What North Carolina’s New State Budget Means for Justice and Public Safety
North Carolina has a duty to ensure that our communities are safe both through maintaining law and order and providing at-risk children and adults, including ex-offenders, with an opportunity to get their lives back on track.
This year, legislators in Raleigh voted to cut more than $150 million annually from our Justice and Public Safety budget, which includes our state court system, Corrections, Juvenile Justice, and other statewide public safety initiatives.
Total Reduction to Justice and Public Safety: $166 million in FY 12; $159 million in FY13 (does not include the transfer of Highway Patrol to General Fund from Highway Fund).
What it Means for Drug Treatment and Prevention Programs:
The budget eliminates Drug Treatment Court and Sentencing Services, and it puts Family Court on Continuation Review.
- More people convicted of minor, non-violent offenses will end up in prison and without treatment for chronic problems.
- The reduction to Sentencing Services will likely increase recidivism for ex-offenders who have less guidance and fewer options coming out of prison.
- The budget will eliminate two youth detention centers (YDCs) and several educator positions in the YDCs. This means that YDCs will be more crowded and the committed youth less educated. More youth will recidivate and crime will increase.
- The budget eliminates 39 court counselor positions. Court counselors work with youth in the Juvenile Justice system to ensure that they get an education and stay out of trouble. Again, more youth will recidivate and crime will increase.
What It Means for Indigent Defense Services:
The budget cuts $10.5 million from the Private Assigned Counsel fund, which will require a reduction in the reimbursement rate for Indigent Defense Service attorneys.
Fewer attorneys will be willing to serve indigent clients, which could result in ineffective representation for low-income people charged with crimes. Innocent people will likely go to prison and many guilty verdicts could be overturned due to lack of adequate representation.
What It Means for Juvenile Justice:
The budget cut the Department of Juvenile Justice by over $20 million in FY12 and FY13.
This was a choice: By maintaining the temporary tax package, which included the penny sales tax increase and a surcharge on high-income households and companies, or by including long-term revenue solutions in their budget, all of these cuts to education could have been avoided.