Most employees working at one of the five prisons state legislators ordered to be closed have found other jobs in the N.C. Department of Public Safety, the agency reported Thursday.
In all, 481 workers were transferred to new jobs – not necessarily near their homes, however. Another 61 people couldn’t be placed and were let go, and 18 retired or resigned.
In all, 687 positions were eliminated, including more than 120 vacant positions, when the five prisons were closed by the General Assembly’s budget for this year and next.
The prison population has been shrinking across the state, from a high of 41,357 in June 2011 to 37,204 now.
There are fewer prisoners for several reasons: North Carolina’s population growth rate is slowing down, especially for males 16 to 24, who are the most likely to get arrested. Crime is also going down across the country.
But the main reason North Carolina’s prison population is declining is because the state has implemented a massive revision of its sentencing laws in order to keep as many offenders as possible out of prison through closer supervision and treatment in their communities.
The public safety agency reported Thursday that all five prisons have now been closed: Duplin Correctional Center in Kenansville, Robeson Correctional Center in Lumberton, Bladen Correctional Center in White Lake, Wayne Correctional Center in Goldsboro and Western Youth Institution in Morganton.
Also, the Johnston Correctional Institution in Smithfield has cut its workforce by 62 positions as it prepares to convert from a medium-custody facility to minimum custody. All of those employees have transferred to jobs at nearby prisons, the agency says.