In 2011, state lawmakers noticed a discrepancy in North Carolina’s correctional facilities: crime was going down, but the prison population was booming. The culprit? The state’s probation laws.
More than half of prison admissions were because of probation violations. And many of those were minor offenses. In a rare bipartisan move, the General Assembly rewrote the rules.
Since then, fewer people are in prison, fewer people are going back to prison, and costs are down.
A recent report from the nonpartisan group Council of State Governments Justice Center, which advised the state as it created the law, says North Carolina's prison admissions have dropped by 21 percent since 2011.
But while the Justice Reinvestment Act toughened probation rules for some offenders, it eased them for others.
Host Frank Stasio talks with New York Times reporter Erik Eckholm about his recent article on the effects of North Carolina's new probation system.