and the state's fiscal crisis.
But many are not in favor of giving repeat felons a break. Craven County District Attorney Scott Thomas says, "We'll always have offenders who are violent, we will always have offenders who will not follow probation regardless of what they're ordered to do, and we must have adequate prison space to keep these violent offenders locked up."
The two bills that narrowly passed the senate and have been recommended by a house committee would become the most significant sentencing changes to date if they become law.