Probation

An image of a jail cell
AlexVan / pixabay Creative Commons

North Carolina is changing its job screening process for correctional officers. Now, only a fraction of applicants will have face-to-face psychological interviews. Prison officials say the change will save money and help hire officers more quickly to fill vacancies. Critics say eliminating the interview is a dangerous move.

Image of three growingchange.org participants harvesting food.
Noran Sanford

Cody Oxendine grew up in a small town in North Carolina dominated by gangs. He joined a gang at a young age and his activities landed him in juvenile court for two counts of simple assault. Three years ago, he was on probation and doing everything in his power to avoid prison. Now, 18-year-old Cody is thrilled to spend a lot of his time at one particular prison.

Oxendine is part of a group of youth leading an effort to flip an abandoned prison in Wagram, North Carolina into a sustainable farm.

Concertina wire surrounding a prison
Kate Ter Harr / Flickr Creative Commons

    

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.