LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Correctional Center that was closed last year as a cost-cutting measure may be reopened to house individuals who violate their probation or parole.
The proposal has been approved by the Senate, but now must be approved in the House.
The recently approved Senate version of the 2014-15 budget allocates $3.7 million for a minimum security facility, which is not technically a prison, to house and provide treatment programs for probation violators. The creation of this facility comes out of the 2011 Justice Reinvestment Act that provides programs that are aimed at ridding the prison population of repeat offenders.
A similar facility is proposed for Burke County at another former prison.
According to the Senate proposal, 45 to 54 employees would work at the facility, which would house prisoners for up to 90 days..
When the prison on N.C. 711 closed late last summer, about 80 jobs were lost. An inmate labor force that saved local governments hundreds of thousands of dollars in labor costs was also lost, although inmates from Scotland County are now being transported to fill some of that void.
“This facility is good for Robeson County,” said Sen. Michael Walters, whose District 13 includes Robeson County. “It’s an opportunity to put jobs back in the county and use the state facilities that were closed.”
The Robeson County Correctional Center was a minimum security facility and housed a maximum of 304 male inmates. The prison held 276 inmates when it was closed.
The prison was closed because the state considered it to be in need of major repairs. Also, the state’s inmate population is decreasing, so fewer prisons are needed.
The proposal for the establishment of the Confinement in Response to Violation facility is now being considered in the House, according to Rep. Charles Graham of Lumberton, a member of the House Justice and Public Safety Committee.
“The state wants to keep the prison bed population down,” Graham said. “This is moving in the right direction to prevent recidivism. It goes along with the Justice Reinvestment Act concept of making programs available in the community to keep the rate of recidivism down and eliminate the need for so many prison beds.”
Graham said he believes the proposal to establish the facility in Robeson County will be approved by the House.
“It has the strong support of corrections officials,” he said.
According to the proposal, the standalone CRV would by the nearby Lumberton Correctional Center,which would provide such services as food and meals, medical care, and maintenance.
According to information supplied to Graham from the state Department of Public Safety, “During the CRV period … the offender is immersed into evidence-based programming to address faulty thinking patterns, which better prepares the offender for return to supervision and the community. The successful utilization of the CRV period along with other tools provided through the Justice Reinvestment Act are the keys to obtaining the desired positive outcomes eliminating the need for expanding prison beds and costly incarceration … while also providing a system where there is greater success by offenders for long-term behavior change.”