A Visit to the Burke CRV Center

Another stop on the recent North Carolina Judicial College Correctional Facilities Tour was the Burke CRV Center in Morganton. Today’s post shares what we learned about defendants ordered to serve 90 days of confinement in response to violation for a technical violation of probation or post-release supervision.

CRV Background. Confinement in response to violation (CRV) was created by the Justice Reinvestment Act as an alternative to revocation for violations of probation other than a new criminal offense or absconding. After two CRVs, a person can be revoked for any subsequent violation of probation. (Although did you know that less than 1 percent of felony prison entries are probation revocations after two CRVs? Like, it happened 7 times in 2018. There may be no single thing I have written and talked about more that has happened less.)

Anyway, as initially envisioned, CRV was significant for what it wasn’t—a revocation. It was designed to limit days of incarceration for technical violations, and to thereby reduce the prison population. Defendants ordered to complete CRV went to a regular prison, but just for a shorter time than they would have had they been completely revoked.

Over time, CRV has evolved from a mere shortened confinement period into a program. And that evolution was seen most clearly in the establishment of dedicated CRV centers, which I wrote about here when the centers opened for business in 2015.

Today, North Carolina has two CRV centers for men and one for women. The men’s centers are the Robeson CRV Center (192 beds) and the Burke CRV Center (248 beds). The Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice (DACJJ) is in the process of standing up the state’s lone CRV center for women (136 beds) at North Piedmont Correctional Center in Davidson County.

Eligible population. When a court commits a defendant to DACJJ for a CRV, the prison system will assign the defendant to a CRV center unless the person has pending charges for a Class E felony or higher, is serving a concurrent active sentence, or has medical or psychiatric issues that cannot be managed at the centers. The centers also house post-release supervisees whom the Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission has returned to prison for three months for technical violations of PRS (so-called “PR3” offenders).

Since January 1, 2016, DACJJ has not counted CRV center residents as prison inmates (even though they are committed to DACJJ by the courts or the Parole Commission). It’s a minor detail, but something to keep in mind if you’re evaluating prison population reductions or recidivist reincarceration rates after Justice Reinvestment.

A day in the life. Residents of the Burke CRV center sleep in large open dormitory rooms with rows of bunk beds. (It looked pretty similar to basic training, for those of you who have done that.) Meals are provided in an on-site dining facility. After breakfast, programming runs from about 8:00 a.m. to noon and then again from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. after lunch.

Programs. Programming at the CRV centers is run by GEO Reentry Services, which is part of the GEO Group, Inc. (NYSE: GEO), a Florida-based company specializing in privatized corrections. The main programs run by GEO include:

  • Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)—a cognitive behavioral program conducted in a group setting, designed to reduce criminal thinking and reinforce positive behaviors and habits.
  • Living in Balance—a substance abuse education program (not treatment).
  • Civil World/SKILLS—a set of computer-based training modules that teach life skills.
  • Getting It Right—an interactive journaling program that promotes positive life change.

Other programs include a career readiness certificate administered by Western Piedmont Community College, a class on sexually transmitted diseases offered by the Burke County Health Department, and a father accountability program led by CRV correctional staff.

Results. I’m no criminologist, but GEO has issued reports showing a reduction in criminal thinking by defendants who have completed their programming. You can read one such report here. It’s still too soon to have actual long-term recidivism data for defendants who have completed a CRV at a CRV center, but as time goes by the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission will surely include that in its reports.

The “terminal CRV” issue. As discussed here, terminal CRVs are those that wind up as the last action in a probation case—either because the probation period expires during the CRV, the CRV uses up the defendant’s remaining suspended sentence, or the judge affirmatively orders probation terminated upon the completion of the CRV even though time remains on the supervision period and suspended sentence. CRV center staff emphasized that terminal CRVs are not consistent with their core mission as an intervention for probationers who will return to supervision upon completion of the CRV. Defendants with no probation to return to have less incentive to participate in and complete programming, and they can be a disruption to others. About a third of all felony CRVs are terminal CRVs.

Jail credit. Since 2014, G.S. 15A-1344(d2) has prohibited a judge from applying any jail credit to a felony CRV. The purpose of that change, described here, was to ensure that defendants ordered to do a CRV would be there long enough to complete their programming. Despite that change, defendants ordered to serve a 90-day CRV arrive at the CRV center with, on average, 72 days left to serve. That’s not because of pre-hearing jail credit, but rather due to the delay in getting the person from the county to the CRV center after the hearing. There’s not really anything the court system can do about it, but I am occasionally asked when the 90 days start—on the day the CRV is ordered or on the day the person arrives at the CRV center—and I just wanted to pass along that it’s the former.

Thank you to the CRV center staff who hosted our visit. We enjoyed learning about the program and hearing from two resident defendants, both of whom spoke positively about their experience. The Judicial College will coordinate additional visits in the future.

One comment on “A Visit to the Burke CRV Center

  1. “GEO has issued reports showing a reduction in criminal thinking by defendants who have completed their programming.”

    I read GEO’s report and I didn’t see any description of the methodology they used to determine what the inmates were thinking. Do you supposed they just asked them? If so, then how do they know if the inmates thinking actually changed, or if they just learned how to answer the questions to satisfy those (GEO) who were asking them?

    Call me cynical if you want, but I’m just really suspicious of the validity of GEO’s claims.

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