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NC Habitual Felon Law Prison Costs: $1.5 Billion

June 7, 2009 10:26:11 am
Comments (6)

Under North Carolina's habitual-felon law, a three-time criminal who breaks into a parking meter or has a crack pipe with cocaine residue can be sentenced as if he were a rapist. It is expensive, reports the Raleigh News & Observer: The longer sentences add an average of$195,000 in prison costs for each habitual felon, a News & Observer analysis shows. Since the law took effect in 1994, taxpayers have committed an additional $1.5 billion to house habitual felons -- and an additional $264 million to build prisons for them.

District attorneys and sheriffs have killed all attempts to change it by painting opponents as coddlers of criminals, said former Rep. Joe Kiser, a Republican and the former sheriff of Lincoln County. Changing the law would bring gradual but significant savings. If the state stopped sentencing people to eight to 10 years for low-level offenses, it would save roughly $5 million in the first year. The savings would compound each year, saving the state a total of $190 million after five years. Since the law was passed 15 years ago, the prison population has grown steadily, from 27,052 in 1995 to more than 41,000 in 2009.

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Posted by tammy
Friday, October 22, 2010 04:28

i totally agree my brother is effected he was charged hitiual felon for a failure to appear on a fellony case. that is just not right we must fight this law

Posted by S ROBINSON
Thursday, June 17, 2010 11:39

I can anyone say this is a blessing for God. Grace and mercy have already paid price for all of felonies, and justice will prevail at the end. However, the habitual felony law is a law that needs to carefully reviewed and changed. Some who as already served time for the same crime( drug posession) is only serving time for the same crime committed. It is called double jeopardy. Some who maybe leaving in an abandoned home because he or she is homeless and has past felonies, police officers find the person and as they raised them they see a crack pipe and crack rocks that cannot be weighed on a scale. However, because of their past they are consider a menace to society, when in fact they need help. Some may know where to go for help, and some may beyond help. Nevertheless, sentencing them with a long sentence for non-violent is only prolinging the help that they need. Reducing or eliminating the time for a habitual felony is not being soft on crime it just evaluating that justice should fiit the crime. There are many felonies who have changed their lives around after being caught the three time for the same felony. However, by time their court date comes around the lawmakers have already made their decisons. Not looking to see if this person has changed their lives, lawmakers do not walk the street to see how real life is for someone who is struggling, lawmakers are needed but they also need to realistic and look a whole picture. That means walking the street of a drug user and see how hard life is to stay keep.

Posted by shelia
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 08:12

i agree my brother-in-law kicked a mans door in and killed him leaving a 6 yr old without a father only getting 3 yrs when he has two small kids of his on and there is my brother goes into an open building and they offer him 19 yrs yes 19yers he was sentenced in the yr 2000 as a habitual felony now they are charging him again with a habitual again he as asked for help for drugs but cant get help so do know of any where that my brother can get help by the way he was burned very bad as a child and can only do very little work

Posted by Anne
Sunday, August 16, 2009 12:25

I understand perfectly what you are saying. However, if you are caring for the children of what you consider a low level drug criminal, it is God’s Blessing to know that eventually they will be put away long enough for the children to grow up safe from that part of their innocent lives.

Posted by Amber Leigh
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 11:45

The habitual felon statue is a joke. Most people that are sentence with a habitual are drug offenders who are going to go to prison and get out and do that same thing. The prison system is no place for rehabilitation but institutionalization. Putting are tax dollars toward drug rehabilitation that are mandatory instead of putting them in prison seems a lot better for everyone. Hopefully, many will get help and the justice system will no longer have to worry about them. It’ll be an opportunity for someone to put their life back together instead of casting them off. People need an actual chance instead of being told they are of no value to our society.

Posted by Jaquina Taylor
Tuesday, June 30, 2009 07:47

I believe that the habitual felony law is unjust, cruel and unfair behavior. If we look at statistic, you will find that more African American men are effected by this law than any other race. If law officials and Representatives would see that they wouldn’t be seen as soft on crime, but rather showing that they really care about what happens to the citizens of North Carolina. If we continue on this tight budget crisis we are on, we will be seeing way more career criminals. They will be seeking out some opportunities or ways to make “ends meet” whether its selling illegal drugs, stealing or any other petty crime. So I see it as a means to an ends for the State of North Carolina, revamping the laws to find another way to punish low level repeat offenders rather than taking away more tax dollars that could go toward other things like stopping so many cuts with the school budgets and stop job lay offs of state employees. Maybe, we should vote to cut the number of Senators, Representatives and other elected State officials we have to cut their jobs temporarily to see how they deal with the no job situation and see if they would rethink, taking up all this state’s money to house criminals for 8 years for having less than 1/10 of a gram of cocaine! Then let’s see will some of the law makers have a change of heart on the habitual felony law.

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