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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  • by Daryl Turner Location: Pink Hill on Feb 13, 2009 at 07:50 AM
    If someone gave your child poison would you want that person to go to prison or to mental health? I am sure that none of us would want our children poisoned by drug dealers so why get soft on drug dealers when all they want to do is make money on others misery. I am all for helping people addicted to drugs through treatment. I know that the majority of drug dealers are not drug users themselves so rehab is not for the salesman but the end user. I hope that good sense will prevail on this issue.
  • by Ted Location: Greenville on Feb 12, 2009 at 10:08 AM
    To Duh: Your post suggest Prison is for rehabilitation, Prison is for PUNISHMENT we have a few rehab programs but that is not the primary function of a Prison. The courts sentence them according to the law to a term in prison as Punishment, nothing else.
  • by WITN Moderator Location: WITN on Feb 12, 2009 at 07:29 AM
    C.D. - Please make sure to use upper and lower cases when you post comments. It makes it much easier for all to read. Thank you.
  • by C. D. Location: GREENVILLE on Feb 12, 2009 at 07:10 AM
    TO TRUTH HURTS, YOUR 17 YEAR OLD KID WON'T GO TO PRISON FOR A LITTLE POT. UNLESS THE KID HAS A BAD, BAD RECORD. WE ALREADY PLACE TOO MANY DRUG DEALERS ON PROBATION NOW AS IT IS. 85% OF ALL CRIME IS DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY RELATED TO DRUGS. CHECK THE FBI STATS IF YOU DON'T THINK SO. FURTHERMORE FOR EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO LEGALIZE DRUGS, JUST THINK IF YOU NEEDED HEART SURGERY AND YOUR DR WAS STONED OUT OF THEIR MIND. I WOULD WANT THEM CUTTING ME OPEN, HOW BOUT YOU? OR BETTER YET, YOUR CHILD BEING IN AN ACCIDENT AND DYING FROM A CLOUDED DECISION FROM A DR BECAUSE THEY HAD JUST SNORTED A LINE OF COCAINE. CHANGES THE SCENARIO A LITTLE DOESN'T IT. THERE IS NO IMMEDIATE TEST TO FIND OUT IF SOMEONE IS USING DRUGS, SO HOW CAN YOU MAKE SURE THAT SOMEONE ISN'T INTOXICATED ON A "LEGAL" DRUG.
  • by Duh Location: g-ville on Feb 12, 2009 at 06:05 AM
    Duh, I can't believe it took 100's of years for people in power to realize that prison DOES NOT WORK! Obvisously since they are overflowing! Violent crimes are one thing, they should be locked away however I belive that "most" people can be rehabilitated with just some effort and care. I was given help with chemical dependentcy and have not reoffended in over a decade, and don't plan too. Treatment DOES work.
  • by ace Location: plymouth on Feb 12, 2009 at 05:24 AM
    what are you going to do for the people that have items stolen so these lawpbreakers can get money to get high. Why not fence in the boundry for Fort Bragg and let our troops guard us from local and not foreigh threats.
  • by ace Location: plymouth on Feb 12, 2009 at 05:16 AM
    There is a law against illegal drugs. Either enforce the law or remove it. I got an idea, lets do what they did concerning alcohol. Legalize its use and sell it at an ABC Store.
  • by Barbara Location: Beulaville NC on Feb 12, 2009 at 04:26 AM
    well said Rt location Gvegas. We need to let them know that it is a punishment, not a vacation.
  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Feb 12, 2009 at 04:21 AM
    Lots of trash on the roads, ditches need dug, etc. OR we can just do what we do now, feed them while they set and watch TV in the jail.
  • by Chris Location: Windsor on Feb 12, 2009 at 04:15 AM
    Oh what a great idea! We should all bake some nice cookies for the crackheads while we are at it! As matter of fact, I just love the non-violent offenders walking around smoking crack and stealing my stuff. Why didn't someone else think of this?
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