Proposed Changes to Sentencing Laws

With the growing prison population and the shrinking budget, there’s some talk of changes to North Carolina’s sentencing laws. An article in the paper last week made general reference to sentencing alternatives proposed by the Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission. I thought people might be interested in knowing a little more about the specifics of those proposals.

In 2001, the General Assembly asked the Sentencing Commission to “study and review the State’s sentencing laws in view of the projected growth in the prison population by 2010” and “develop alternatives that appropriately penalize offenders . . . while identifying inconsistencies in the structured sentencing law or in its application.” S.L. 2001-424. The alternatives set out in the report included:

  • Punishing habitual felons three classes higher than the offense classification of the substantive offense, but in no case higher than Class C.
  • Including defendants with one or perhaps two prior record points in Prior Record Level I.
  • Making the increase in sentence lengths between prior record levels proportionate by using a set percentage increment (15%).
  • Reallocating three months from the minimum sentences of Class B1 through E felonies to the maximum, while increasing the period of post release supervision from nine months to twelve months.

At the time they were proposed, the alternatives would have resulted in about 5,500 fewer prison beds needed in the 10 years after enactment. I’m not sure how many beds they would save if enacted today, but it appears they alone wouldn’t quite bridge the projected shortfall of about 7,000 beds by 2018.

I’m curious to know what people think of the proposed alternatives. There are those who say you can’t build your way out of a prison bed shortage, and tinkering with the grid is a political football. We already started to see a limited reemergence of parole last year, with new early release programs for the terminally ill and disabled and for certain deportable inmates. Let us know what you think.

5 thoughts on “Proposed Changes to Sentencing Laws”

  1. I do not have a comment, but I do have a question. Are there any changes on the horizon for the “felony murder rule”?

  2. i think the 50 50 law should be back for inmates and families or at let them do 65 precent of time box car there sentence if they have more than one pls help the families and inmates that come out to be a better person .if u diagree we all should have to do 2 days in there and see what it is like you would change yr mind help get one of these laws enforce so come on ppl lets do this

  3. I think they should go back to the old law before Early got this structured sentencing. At least then inmates would have a reason to work & stay out of troube while doing time

  4. 2017,Feb.. I have a very good friend in prison now, whom was sentenced very badly, He is a level IV. but got put on a level VI, sentencing. I have been trying to get this straighten out on my own, without the use of a lawyer. But all I get is the run around at the courthouse. No one will talk to me regarding what took place with this persons sentencing, just gives me the feeling that they know they messed up and are trying to hide something. So I am at a stand still, the inmate has written out his own request for another hearing, I do know it is in the DA’s hands, but still nothing is being done to help this young man. I am working with him on a 12 step program, with his drug addiction problem, he has been sober for 21 months, and he has the wiliness to continue with staying sober, for the first time in many years. We have set goals for him to follow, and he is doing very well. He has connected with his family, Continuing going to his NA classes, going to Ethic classes, working all the time while in prison, using his time wisely, He will be up for honor grade in May, so he can go onto work release program, He does bible study, learning to control is attitude, It is time for him to be given the chances to prove he has changed. He has come up with the goal to move out of his current state, and start all over in another state, to have the chance to prove to everyone that he can do this. He was sentenced 5 to 7 years, on the assumption that he was a level v1 6 instead of iv.. Is their anyone out their that can help this young man and me. If their is please contact me at


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