Some needed corrections for The NC Department of Corrections

dpslogoState Senator Thom Goolsby (R-Wilmington) has pointed out something that should have all Tar Heel State residents concerned:

There are 149 convicted criminals who are supposed to be serving their time in North Carolina prisons, but get to go home for weekend visits. These defendants have been convicted of every crime imaginable.  They include murderers given life sentences, at least one cop killer, kidnappers, drug traffickers, habitual felons, robbers and various violent criminals.

These convicted felons can sleep in their own beds or stay in a hotel, play golf, go to movies and eat out.. Their ranks include a number of notable criminals, including:  Raymond Cook, the former doctor who killed a ballerina in Raleigh while driving drunk; Lee Hatch and Chad Lee, two former lawyers who obstructed justice and altered numerous DWI court records in Johnston County; Cassie Johnson, confessed killer of Raleigh police Officer D.D. “Jimmy” Adams; Robert Pollard who executed a 17 year-old girl and a 23 year-old man, shooting each in the head and then dismembering and burning their bodies; Scott Quillen, convicted of murder and first-degree burglary, just to name a few. […]

The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys has picked up the ball and started running with it.  The group has shared its concerns in writing with Governor Pat McCrory.

If you think that’s bad — wait until you hear about what I learned during some recent professional interaction with the Department of Corrections.  As I’ve mentioned before, I teach at a number of area colleges.  I got asked to teach some courses to inmates at an area minimum security prison facility.  Most of the inmates there were in the final stages of their sentences. They were all within a handful of months or years of being released.

The course material included basic computer skills and business education — aimed at helping them become gainfully employed upon release.  Prison staff selected the inmates who could attend the courses.  I was told there would be strict attendance requirements.  Inmates were allowed to miss –or be late for — three classes.

I found out later that prison staff was telling inmates that attending my classes, and successfully completing them, would mean time shaved off of their sentences.  Going to class would mean going home earlier.  

Some of the guys would show up at the classroom, but would sleep through sessions.  As punishment, I would simply mark them as absent.  If you’re sleeping through class, you might as well be absent.  You also don’t deserve credit toward a reduced sentence.  

Prison staff got wind of what I was doing.  One senior administrator told me that I was to count sleeping inmates as present.  The staffer told me my actions were thwarting DOC’s efforts to get people out of the prison faster.  We have to avoid overcrowding — I was told. 

So, the state is paying to teach these guys societal re-entry skills — and the DOC could care less whether they attend class and pay attention, or sleep through it all.

Yet, we are now being told that prison facilities need to be closed because the prison population is DOWN.  We have too much prison space out there. 

Somebody with some common sense needs to step in and get the DOC whipped into shape.  It seems like there is more warehousing than correction going on at state prison facilities.