Lawmaker Wants Treatment Not Prison For Nonviolent Drug Offenders

Demand for prison cells in North Carolina is growing more quickly than the supply, but officials say there isn't enough time or money to build more space.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Wednesday that one lawmaker said reducing sentences for some crimes could free up thousands of cells and save construction costs.

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird said she plans to file a bill to steer nonviolent drug offenders to treatment instead of prison. The Orange County Democrat said a different sentencing approach could free up 4,600 prison spaces.

Projections from the state show that in the fiscal year beginning July 1, North Carolina will be short of prison space for about 2,300 inmates.

The state's 79 prisons now hold about 40,000 inmates.

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