Handbook for Family and Friends of Offenders

Inmates and families

Helpful Information

  • General Information - call the prison where your relative or friend is housed.
  • Specific Offender Information - contact the offender’s case manager at the prison.
  • The prison chaplain or designated religious services staff can help you.
  • Always follow the prison rules where your relative or friend is housed.
Find more information here or call 1-800-368-1985 or 919-838-4000.

Printable Handbook (pdf)

Tab/Accordion Items


Every offender is a part of a family. Incarceration is often a difficult time not only for the offenders, but also for their family and friends. It can be overwhelming for family and friends in the separation and in understanding the rules and regulations that govern prisons operated by the state of North Carolina through the Department of Adult Correction. This handbook may not answer all of your questions, but we hope the general information it contains about the North Carolina prison system will help you during this difficult time.

Please take the time to read this handbook and remember that it is for informational purposes only. Rules and regulations outlined in this book are subject to change and standard operation procedures can vary among prison facilities. DPS policies and procedures are reviewed and updated from time to time, as are state laws that affect prison operations.


What are the Department of Adult Correction and the Division of Prisons?

In January 2023, the state created a new Cabinet-level agency: the N.C. Department of Adult Correction. NCDAC combined the Division of Prisons and the Division of Community Corrections (probation and parole), which had been housed within the Department of Public Safety. The new, standalone DAC consists of the Division of Prisons, the renamed Division of Community Supervision (probation/parole) and a Division of Rehabilitation and Re-entry, which reflects the importance DAC places on preparing offenders for rejoining their communities once they have served their time. There are also divisions of DAC for Adminsitration, Comprehensive Health Services and Support Services, among others, that work to support the operations of the correctional institutions, the probabtion/parole system and rehabilitation/re-entry programs.

The mission of the Department of Adult CorrectionDivision of Prisons is to promote public safety by the administration of a fair and humane system that provides reasonable opportunities for adjudicated offenders to develop progressively responsible behavior.

DAC operates 55 correctional facilities located throughout the state. The prisons house more than 30,000 offenders. Prisons receive all felons and some misdemeanants sentenced by a court to a period of active incarceration.

Does the Department of Adult Correction send people to prison?

Except for short periods of time for certain probation violations, DAC does not send offenders to prison and never determines their sentences. The courts determine whether an individual goes to prison and how long the offender will be in prison. By law, DAC carries out the sentences ordered by the courts. Any change in an offender’s sentence is determined and ordered by the courts, not by DAC.

What happens between the time an offender is sentenced to spend time in prison and is transported to a prison?

Arrival to prison to begin serving a sentence often presents a very difficult time for new offenders and their family and friends.

Most often, the offender will initially be housed in the jail of the county in which the offender was convicted. The N.C. Department ofAdult Correction will schedule a time to pick up and transport the offender from the jail to a diagnostic facility for entrance into the state prison system.

When are offenders transported to prison?

For the security of the offender and the public, information about the day an offender will be transferred to a prison (usually from a county jail) and the name of the prison are not disclosed until after the offender has arrived at the prison.

What happens when an offender first gets to prison?

When an offender is sentenced to prison depending on the type of law violated and the offender’s age and gender they are first sent to one of the six prisons that have a diagnostic center. Diagnostic centers evaluate the offenders’ physical and mental health, temperament, education and family, work and criminal histories. The information is placed into the offender’s prison records.

Evaluation of offenders at the diagnostic prisons is also known as processing. Four to six weeks may elapse before processing is completed and the offender is classified and sent to another prison. In addition to the processing evaluation and classification, offenders are tested and interviewed to determine the offender’s interests and abilities, which is information used in making recommendations for future job and program assignments in prison. Counseling is provided to assist the offender in making an adequate adjustment to prison.
An offender orientation program explains rules, penalties, disciplinary procedures and how to obtain health services. A description of the offender’s current situation and a summary of available programs and work assignments are also provided to the offender.

Based on this information, the offender is assigned to the most appropriate custody classification and prison facility when they leave the diagnostic facility.

When is information available about an offender’s sentence and the amount of time the offender will be incarcerated?

An offender’s sentence is public record. It is filed in the office of the Clerk of Court in the county where the offender was convicted and sentenced. The Clerk of Court will have that information before DAC will.

The sentence does not state the date when an offender’s incarceration will end. The sentencing court will send a file of information about the sentence to DAC, and it will be placed into the offender’s records file. One of the ways DAC uses that information is to estimate a date when an offender will be eligible for release. It is known as a projected release date, and it can change based on several factors, including the offender’s behavior. Generally, four to six weeks are needed to make an initial projection of a date for release. DAC can provide information about the offender’s sentence at that time.

Information from the courts, along with other information compiled by DAC, is also used in determining an offender’s security classification for prison.

Are offenders allowed to keep their clothes and other personal items they have when they enter prison?

The Department of Adult Correction provides all of the offenders’ personal needs such as underwear, shoes, socks, pants, shirts, coats and hats, and basic toiletry items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Unauthorized personal items will be stored or disposed of according to DAC policy.

Personal items that a newly admitted offender may keep include:
•    Books and periodicals.
•    Eyeglasses and cases not made of metal.
•    Equipment for severe visual and hearing impairment.
•    Religious items (for example, medals and rosaries).
•    Certain jewelry, such as a wedding band (a personal watch is not included).
•    Unframed photographs not larger than 8x10 inches.
•    Wallets or clear pocketbooks.

Are there other personal items that an offender may obtain and keep?

Offenders are allowed certain personal items. The items and amounts of items allowed may vary from one prison facility to another because some prisons require more security and control. Also, personal items are limited due to fire safety codes, storage space availability, sanitation regulations and for security and safety reasons.

A list of items allowed may be available at the prison where the offender is housed. However, unauthorized items or excessive amounts of personal items are considered contraband and may be taken from the offender. These items may be mailed home or discarded.

Male Diagnostic Centers

Piedmont Correctional Institution
1245 Camp Road
Salisbury, NC 28147
Central Prison
3100 Western Blvd.
Raleigh, NC 27699-4285
Craven Correctional Institution
600 Alligator Road, P.O. Box 839
Vanceboro, NC 28586
Foothills Correctional Institution
5150 Western Blvd.
Morganton, NC 28655
Granville Correctional Institution
701 Stevens Mill Road
Butner, NC 27509-2500

Female Diagnostic Center

North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women
1034 Bragg St.
Raleigh, NC 27699-4287


Classification is a determination of how much security will be needed to ensure offenders remain safely confined and/or managed. The custody classification level depends on the seriousness of the crime, the willingness of the offender to obey rules and regulations and perceived potential for attempting escape.

Each prison is operated on one or more custody levels:

CLOSE CUSTODY is for offenders who need extra security and are under armed constant supervision. Close custody offenders are housed in single-cell housing units that have a dayroom with televisions, and showers are in the cell block. Case management, work assignments, basic education, counseling and other programs are available to offenders in close custody.

close custody cell block

MEDIUM CUSTODY is less restrictive than close custody, although offenders are under armed constant supervision. Medium custody prisons have all programs and activities operating within the unit. Medium custody offenders are housed in dormitory-style housing units that have bunk beds and a dayroom close by where offenders can watch TV, play board games and work on program/education assignments. Programs, services and activities include academic and vocational education, substance abuse treatment, psychological and self-improvement programs, varied work assignments, as well as case management services. 
MINIMUM CUSTODY is the least restrictive and has the most privileges of the custody grades. Minimum custody offenders are housed in the same manner as medium custody offenders. Offenders who have been promoted to minimum custody must be within five years (60 months) of their release date.

Offenders may be reviewed and approved for offsite work and program assignments if they meet the minimum policy requirements.

Offenders convicted of felony crimes, under certain conditions, can be considered for promotion to minimum custody once they are within 60 months of release or within 60 months of their parole eligibility date.

All offenders undergo routine custody reviews that determine if their custody is appropriately assigned. Progression (promotion) to a less restrictive custody grade is a privilege granted to offenders who obey rules and meet other requirements.minimum custody cell block

Other factors are also taken into consideration, including pending charges, physical and mental health needs, risk to the community, risk to other offenders and staff, number and nature of infractions and amount of time since the offender’s last infraction. Remember, eligibility for promotion does not guarantee promotion.
Are there other types of classification assignments?

Most offenders are assigned to regular population, which means they may move about the prison facility as needed due to their job or program assignment, for recreation and for mealtime with other offenders. In addition to the various custody levels, offenders may be assigned to restrictive housing, where offenders are separated from the regular population.

These assignments include:

  • Restrictive Housing for Administrative Purposes (RHAP)
    This housing assignment temporarily removes an offender from the regular population and places them in a single cell on a short-term basis to protect staff and other offenders, preserve order, provide control or protection of the offender pending final classification or disciplinary action, or to remove the offender from regular population as a “cooling off” period.
  • Restrictive Housing for Disciplinary Purposes (RHDP)
    This housing assignment is for offenders who are subject to punishment, in accordance with Prisons’ authorized disciplinary procedures, after being found guilty of a disciplinary offense.
  • Restrictive Housing for Control Purposes (RHCP)
    This housing assignment is for offenders who have shown disruptive behavior through disciplinary offenses, assaultive actions or those who are so continuously a disruptive influence on the operation of the facility to the extent that additional structure and management by prison authorities are required.
  • High Security Maximum Control
    This classification status is for offenders who pose the most serious threat to the safety of staff, other offenders and to the security of a prison. Offenders assigned to this control status require more security than can be given in RHCP.
  • Protective Control
    This housing assignment is when the offender is separated from the regular population when their lives or well-being may be threatened by staying in the regular population.

Restrictive Housing for Control Purposes, High Security Maximum Control and Protective Control statuses require that an offender meet with a special classification committee known as the Director’s Classification Committee (DCC). Offenders in these statuses must go before the DCC every six months to determine appropriate housing needs.

Does North Carolina have the death penalty?close up of cell door

Yes. Offenders sentenced to DAC custody under a death order commitment are housed in a secure area that is separate from the regular population. Central Prison and North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women are authorized to house death row offenders.

** On August 1, 2023, the NCDAC began partnering with ViaPath to offer Offender Trust Payment services. NCDAC will no longer partner with JPay for these services. Notices have been sent to all friends and family members who currently have either a Connect Network and/or Getting Out account. 

Visit "Send Money to an Offender" for more information - https://www.dac.nc.gov/divisions-and-sections/prisons/send-money-offender

Are offenders allowed to have money in prison?

Each offender has a personal account called a Trust Fund Account. Offenders can have money deposited into their account only by someone on his/her approved visitation list. 

Offenders may request a special draw to send money home or for other needs. The prison warden must approve a special draw.

Visit "Send Money to an Offender" for more information on how to send money - https://www.dac.nc.gov/divisions-and-sections/prisons/send-money-offender


May offenders buy personal items?

All prisons operate a cashless canteen where offenders buy items such as hygiene products, snack foods, soft drinks, watches, radios and stamps. Offenders are not allowed to have cash or coins on their person. Spending limits from their Prisons trust fund account are $45 (Close Custody), $60 (Medium Custody) and $75 (Minimum Custody). Prisons will provide basic hygiene items for offenders who do not have the monies to purchase them.

Can offenders receive phone calls while in prison?

Offenders are not allowed to receive telephone calls, except under extraordinary circumstances approved by the prison warden. Family members and friends may call the prison to speak to members of the staff, such as case managers.

Offenders are allowed to make telephone calls through a system operated by ViaPath, a company that has a contract with DAC. The system allows offenders to make phone calls to people who have set up an account to pay for the cost of the calls.

To set up an account, contact the ViaPath Customer Service Center at 1-866-230-7761. Multiple payment methods are available.

Can offenders use email?

No. Email requires internet access, which offenders are not allowed to have.

Offenders do have access to electronic tablets that have a phone/text app. ViaPath is also the vendor for electronic talets and phone/text service. As with telephone calls, you must be on the offender's approved visitation list to send/receive a text to or from an offender. 

How do offenders send and receive email?

Effective Oct. 18, 2021, Prisons has changed the way offenders receive mail. A company called TextBehind will process all incoming offender mail. Family and friends have a choice of:

  • continuing to send paper mail, but to a new address,
  • or sending mail to the offender's tablet with an app by computer or smartphone.

More information about TextBehind is available at their website, including a brief video and instructions for how to download the app and set up an account.

To send paper mail, you must address the envelope this way, or it will be returned:

                Offender Name and OPUS Number

                Prison Name (do not abbreviate)

                P.O. Box 247

               Phoenix, MD 21131


              John Smith #1234567

              Maury Correctional Institution

              P.O. Box 247

              Phoenix, MD 21131

NOTE: Please include a return address on the upper-left corner fo the envelope that includes the sender's first and last names. TextBehidn will return unopened all letters that lack a return address or have an incomplete one.

One of the most important ways to communicate with the offender is through letters, and Adult Correction facilities encourage family and friends to write.

For security reasons, all incoming mail will be checked to see if it contains any illegal or unauthorized items. Outgoing mail from offenders may also be checked. Personal letters will not be read unless the officer-in-charge or designee has reason to believe that the letter contains threats of harm or criminal activity, escape plans or plans to violate prison rules. If the officer-in-charge decides to delay or not deliver the letter to the offender, the offender will be told in writing the reason for this action.

Incoming mail from lawyers, any legal aid service assisting offenders and state and federal court officials must be opened in the presence of the offender before it is checked for illegal or unauthorized items.

Offenders who have no money and are determined indigent will be provided up to 10 stamps per month for 1-ounce personal letters. This stamp limit does not apply to mail relating to legal matters.

Are offenders allowed to have postage stamps?

Offenders may buy their own stamps from the prison canteen. An offender can have no more than 25 postage stamps at a time.

If an offender is found to have more than 25, the excess stamps will go into a facility safe and be used to mail letters for indigent offenders.

Note: Offenders are not allowed to receive stamps through the mail.
Are offenders allowed to receive packages/other items through the mail?

A limited number of items can be sent to an offender through the mail. No “cash on delivery” packages will be accepted. All packages are always subject to inspection.

Items that an offender may receive through the mail are:

  • Clothing approved for use by an offender who has been granted community-based privileges
  • Clothing to be used upon release, if received within 15 days of release date
  • Unframed photographs no larger than 8 inches by 10 inches
  • Legal papers
  • Pre-approved publications
  • Pre-approved religious items

Approved items may vary from one prison to another due to the security level of the facility. Contact the prison where the offender is housed before mailing anything.

Where can I get general information about an offender?

You may call the prison where the offender is housed and speak with the case manager assigned to that offender. Prison phone numbers are listed at the back of the handbook and on the DAC website.

For mroe information about a specific offender, such as current location or projected release date, the DAC website has a lookup feature that provides publicly available information. It is searchable by name, by offender number, birthdate and other factors. To access the locator from the DAC homepage, scroll down to Connect with NCDAC, and click on Offender search. From the link, click on Offender Public Information Search/Offender Locator.

You may also go directly to the offender locator.

General information about offenders and the prison system is also available at 1-800-368-1985, or 919-838-4000.

Visitation means that someone from outside the prison is allowed inside to see and speak with an offender. For security reasons, visitation is controlled to protect the prison staff, offenders and the public, including families and friends.

Visitation by family and friends is encouraged and can make a positive difference during an offender’s incarceration. DAC understands the importance of offenders maintaining contact with their family and friends. However, offenders are not assigned to specific prisons for the purpose of making visitation easier. It is important to remember that because visitation is a privilege, and it can be restricted for offenders and visitors who violate the rules.

What is the application process for visitation?

Offenders choose whom they want to have as visitors, request official visitation applications and mail them to potential visitors. In applying to be placed on an offender’s visitation list, a potential visitor should:

  • Read and understand the instructions and rules that are with the application.
  • Submit an original application. Copies of the form are not allowed.
  • Fully complete the application.
  • Include a copy of their ID (for example, a driver license).
  • Mail the application to the visitation office at the prison where the offender is housed.
  • Not send the application to the offender. Applications are not accepted from offenders. An offender should include the prison name and address when sending the application to a potential visitor.
  • For the address, call the prison or check the Prison Facilities page on the DAC website.

Offenders can have visitors only after the visitors’ applications have been approved by prison officials.
The offender will be notified whether a visitor’s application has been approved. The offender is responsible for notifying a potential visitor whether the application was approved.

An application must be completed for each potential visitor, whether the person is an adult or a child.

A visitation list remains active when an offender transfers to a different facility.

Offenders have the right to remove visitors from their lists at any time. The open visitor slot can be refilled during open visitor enrollment. Open enrollment is every six months based on the date when the offender was admitted to prison. (For example, the open enrollment periods for an offender admitted to prison in January are January and July.)

Offenders can have a maximum of 18 approved visitors. If an offender has a full list and wants to add a new visitor during open enrollment, the offender must first remove a current approved visitor from the list.

What type of identification is required to visit?

Types of identification that are accepted for visitors are:
    • Valid state-issued driver’s license
    • State ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles
    • Military ID or passport
    • Birth certificate for minors (age 15 or less)

The same type of picture ID submitted with an application will be required for entry upon a visit.

Each applicant at least 16 years old must choose one of the approved picture IDs and attach a copy to the application.

Minors (less than age 16) must have a copy of their birth certificate attached to the application.
An application for a minor under 16 must be updated upon the minor reaching 16 to include a copy of a photo ID.

What are the visitation times and who can visit?

Visitation days and hours are established by each prison.

Visitation will not occur on holidays.

Normally, offenders will be allowed no more than one visiting session a week that does not last more than two hours. Generally, no more than three approved visitors may visit during the visiting session.

Minors younger than 18 must be on the offender’s approved visitation list. Minors must be accompanied by an adult and supervised at all times during the visit.

Many facilities have weekend visitation, but hours vary from prison to prison. Contact the specific prison to ask about visiting times. Many facilities offer weekday visitation by appointment only. Long lines and waiting may occur for weekend visitation.

Only immediate family members or those who have acted as immediate family, clergy, legal, law enforcement, family or juvenile services officials, or consular officials will be approved for visitation with more than one offender.

Violations of visiting privileges may result in disciplinary action against the offender and appropriate administrative or legal actions against the visitor.

What are possible reasons for denying a visitor’s application?

Grounds for disapproving a visitor application MAY be:
    • Incorrect information on the application.
    • The application was not complete or did not include proper attachments.
Some exceptions may be made for immediate family members regarding these rules for disapproving a visitor application:
    • The visitor has a prior criminal record.
    • The visitor was a participant in the criminal activity for which the offender is incarcerated.
    • The visitor is a former offender who has not been released for a minimum of 12 months.
    • The visitor is on probation/parole, on supervised release or has not been off probation or supervised release for a minimum of six months.

Does visitation have a dress code?

Visitors must dress appropriately. The dress code will be strictly enforced. It will be the offender’s responsibility to communicate these standards to his/her visitors.

These clothing requirements for visitors are in effect at all facilities:

  • Shirts and shoes are mandatory.
  • Halter tops, bare midriffs, strapless tops, tube tops, bodysuits, underwear-type T-shirts, tank tops, sleeveless shirts or dresses that are inappropriately revealing, fishnet shirts, or any type of shirt or pants made with see-through fabric are NOT allowed to be worn by any visitor (male or female). A sleeveless shirt or dress is considered inappropriately revealing when a female breast or lingerie can be seen.
  • Visitors may wear Bermuda-length shorts provided they are not more than three inches above the kneecap.
  • Females may wear dresses or skirts. Dresses or skirts may not be more than three inches above the kneecap. Slits in skirts and dresses may not be more than three inches above the kneecap. Dresses and skirts for pre- teens may be shorter than three inches above the kneecap.
  • Any shirt or other articles of clothing will not be allowed if it has a picture or language that may be considered profane or offensive by current public standards, Adult Correction standards or is related to a Security Risk Group (gang).
  • Wave caps, doo rags and bandanas are not allowed.
  • Slacks and pants are to be worn at or above the waist.
  • Spandex clothing is prohibited.

Questions concerning the Prison Visitation Policy/Procedure (D.0200) should be directed to the head of the prison where the offender is housed.

Can visitors be searched?

Anyone entering a prison is subject to a routine search of their person or personal items upon entering or leaving the prison facility, or at any time while at the prison. Dogs may be used to search vehicles, property and persons.

All visitors ages 16 or older shall receive a routine search (pat/frisk) upon entry to a facility. Female correctional officers may conduct routine searches on either female or male visitors. Male correctional officers shall conduct routine searches on male visitors only. When visitors are suspected of carrying contraband, the officer in charge is authorized to request the assistance of local law enforcement provided that such assistance results in a routine search by an officer of the same sex.

Visitors may refuse to be searched. In that case, entry to the prison will be denied and visiting privileges may be permanently suspended.

Offenders are searched before and after each visit.

Everyone entering a medium or close custody facility must be processed by passing through metal detection (walk-through, handheld and/or both). Anyone who does not clear metal detection will not be allowed into the facility and will be immediately reported to the facility head or designee.

Any visitor with a medical prosthesis or device that may alert metal detection must provide medical documentation from a doctor (such as a Pacemaker Identification Card) of the medical item in question.

What items can be brought in at visitation?

For security reasons, items allowed into the prison during visitation are limited. Weapons, alcohol and drugs are illegal on prison property.

Prohibited items are considered contraband.

It is a felony for anyone to deliver drugs or cell phones to an offender or bring any illegal drugs onto prison property.
Visitors who attempt to deliver or transport drugs onto prison property or deliver a cell phone to an offender will have their visiting privileges permanently revoked and be subject to arrest and prosecution.

It is a misdemeanor for a visitor to deliver tobacco to an offender. Adult Correction facilities policy prohibits visitors from having tobacco in their possession while within the confines of a prison. A violation of the rules about tobacco will result in revocation of visiting privileges.

Such personal items as handbags, briefcases, diaper bags, cameras, recording devices, music boxes, cell phones and pagers must remain outside the prison during visitation.

Contact the prison if you have any questions about what may be taken into a prison.

Are visits allowed outside regular visiting hours?

Special visits may be authorized by the prison warden when circumstances warrant the need for a visit to take place outside the regular visiting hours. Special visitors must be on the offender’s approved visitor list.

Prior approval can be obtained by calling or writing to the prison warden in advance of the desired visiting day.

May offenders in special conditions of confinement have visitors?

Special conditions of confinement are restrictive housing, death row, protective control, safekeepers and high security maximum control.

Visiting schedules are arranged by appointment only. Visitors must be on the offender’s approved visitation list.

Visits are limited to one hour. The officer in charge at the prison may change the visiting day, time and number of visits, or may suspend the visit.

Offenders in special conditions of confinement, high security maximum control, safekeepers and on death row customarily visit in the non-contact visiting area.

Offenders on protective control will generally be allowed contact visiting privileges in visiting areas where possible.

Offenders in disciplinary status will be allowed visits from attorneys, legal assistants and clergy. Personal visitation privileges may be limited consistent with security requirements.

Offenders validated as SRG level 2 (gang) will be allowed contact visits with approved immediate family members. Offenders validated as level 3 will be allowed non-contact visits with approved immediate family members. Offenders validated as security threat level 2 or 3 will not be allowed visits with individuals who are not immediate family members.

Regular population offenders may be restricted to non-contact visits based on behavior detrimental to the security of the institution. (i.e. drug/alcohol disciplinary convictions, refusal to submit drug/alcohol test, disciplinary convictions or misconduct during visitation).

What physical contact is allowed during a visit?

Physical contact during any visitation is limited. While it is understandable that it may be very difficult not to have physical contact with your family member or friend, the amount and type of contact must be limited. Inappropriate displays of affection or sexual activity are not allowed. If an individual does not follow the rules, the visit may be terminated and visitation privileges may be suspended.

The Department of Adult Correction does not allow conjugal visits (sexual contact).

Can visits be disapproved, suspended or terminated?

Yes. Visiting privileges can be disapproved, suspended/ restricted, or terminated for any of these reasons:

  • The visitor has caused problems during previous visits.
  • The visitor is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or has attempted to bring alcohol, drugs or contraband into the prison.
  • The visitor refuses to be searched.
  • The visitor does not have the proper identification.
  • The visitor took part in the crime for which the offender is in prison.
  • The visitor’s presence at the facility is considered a security risk or the visitor might create problems for the offender he or she wishes to see.
  • The visitor has had visitation privileges terminated indefinitely at another DPS prison.
  • The visitor is a minor not accompanied by an adult.
  • The visitor is a minor (age 17 or younger) and is a victim of the offender.
  • Not complying with regulations on visitation by former employees of the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.
  • Any other reason considered necessary by the prison warden.
Can an offender attend a funeral or visit a critically ill family member?

The Department of Adult Correction has an Emergency Leave Policy for offenders regarding in-state and out-of-state emergency leaves.

Emergency leaves may be given to offenders when a critical illness or death of an immediate family member has occurred. An immediate family member is considered to be father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife, child, grandparents, foster parents or other persons who have acted in the place of parents where such relationships can be verified.

Emergency leaves for in-state purposes may be granted for these reasons:

Critical illness of an immediate family member — The nature of the illness must be verified by a capable medical professional. The word “critical” means probable death within a short period of time. The birth of a child will not be considered a critical illness unless the doctor in charge determines the mother’s condition is not normal and unusual serious conditions are involved.

Death of an immediate family member — Verification of death of an immediate family member may be received from a law enforcement officer (sheriff or police chief), doctor, funeral director or director of Social Services.

The prison warden may approve emergency leave for minimum custody offenders and the offender may be given as much as a 24-hour leave. Minimum custody offenders may attend funerals or private viewings, including for grandparents.
Medium custody offenders are not eligible for emergency leave involving a grandparent unless the grandparent was the offender’s guardian or parent.
For security reasons, medium and close custody offenders will only be allowed to attend private viewings. Offenders on restrictive housing are not allowed to attend funerals or private viewings.

When prisons provide correctional officers to supervise the offender on emergency leave, the offender or the family is responsible for paying back the costs of the supervision at the following rate:
    • One correctional officer and one vehicle per day - $50
    • Two correctional officers and one vehicle per day - $100

Emergency leaves to go outside North Carolina for either critical illness or death of an immediate family member must be approved by the region director or his/her designee. Only minimum custody offenders are allowed to be considered for out-of-state emergency leaves. A cash bond of $500 must be posted with the prison warden and the offender must sign a waiver of extradition (Form DC-228).

Can an offender be transferred to a prison close to home?

Prisons recognizes that families like their incarcerated relatives to be housed close to home. Unfortunately, because of limited bed space, custody level, the offender’s program needs and other factors, transfers close to home may not be possible.

If an offender wants to transfer to another prison, the offender is responsible for writing a request to his or her case manager. However, the request does not guarantee that the transfer will be granted.

To be eligible to have a transfer request considered, offenders must have been in their current prison (after processing) for a minimum of 90 days and must be free of infractions.

Can an offender request to get married?

Yes. Marriage requests are reviewed and may be approved by the prison warden. All DAC requirements and legal requirements must be met to marry. Both the offender and fiancée must consent to the marriage in writing. If the offender or fiancée has been married before, a verified copy of the divorce papers must be submitted.

Custody or housing restrictions can make it difficult or impossible to complete the paperwork requirements. DAC does not assist offenders in meeting the legal requirements.

Facilities will not transport an offender from the confines of a prison for the purpose of obtaining a marriage license. When marriage requests are approved, the offender and fiancée can consult with a minister or religious counselor.

For more information, contact the chaplain or the facility administration at the prison where the offender is housed.

How does prison affect the children of offenders?

When a parent goes to prison, children are often confused and feel left out. Some feelings the children might have are loneliness, fear, anger, sadness and guilt. Their friends may also make fun of them.

Children need to have an adult to talk to about their feelings. They may act out these feelings in ways such as a poor grade in school, fighting, a lot of crying, having bad dreams or stopping participation in social activities. Children may develop physical changes such as complaining of headaches, illnesses or injuries.

These changes in behavior are cries for help and the child may need encouragement and support. It is also important to note that even children who were not living with the parent before the parent went to prison feel a lot of emotions.

Every child is unique, each family is different and each child within a family is different. However, it is important to tell the children the truth. It is scarier for them not to know. It is also important for the children to have contact with their parent who is in prison as much as possible through letters, telephone calls and visitation.

Other things you can do to help children deal with their parent being in prison:

  • Allow children to express their feelings. Respond to the feeling the child expresses. It is important not to tell the child what they should be feeling and not force them to talk about it.
  • Listen to a child’s words and actions. If a child says they miss mom or dad, that’s a good time to begin talking about their feelings. Also, if you see a change in behavior during special occasions such as Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, that is an opening for conversation. 
  • Talk to the child about the parent’s absence. For example, some children may feel better knowing that their parent is no longer in danger because they are not on the streets. Answer their questions honestly.
  • Help the child express his or her feelings in appropriate ways. Words and/or tears are a better way of expressing their feelings other than fighting, getting into trouble with the law, or using alcohol or drugs.
  • Support the child who can and wants to write his/her parent in prison, send pictures, or greeting cards
  • Prepare the child for a prison visit. If at all possible, make one or two visits alone before the child’s visit so you can tell the child what the prison looks like, where the visits take place, how long the visit will be, what the visitation rules are, etc. Help the child prepare for his or her parent’s release. This can also be especially important if the child will not be reunited with their incarcerated parents.
  • Outside support can often help the child and family. A favorite aunt or uncle, a teacher, social worker, church, a prison ministry group in your area or community programs such as the Big Brother/Big Sister Program can help.
Are there any books and other resources that can be helpful to parents and caregivers who care for children of offenders?

Here is a list of books and resources that may be helpful. Most of the books can be found online.

When Andy’s Father Went to Prison  by Martha Whitmore Hickman
Albert Whitman and Co., 5747 Howard Street, Niles, IL 60648-4012
ISBN #0-8075-8874-1

My Mother and I Are Growing Stronger  by Inez Maury
New Seed Press, PO Box 9488, Berkeley, CA 947099
ISBN #0-938678-06-X
An Inmate’s Daughter  by Jan Walker
Raven Publishing, Inc., PO Box 2866, Norris, MT 59745 ravenpublishing.net

I Didn’t Leave Because of You   by Tyechia White

Daddy, Can You Hear Me?    by Thomas O’Neal
Davidson Ultimate Joy Publications

What Will Happen to Me?   by Howard Zehr

Wish You Were Here: Teens Write About Parents in Prison   by Autum Spanne

Kofi’s Mom    by Richard Dyches

My Daddy’s In Jail    by Anthony Curcio
My Daddy Is In Jail: Guide & Activities   by Janet M. Bender

Visiting Day    by Jacqueline Woodson

Secret Saturdays    by Torrey Maldonado

Mama Loves Me From Far Away    by Pat Brisson

A Terrible Thing Happened    by Margaret M. Holmes

The Invisible String    by Patrice Karst

Oh No! When a Parent Goes Away    by Dakota King-White, Ph. D. HaloPublishing

Far Apart, Close in Heart    by Becky Birtha
Deena Misses Her Mom     (teen Author) by Jonae Haynesworth, Jesse Holmes, Layonnie Jones, Kahliya Ruffin

The Prison Alphabet – an Educational Coloring Book for Children of Incarcerated Parents    by Dr. Baheyyah Muhammad and Muntaquin Muhammad

Additional Resources

National Resource Center for Children and Families of the Incarcerated

National Fatherhood Initiative

Project Iron Kids books for children of the incarcerated projectironkids.com

Our Children’s Place of Coastal Horizons Center
P.O. Box 13073 Durham, NC 27709 919-904-4286 ourchildrensplace.com

Straight Talk Support Group – supporting families and friends of the incarcerated
3500 Westgate Drive
Durham, NC 27707

What programs are available to offenders?

Programs, services and activities for offenders are important to promoting personal growth and responsible behavior that will eventually make them contributing members of the community. Programs, services and activities vary at each prison. Briefly, the programs, services and activities are:

Case Management
Case management is a program of services provided to each offender in Adult Correction facilities. The correctional case manager works with the offender to help determine his or her needs, risks and interests to develop a correctional plan. How offenders spend their time in prison is determined by the programs and services outlined in their correctional plan and by their overall behavior. Case management provides the services and resources necessary to improve each offender’s well-being and promote law-abiding behavior.

Work Assignments
All offenders are expected to work during their stay in prison. The prisons have a variety of jobs to which offenders are assigned. Each prison depends on the offenders to operate the kitchen, to provide housekeeping and maintenance, provide labor to maintain state roads and do the many other tasks that support the prison and other governmental agencies.

Offender at work in the Correction Enterprises sewing plant at Tabor Correctional Institution.

Each offender who works receives time credit reductions from his or her sentence. They also receive an incentive wage in the amount of 40 cents, 70 cents or $1.25 per day, depending on the job they hold. Offenders working in Correction Enterprises or with the Offender Construction Program (OCP) can earn up to $3 a day.

Offenders working in the Prison Industry Enhancement program can earn a wage comparable to the prevailing wage in the local economy while working at a manufacturing operation inside the prison walls. Requiring offenders to work is an important part of prison life. It is an effort to teach good work habits and encourage offenders to work when they return to society.

Work Release
Work release is a program that allows selected minimum custody offenders the privilege of having a job in the community while being in prison and prepare them for their eventual release.

Offenders on work release leave the prison during the day and return after their workday is over.

Offenders on work release earn at least minimum wage, and from this wage they must pay a portion of the cost of being in prison. Also, they must pay support for their dependents, pay restitution or fines and pay taxes. Offenders on work release are usually approaching the end of their sentence.

Work release is a privilege and not every offender may obtain work release prior to his or her release. An offender on work release cannot have any contact with family members at the work release job site.    

Offenders have many opportunities to improve their education.

Programs are offered for offenders to work toward receiving Adult Basic Education, their High School Equivalency and/or to learn a vocational skill in a wide variety of areas.

Special programs are available to offenders who have learning disabilities or special needs. Day and evening education programs are offered so offenders can combine work and education.

Study Release
This program allows selected minimum custody offenders the privilege of furthering their education in a college setting within the community. Offenders must also have participated in other activities in the community to be eligible (i.e., community leave passes). Prison wardens approve offenders to participate in this program.
Community Volunteer Leave Program
This program, also called “CV Passes,” is a privilege that allows selected minimum custody offenders to go into the community with an approved volunteer sponsor for up to six hours, no more than three times a week. Offenders who are a part of this program are approaching the end of their sentence and have demonstrated positive behavior and responsibility.

The Department of Adult Correction trains citizens to be community volunteer sponsors. This program allows offenders an opportunity to get re-acquainted with the community, attend religious services or participate in other positive activities that will help in their transition into the community.

A family member cannot be a community volunteer sponsor. An offender on a community volunteer leave pass cannot have any contact with family members.

Self-Improvement Programs
A major goal of Prisons is to encourage offenders to change behaviors that contributed to their arrest and imprisonment. Self-improvement programs such as Anger Management, Character Education, Think Smart, Life Skills, Getting it Right Series and Thinking for a Change (Cognitive Behavior Intervention) are some of the programs offenders can attend to help them make better decisions, improve their self-worth, and learn effective problem-solving skills.

Domestic Violence Education Programs
These two part-time Domestic Violence Education Programs (DVEP) are at Richmond Correctional Institution and Dan River Prison Work Farm. A full-time program – S.T.O.P. and Change Direction Domestic Violence Education and Treatment Program – is a 20-week psycho-educational program at Albemarle Correctional Institution. Albemarle Correctional Institution also has a Domestic Violence Aftercare Support Group for offenders who have successfully completed S.T.O.P.
Religious Services
Adult Correction facilities authorize religious practices for religious services. Organized cooperate services are provided for most faith groups.

Chaplains are employed at many prisons. The role of the chaplain is to provide assistance and encouragement to offenders’ and staff with pastoral care.

Each week, chaplains, along with religious volunteers from the community, provide study groups, worship services, religious training and ministry to the offenders. Adult Correction facilities have rules on what religious items offenders can have in their possession.

Parenting Programs
Prison facilities recognize the importance of family. A number of classes are offered that assist offenders in being better parents by helping them to recognize the needs of their children and responsibilities to them. These programs help offenders work to maintain and improve relationships with their children and family during this difficult time and upon their release.

Some of the parenting programs offered are Motheread, Father Accountability, STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting), Proverbs 226 and Prison MATCH (Mothers and Their Children). Parenting programs are offered at various prisons. The MATCH Program is only offered at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh.

Transition Planning
Planning for an offender’s release back into the community at the end of the sentence is very important to his or her success after prison. Time spent in prison learning new skills and developing good habits is necessary for a law-abiding future upon release. These programs assist offenders in planning how to find employment, housing, transportation, continue in their addiction recovery, further their education and how to seek out available resources in the community. Family and friends can assist the offender with this planning.
Home Leave Program
This program is a privilege that is available to minimum custody offenders who are within 12 months of a release date or parole eligibility date. This program allows offenders to begin re-establishing themselves with their families and communities. Only those offenders who have gained the highest level of trust are granted home leave passes.

No offender who is a sex offender is allowed to participate in the home leave program. No offender serving a life sentence is allowed to participate unless recommended and/or approved through the Mutual Agreement Parole Program (MAPP).

An approved responsible adult and immediate family member serve as the home leave sponsors and must be with the offender at all times. All activities planned for the family visit are pre-approved by the prison staff and restrictions are placed on the visits. The offender and family sponsor must follow all of the rules and instructions.

Sex Offender Accountability and Responsibility (SOAR)
This is a treatment program at Harnett Correctional Institution for male offenders who are sex offenders. Offenders in this program learn appropriate and responsible social and sexual behavior. Offenders must be willing to participate in the program and be willing to work with others in this therapeutic treatment experience. 

Recreation, Arts and Crafts
Offenders are given the opportunity to participate in recreational activities as well as arts and crafts classes and contests. These activities are opportunities for improvement and usually offered after work activities are done.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction/Substance Abuse Treatment 
The use of drugs and alcohol in a prison setting presents a threat to the safety and security of staff, offenders and visitors, and is a violation of law.

All offenders are subject to drug testing due to cause or suspicion prior to release from prison, or they can be randomly selected at any time. Drug testing through drug screening is an effort to keep offenders from using or possessing drugs, reduce violence and ensure offenders released from prison are drug free.

Offenders who fail to cooperate with drug testing or breath alcohol testing, and offenders who test positive for drug or alcohol use, are subject to disciplinary action.

Do offenders get treatment for substance abuse?
The primary responsibility of Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency Programs (ACDP) is to deliver treatment programs and services to offenders in realistically dealing with their substance abuse and develop a support network to aid in avoiding substance abuse in the future.

About 85% of crimes that result in prison incarceration are linked to substance abuse like alcoholism and/or drug
addiction. Often offenders’ addictions are determined before they arrive at prison. Addictions are also determined during processing.

Relapsing into substance abuse after leaving prison very often leads to a return to prison. Support of families and friends is critical to former offender’s success in remaining substance free. Treatment programs are offered at certain female and male prisons:
Residential Treatment
Substance abuse treatment programs offer continuing treatment and recovery services to offenders. It begins when an offender is identified upon entering prison as needing drug/alcohol treatment. Offenders are then referred to one of Adult Correction’s residential treatment facilities across the state.

The Long Term ACDP program lasts between six and 12 months before the end of an offender’s sentence. The ACDP Intermediate is a 90-day treatment program. Both programs are offered to male and female offenders.

During the offender’s time in prison, he or she may attend Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous to continue in his or her recovery.

Long-Term Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT)
Long-term residential substance abuse treatment programs involve three to four hours of daily chemical dependency treatment. Currently, ACDP has one female RSAT program operating at Anson Correctional Institution.

These staff members coordinate a three-month post-release community transition aftercare plan. This is an essential part of the planned range of care. Newly released offenders have referrals to local Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities agencies, which help the former offender readjust to community living and address recommended continuing treatment needs.

Community-Based Residential Treatment
ACDP has two community-based residential treatment facilities for people on probation, parole or post-release supervision.
DART Center
This facility in Goldsboro offers a 90-day therapeutic community program. Offenders in these programs return to the supervision of a probation/parole officer upon release. A 300-bed community-based residential treatment facility provides substance abuse treatment services to male offenders who are on probation and/ or paroled and under the supervision of Community Corrections. This program can be ordered by a judge as a condition of probation or by the Post-Release and Parole Commission as a condition of his parole.

Black Mountain
A 50-bed community-based residential center in Black Mountain provides substance abuse treatment services to female offenders who are on probation or parole and under the supervision of Community Corrections. This program can be ordered by a judge as a condition of probation or by the Post-Release and Parole Commission as a condition of her parole. Black Mountain offers a
90-day substance abuse program that uses proven methods, focusing on group and individual therapy, in addition to substance abuse education.

ACDP provides long-term therapeutic treatment services for male and female offenders. Long-term programs last four to 12 months and are “back-end loaded,” which means offenders who successfully complete the program leave prison immediately or soon thereafter, returning to the community.

What types of meals are served in prison?

Offender meals in Adult Correction facilities are composed of healthy foods that contain approximately 2,700 calories per day. Offenders are served three hot meals a day with a variety of vegetables, starches and meats. Many of the foods are grown on the prison farms and processed by offenders. All menus are written by registered dietitians to meet the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science.

Are therapeutic diets available?

All therapeutic diets are prescribed by the physician at the facility where the offender is housed. Nutritional adequacy determination is based on the DRI as determined by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council. If the offender is housed in one of the medical facilities, he or she will have a consultation by a registered dietitian.

Are special menus available for holidays?

Special menus are used for July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Non-pork preferences are met by a lacto-ova-vegetarian entree at all meals. Other religious diets are set forth in the Prisons’ “Religious Practices Resource Guide and Reference Manual."

Who cooks the meals served in prison?

All meals are prepared by offenders under the supervision of correctional food management staff.

uniformed food service worker in correctional facility

Offender prepare meals under the supervision of correctional food service officers.

DAC facilities have nine Food Service Technology Programs offered to offenders. The classes are taught by staff from community colleges. Offender bakers, cooks and stock clerks learn to follow menus, recipes, production sheets and inventory processes in class and on the job in prison kitchens.

This curriculum prepares offenders for a career in food service, especially when combined with the practical application of working in a prison food service operation.

What types of foods are raised on the prison farms?

Offenders raise sweet potatoes, corn, squash, cabbage, onions, white potatoes and string beans. They also raise chickens to become laying hens and then process fresh eggs.

How do the offenders process food?

Offenders working in a cannery at Roanoke River Correctional Institution process more than 150,000 cases of food per year using methods like any other large vegetable cannery. At Harnett Correctional Institution, a meat processing plant produces all types of meat patties.

These operations follow all safety guidelines from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and federal inspections. Both plants meet all requirements for producing safe and healthy food.

What kind of health care do offenders receive?

Offenders are provided health care services for medical, mental health and dental concerns. Health care services stress prevention and early identification of health concerns. Each prison is capable of meeting its offenders’ basic medical and mental health needs. Telehealth services are also provided to offenders so they do not have to leave their facility for consultations.

Upon entering the prison system, each offender is evaluated medically and assigned an acuity rating that correlates with the amount of nursing care required to meet the offender’s medical and mental health needs. This initial evaluation includes a physical exam, dental screening, tuberculosis testing and an update on immunizations. Blood tests may be drawn based on health history and state requirements. The acuity rating is also a critical factor in determining an offender’s housing assignment.

Offenders are urged to complete a request for release of medical records form to be sent to their previous doctor(s) for ongoing medical conditions. The signed release gives the provider physician the offender’s permission to have medical records forwarded to the institution’s medical unit for review and to have as a part of the medical file.

How do medical needs affect the housing assignment for offenders?

Every offender is housed in a facility that is capable of meeting the offender’s medical and mental health needs.

How does an offender make a health care appointment?

Offenders who need to make an appointment with health care staff complete a sick call form requesting medical care. The sick call schedule is posted. All requests are reviewed, prioritized and scheduled according to the urgency of the problem. Emergency medical care is provided when needed.

Do offenders pay for health care services?

Since 1997, offenders have been charged a co-pay, or fee, when they request sick call, which is for routine medical and dental care. This fee is currently $5. The fee is $7 for a self-declared emergency visit outside the normal sick call appointment. The fee is not charged if a defined emergency occurs.

No fee is charged for health care visits initiated by prison facilities, such as initial screenings, physicals and emergency care.

Regardless of ability to pay, no offender is denied access to health care.

Can offenders use their family physician to provide medical services?

In most circumstances, Prisons is charged with ensuring that all offenders receive appropriate medical, dental and mental health care.

The division’s physicians and dentists provide medical and dental services. Offenders in minimum custody may be allowed to use their personal specialists or family physician if the expenses are paid completely by the offender or the offender’s family.

What if an offender needs to be hospitalized?

Several prisons have medical facilities on site that provide in-patient care. Local community hospitals provide medical care and treatment when the onsite facility cannot provide needed services.

What services are available to pregnant offenders?

All pregnant offenders are housed and receive services at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh. They receive a full range of prenatal care at the prison’s health care unit.

If a pregnant offender should require specialized medical care, she is referred to services in the community. All deliveries take place at an outside hospital. Correctional staff is assigned to be with the offender during her entire stay at the hospital.

A medical social worker at the prison provides specialized social work services to pregnant offenders. Services include counseling, assisting the pregnant offenders in making the best possible placement plan for her child, parenting classes, maternal health education and other support groups.

What if treatment by a specialist is necessary?

Outside specialists are available when ordered by the primary care provider and approved by the Utilization Review Department to provide medical treatment. Those specialists are often associated with one of North Carolina’s medical centers and/or major hospitals and provide cardiology, orthopedics, dermatology, oncology, hematology, oral surgery, general surgery, gynecology and other specialty care. Some specialty clinics are also established within facilities to provide services onsite at the prison.

What if questions arise about treatment or medical condition?

Family members and friends are often concerned about the medical condition of an offender. Prison facilities, like any medical care provider, must abide by the guidelines governing the patient’s right to confidentiality of medical records information. The offender may sign a medical release that would authorize proper medical staff to discuss care and provide updates regarding medical condition and treatment.

What efforts are made to control contagious disease? Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Carolina Department of Public Health and Human Services are followed. New offenders are tested for tuberculosis, syphilis and HIV, as required by state law. Routine testing, including annual TB screening, continues to occur for both staff and offenders. An offender will be placed in separate housing if he or she poses a health risk to others.

Mental Health Services

General outpatient mental health services are available at all prison facilities. Typically, psychologists and social workers provide individual and group therapy programs to address most issues related to mental health. The prison psychology staff is available to meet with and evaluate any offender who is referred or who asks to speak about problems with prison adjustment or other concerns that may indicate a mental illness.

There may be specific and ongoing programs to address such issues as anger management, stress management, communication skills and others. In addition, outpatient psychiatric services are available for offenders who require treatment with medications.

How does an offender receive mental health services?

An offender can request to see mental health staff simply by scheduling an appointment.

The unit’s medical department often first notices mental health concerns and an offender may be referred to mental health by medical staff. Also, other staff members (correctional officers, case managers, etc.) may suspect that an offender is having a problem and refer the offender to the mental health staff.

Each prison facility has procedures for how referrals to mental health are handled.

What treatment is available for offenders who have a serious and persistent mental illness?

Prisons has several facilities equipped and staffed to provide more intensive and structured treatment for those needing this service. Inpatient facilities provide a place for the evaluation and stabilization of acute illnesses and unstable chronic mental illness. Typically, an offender is admitted while his or her condition is evaluated, treated and stabilized. Once stable, the offender could be sent to another prison facility for follow-up or to a residential program for long-term care and observation.

Offenders with chronic mental illness who lack the skills necessary to function in the general population are reviewed for possible housing and treatment in a residential program.

Treatment may include training to improve adaptive skills as well as educational programs to reinforce the need for ongoing monitoring and treatment of a serious mental illness. Programs are in place for chronically mentally ill offenders, providing structure and additional skills training.

What services are available to offenders with developmental disabilities?

Services for offenders with developmental disabilities (also known as “DD”) are provided. An individual is considered to have a developmental disability if the disability is connected to a mental or physical impairment or a combination of both. Intellectual (mental) disability is the most common developmental disability in the prison population.

Prisons acknowledges its responsibility to comply with the American Disabilities Act of 1990. Reasonable accommodations necessary to allow offenders with disabilities to effectively and safely participate in or have access to jobs, programs, activities and services in prison environment will be provided.

Each new offender is evaluated, and if identified as having a developmental disability, specialized services are provided and are ongoing until his or her release. A treatment plan is developed to meet the offender’s needs and for successful transition back into the community.

Certain prison facilities are considered as “special housing” to meet physical limitations offenders may have.

What happens when an offender needs mental health care after being released from prison?

All offenders who are involved in mental health services, including those with developmental disabilities, receive aftercare planning prior to their release. Prisons work closely with community resources to set up aftercare programs that give offenders the opportunity to continue with their mental health treatment after release.
The aftercare plan is completed by the social worker who is assigned to that prison. The plan consists of a home plan, mental health and/or medical care referrals, financial plan and other community referrals that may include the Department of Social Services, educational programs, job training/ employment, Social Security Office for Social Supplemental Income (SSI) where applicable, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Section 8 or HUD for housing purposes.

The plan may also include substance abuse programs such as AA and NA to meet those needs upon release. Applications for public assistance can be started before release by contacting the social worker assigned to the prison where the offender is housed. Most of the time, these applications must be completed after the offender is released from prison.

Good behavior of offenders is expected and necessary to ensure safety and security in the prisons for both the offenders and staff. Rules are established and must be followed. Prisons informs offenders about the rules, disciplinary procedures and sanctions (sanctions are penalties for disobeying a rule/policy) during the admission process. It is important to closely follow the progress of the offender and encourage good behavior.

How is an individual charged with a rule violation?

If a staff member observes and/or determines that an offender has violated prison rules, a report is prepared. This report is commonly known as a “write-up.” If the facility head or designee determines that disciplinary action is appropriate, an official report is prepared. Care is taken to make sure procedures are followed correctly, that offender rights are protected, the investigations are thorough and all information is properly documented.

When the charges are presented to the offender, the offender may voluntarily offer a plea of guilty and accept lesser sanctions or suspended/sanction guilty or may plead not guilty and appear before a disciplinary hearing officer (DHO). The DHO is a Prisons employee from outside the facility who will review all of the evidence and determine guilt or innocence. If the offender is found not guilty, the violation will be removed from the offender’s OPUS records.

If the offender pleads guilty, the DHO will determine the appropriate sanctions according to policy. If the offender pleads not guilty but is found guilty by the DHO, the offender may appeal the decision to the Prisons Commissioner. The Commissioner or designee will review the records and make a final decision.

The offender will be charged a $10 administrative fee if the case ends with a guilty decision.

What are the sanctions if an offender is found guilty?

Sanctions may include confinement to restrictive housing – which is often called “lock up” – loss of time credits, extra job duties, demotion in custody grades/level and loss of privileges such as telephone, canteen, visitation or radio and limited weekly trust fund withdrawal. Disciplinary actions with a guilty or dismissed verdict will always remain on an offender’s record.

How can offenders have their concerns addressed?

The Administrative Remedy Procedure, most often known as the Grievance Procedure, provides offenders the opportunity to voice their concerns. A grievance is written by an offender concerning an action, incident, policy or condition within the housing facility or prison. The grievance will be investigated in a timely manner, and a written response will be given to the offender.

If the offender is not satisfied with that response, he or she may appeal the grievance to the facility warden. If the offender is not satisfied with the warden’s response, he/she may appeal the complaint to the Inmate Grievance Resolution Board. The Inmate Grievance Resolution Board will then review the complaint and provide the offender with an answer to his or her grievance.

How are risk groups in the prisons managed?

Prisons recognizes that certain groups commit acts that are disruptive to the safe, secure and orderly operation of a prison facility. These groups are identified as Security Risk Groups (SRG), commonly known as “gangs.”

If a group’s disruptive acts meet the criteria of an SRG as established by the department, the group may be confirmed as an SRG. Offenders within the SRG may also be confirmed as SRG members or individuals.

When an offender is confirmed as an SRG member, they are closely monitored, which may include non-contact visits, monitored telephone calls and reading of mail.

Each member’s status is reviewed once every six months. As a result of the review, the level at which the offender is monitored may remain the same, increase, decrease or be removed altogether.

An intelligence officer is assigned at each facility to monitor gang activity and to review the status of confirmed SRG members.

Why are searches needed?

Searches are essential to the safe and secure operation of prison facilities and are the main method of detecting weapons, drugs, cellphones and other contraband that could pose a threat to the safety and security of the facility, staff, offenders and visitors.

How are offenders searched?

Offenders are subject to a search at any time. A correctional officer does not need to have probable cause or even suspicion to search an offender. Such searches may be done at random or as planned. Routine searches, also called “pat and frisk” searches, may be done by male and female staff and are completed with the offender being fully dressed. Complete searches are called “strip searches,” where the offender is required to remove his or her clothing so as to include a visual search of the body and are performed by staff of the same sex as the offender.

Area searches are made in an offenders’ living quarters, work areas, recreational areas or visiting areas and may be done at any time.

Offenders who, in any way, interfere with or fail to cooperate fully with staff are subject to sanctions.

Is smoking or tobacco use allowed in prison?

No. As of Jan. 1, 2006, the use of all tobacco products and tobacco materials at all prison facility buildings is prohibited.

Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, snuff, smokeless tobacco, chews or any other substance containing tobacco. Tobacco materials include rolling papers, pipes or other products used to smoke, inhale or ingest tobacco products.

The use of tobacco products, tobacco materials and lighting devices is prohibited at all facilities.

Tobacco use by visitors also is prohibited on all facility grounds.

What are the sentencing laws in North Carolina?

While North Carolina has several sentencing laws, there are three types of sentencing laws under which an offender has likely been sent to prison.

These laws are the Justice Reinvestment Act, Structured Sentencing Act and Fair Sentencing Act. The majority of offenders are serving time under structured sentencing.

Justice Reinvestment Act

This 2011 Act represents significant changes to the state’s sentencing laws. Some of those changes are:

Post-Release Supervision
Offenders who are convicted of committing a felony on or after Feb. 2, 2011, will receive at least nine months of post-release supervision. Offenders convicted of committing crimes B1-E (serious/violent felonies) receive 12 months of post-release supervision. For crimes F-I, they receive nine months of post-release supervision.

Since Jan. 1, 2012, offenders convicted of misdemeanor crimes and sentenced to confinement for up to 90 days serve their time in the local jail. If the sentence is 91-180 days, it will be a part of the Misdemeanant Confinement Program, and the offenders serve their time in a county jail. This does not apply to DWI offenders.

90-Day CRV
Confinement in Response to Violation (CRV) is for probationers who, since Dec. 1, 2011, violated the terms of their probation. The court may impose confinement of 90 days for a felony or up to 90 days for a misdemeanor. The confinement is in three locations designated for CRV offenders.
Advanced Supervised Release (ASR) is a sentence option based on certain felony classes and prior record levels. This was established for offenders sentenced on/after Jan. 1, 2012. The judge uses a sentencing grid to determine eligibility and sentence length. If an offender is sentenced under ASR, he/she is required to complete risk reduction incentive programs based on risk/needs while incarcerated, which can result in a shorter sentence being served. An offender can be removed from the ASR sentence if he/she commits certain disciplinary infractions and/or refuses to participate in the required programming.

Post-Release three-month re-imprisonment (PR3) is a three-month period of confinement for post-release violators who were not in compliance with the terms of their supervision conditions.

Structured Sentencing Act

An offender whose crime was committed on or after Oct. 1, 1994, will be sentenced under the Structured Sentencing Act. Each felon will receive a minimum sentence and a maximum sentence. By law, the offender will serve 100% of the minimum sentence. The offender will have a maximum release date and minimum release date and cannot be released before the minimum release date. Persons who are sentenced to a life sentence under this law will not have a release date and will not be eligible for parole.

Offenders serving sentences for Driving While Impaired (DWI) where the offense occurred on or after October 1, 1994, are not subject to the provisions of the Structured Sentencing Act.

Offenders convicted and sentenced under the Structured Sentencing Act are not eligible for any type of parole or early release.
Offenders who have been convicted of serious crimes (Class “B1 through E” felonies excluding B1 felons serving life sentences) under Structured Sentencing and who have completed their mandatory prison time are released on post-release supervision.

Post-release supervision is ordered when an offender completes the active portion of his or her term. Felony offenders are supervised in the community for nine months after release from prison.

If the offense is a sexual offense, the offender is supervised in the community for a period of five years. Offenders on post-release supervision must live by the rules and conditions of their supervision. If the offender does not live up to the rules and conditions, the post-release supervision may be revoked (stopped) and the offender will be returned to prison for a period of up to nine months.

Offenders convicted of Class “F through I” felonies or Class “A1 through 3” misdemeanors under Structured Sentencing will be released into the community with no supervision after they have served their required time in prison.

Fair Sentencing Act

Offenders who committed felony crimes on or after July 1, 1981, and before Oct. 1, 1994, are sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act. The Fair Sentencing Act requires that offenders with felony convictions serving 18 months or longer in prison must be released on parole 90 days before their sentence expires. This is called 90-day mandatory parole.

Offenders under Fair Sentencing may be eligible for parole earlier if they meet certain criteria and they agree to perform community service work as a part of their parole.
For an offender serving Class A or Class B life sentences, he or she must serve 20 years on each consecutive life sentence received in order to be eligible for parole. For an offender serving Class C life sentences, he or she is eligible for parole after service of 20 years less good time on each consecutive life sentence received.

Offenders serving sentences for Driving While Impaired (DWI) Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 and Level 5 are eligible for parole after serving 1/5th of their sentence, and they must complete or be paroled to a substance abuse treatment program such as DART Center or Black Mountain.

Parole other than the 90-day mandatory parole is not automatically granted but must be earned. It is always in the offender’s best interest to be of good behavior, work hard and participate in appropriate and/or required programs, as these factors are considered during a parole review.

Offenders on parole must live by the rules and conditions of their parole. If an offender on parole does not live up to these rules and conditions, the parole may be revoked (stopped), and the offender will be returned to prison to serve their sentence.

Questions regarding parole for offenders who were convicted and sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act or received a sentence prior to the Fair Sentencing Act should be addressed to the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.

Do offenders get credit for working and/or good behavior while in prison?

An offender sentenced under the Structured Sentencing Act will receive “earned time” when they are assigned to a job or a full-time program. For an offender assigned to a job or a full-time program, earned time can help reduce the sentence down from the maximum release date to the minimum release date. An offender’s sentence cannot be reduced below the minimum amount of time that was ordered by the judge or increased above the maximum.

Offenders sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act will be able to reduce the amount of time they spend in prison by working or participating in certain programs. Offenders working or assigned to a program will receive “gain time.” Different amounts are awarded based on the type of job or program the offender is assigned to.

Offenders sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act are also awarded “good time” – one day of credit for each day of good behavior while in prison. The credit is applied when the offender begins serving a sentence. Good time is to be taken back when the offender receives disciplinary action.

“Merit time” may also be awarded under the Fair or Structured Sentencing acts as additional time credits to offenders who work more than 40 hours a week, work in bad weather or work under emergency conditions.

Projected release dates are subject to change if offenders are removed from a job or program assignment for any reason such as transfer, disciplinary or completion of a program.

What is CRV?

Probationers may be sentenced by a court or by the N.C.Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission to a period of confinement because they failed to comply with the conditions of supervision. This temporary confinement at a Confinement in Response to Violation (CRV) Center is designed to provide the probationer with structured programming, case planning, educational and vocational services to prepare them for a successful return to the community.

During their confinement, they are given many responsibilities to fulfill, such as attending class, participating in recreational activities and performing yard and dorm duties. Each day is structured to help the probationers learn to make better decisions on their own and become more productive and law-abiding citizens, which will make communities safer.

Is CRV the same as prison?

Confinement in Response to Violation is not like prison. While at the CRV, those confined are held accountable for their actions through rewards and consequences. Being “held accountable” means they have the opportunity to earn privileges as they progress through the program components as well as lose privileges because of poor decision making.

Offenders at a CRV are subject to random drug and alcohol screenings and are required to submit to random, warrantless searches. Offenders at a CRV are not allowed to possess drugs, alcohol, drug/alcohol paraphernalia, gang paraphernalia, illegal items, lottery tickets, cash, tobacco products, items or instruments which could be used as a means to assault or compromise safety.
Any item that an offender has not been authorized to possess is considered contraband and can be illegal and will be taken from the resident. Further, this may result in consequences up to removal to a more restrictive facility.

Two facilities are designated to house male CRV offenders: Burke CRV in Morganton and Robeson CRV in Lumberton. Female CRV offenders are housed at a separate location, North Piedmont CRV in Lexington. Occasionally, a CRV offender may have to be housed at a prison facility if special circumstances warrant, which may include medical/mental health and/or removal from the program.

What may a resident have while in a CRV center?

Offenders at a CRV may possess:
• Canteen purchases earned though the program participation and achievements during their placement.
• A wedding ring and/or eye glasses (All other jewelry will remain with property relinquished upon entrance to the center and will be provided back to the offender upon release.)
• Uniforms issued upon intake to the program, along with toothbrush, shaving cream, safety razors and blades issued by the confinement center.
• Unframed pictures no larger than 8 by 10 inches.
• Personal mail approved according to the mail policy after these items have been searched.

The CRV center is not responsible for any items in the possession of the offender if they are damaged, lost or stolen.

Can an offender at a CRV send and receive mail?

Correspondence is prohibited with offenders in federal and state prisons and county jails. Offenders at a CRV center are allowed to write to anyone unless restricted by conditions of supervision. This is a privilege and can be taken away if the resident is not abiding by the rules of the CRV center.
Incoming mail is subject to be searched and read if there is reason to believe that the letter contains threats of harm, criminal activity, escape plans or plans to violate rules of the CRV Center. Offenders are not allowed to receive publications from any source while at the CRV Center. Offenders do not have trust fund accounts and cannot receive any outside monies.

Offenders may send outgoing mail by purchasing stamps from the incentive shop. Funds to purchase stamps and other “canteen items” from the incentive shop are earned by pro-social behaviors recognized by staff or stated accomplishments in programs offered at the CRV Center.

Can an offender at a CRV have visitors?

A completed visitor application for immediate family members must be approved by the offender’s probation officer before a visit can occur. Visits are not permitted until after the first two weeks of an offender’s confinement period and the offender is participating in the activities/programs of the CRV Center.

Probation officers verify immediate family members. No more than five family members can be approved for visitation days. Visitation is a privilege and can be taken away if an offender is not abiding by the rules of the program. No property or monies is received at visitation.

Can offenders at a CRV make phone calls?

Offenders are permitted to make collect calls to family members. Procedures for phone calls will be posted in the dorms. Phone calls are permitted once an offender receives a PIN at intake. In the event of death of immediate family member, the CRV leadership will determine if a special telephone call is allowed.

Several services and resources are designed to help offenders make the transition home and seek employment:

Social Security Cards

An agreement between the Social Security Administration (SSA) and DAC enables an offender to receive a duplicate Social Security card prior to release. He or she will need a Social Security card to start work.

The offender’s case manager can ensure a duplicate card has been requested. If the offender was never issued a Social Security card, he or she will need to apply for one at the SSA office in their community immediately following release.

DPS Release ID

An arrangement between DAC and the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows an ex-offender to use a DAC Release ID for personal identification when applying at DMV for a driver license or State ID, along with a Social Security card and proof of residence. A State ID or driver license also is required for starting work.

County Resource List

A case manager will provide an offender with a list of community resources in the county to which the offender will be returning, including contact information for public and private agencies offering services and programs that may be needed, including faith-based resources.

Transition Documents Envelope (TDE)

The offender’s TDE will include a Social Security card, DPS Release ID, County Resource List and copies of certificates awarded and other credentials which may have been earned. It may also contain other information and documents needed  in applying for work and re-entering the community. After release, the offender should have his or her TDE when keeping appointments with the Employment Security Commission or Job Link Career Center and when applying for a job.

Job Search Assistance

Offenders are encouraged to use the services of the local Job Link Career Center and Employment Security Commission (ESC) office to conduct a job search, prepare a resume, apply for jobs online, and take assessments for employment and training assistance.

Work Opportunity Tax (WOTC) and Federal Bonding programs

These two federal programs are incentives for employers who hire a person with a felony record. The WOTC awards the employer with a $2,400 tax credit for employing a former felony offender full-time for a year. The Federal Bonding Program provides the employer $5,000 or more in free bonding insurance for hiring an ex-offender. Both programs are administered through the local ESC office, so the ex-offender should mention these incentives to employers when he/she interviews.

Financial Aid for College

While no one with a felony record is eligible for an educational grant while under supervision, the ex-offender may be eligible for other forms of financial assistance or a grant after completing supervision. To find out what may be available, contact the financial aid office at the community college or four-year college in the ex-offender’s home area. They also may qualify for financial assistance for college study through the Job Link Career Center in their community.

Veterans Benefits

If the ex-offender served in one of the branches of the U.S. military, he/she may be eligible for one or more benefits or services through the Veterans Administration (VA), depending on the type of discharge. To learn what may be available, contact the local Veterans Services Office. The ex-offender should have the DD-214 discharge papers with him/her when they go for an appointment.

Voting Rights

Prior to release, offenders are informed of their voting rights and the procedures to register to vote upon having their rights of citizenship restored.

Social Security Benefits

If offenders were receiving SSI from the Social Security Administration prior to being in prison, they would need to reapply to the SSA to determine whether they are still eligible. Being awarded SSI has nothing to do with being an ex-offender. A copy of “What Prisoners Should Know About Social Security” is available at the SSA website: socialsecurity.gov.


As offenders are preparing for release, it is important to understand the publicly offered programs and services they may apply for in the community so that the plans they make to resume life as a private citizen are based on solid information. The purpose of this section is to clarify information you may depend on as opposed to “hearsay” you should ignore.

A great deal of misinformation circulates among offenders about benefits and services they should expect to receive due to having been incarcerated. The truth is no benefits or entitlements of any kind are due to an offender as the result of being incarcerated.

Ex-offenders will have to apply for community programs and services just like any other citizen. Also, a few special provisions for ex-offenders and employers that offenders need to be aware of will be explained below. Here are five examples of the most common types of misinformation about “ex-offender benefits or entitlements” you may hear about, followed by the facts of the matter.
• Offenders are eligible for automatic unemployment payments from the Employment Security Commission (ESC) based on the length of their incarceration. 
FALSE. Offenders are NOT eligible for any unemployment benefits from ESC or payments from any other agency, regardless of the number of months or years they have served or for any other reasons. ESC staff will assist them in their job search, and in any other ways they can, but they should not go to ESC expecting to receive any unemployment check for being incarcerated

• Most offenders are eligible for services from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). 
FALSE. Only those offenders who meet very specific requirements for psychological or physical barriers to employment are eligible for referral to VR for assessment, which also requires access to and evaluation of medical records. Even then, services are not assured. These requirements exclude the great majority of offenders.

• All offenders are eligible for Food Stamps from the Department of Social Services.
FALSE. For offenders in need of food assistance when released, they should apply for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps) benefits at their county Social Services (DSS) office, which will determine if they are eligible. They will not automatically receive food stamps because they are an ex-offender. To be eligible, they must meet the same requirements as other applicants.

• The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers special loans to ex-offenders.
FALSE. No special loan programs are available for ex-offenders. The offender must apply to the SBA, which will evaluate the merits of his/her business plan for being awarded a loan, the same as any other applicant.
 • Many offenders are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
FALSE. If offenders were receiving SSI from the Social Security Administration (SSA) prior to being in prison, they would need to reapply to SSA to determine whether they are still eligible. Being awarded SSI has nothing to do with being an ex-offender. A copy of “What Prisoners Should Know About Social Security” is available at the SSA website: socialsecurity.gov.

Remember to check out the accuracy of all information you hear or read about regarding any community resource, before and after release, to ensure the information is accurate, complete and up to date. The first step in any successful re-entry is being correctly informed.

Prison has a language of its own that can be confusing. Many of these terms and phrases are used by prison staff as well as offenders. The definitions below should help you understand the meaning of some of these terms.

Classification – A method for determining offender custody level and program needs.

Combined Records – A Department of Adult Correction office in Raleigh where copies of offender records are kept.

Concurrent Sentences – If an offender has more than one sentence, the court may decide that the sentences can be served concurrently, which means the sentences are served at the same time. For example, a person with a two-year sentence plus a two-year concurrent sentence will have a total sentence length of two years.

Consecutive Sentences – If an offender has more than one sentence, the court may decide that each sentence must be served separately before the next sentence begins. For example, a person with a two-year sentence plus a two-year consecutive sentence has a total sentence length of four years. Offenders sometimes refer to consecutive sentences as “boxcar sentences.”

Contraband – Items/articles not approved by the prison facility and approved items that have been altered or are over the required limit.

Control Status – The level of an offender’s supervision and control when separated from the regular offender population.
Convicted – A term used when a person has been found guilty of a crime by a court.

CRV – Confinement in Response to Violation: A 90-day term of confinement for probationers who violate the terms of their probation.

Custody – For maintaining public safety and institutional safety, the level in which an offender is housed based on the crime committed, the length of the sentence, criminal history and behavior.

Death Row – The housing assignment of offenders admitted to prison on a death order commitment. These offenders are housed only at Central Prison and at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women.

Defendant – A person who is accused of committing a crime.

Designee - A prison staff person who has been appointed to act with authority in the absence of the Region Director, prison warden or other Adult Correction official

Detainer - A legal document in an offender’s record stating that he or she is wanted in another county, state or federal system and should be transported to another correctional system rather than being released.

Developmental Disabilities – Intellectual and/or physical limitations that require special programs for an offender.

DHO - Disciplinary Hearing Officer: An employee of DAC not assigned to any specific prison facility who conducts hearings on offender disciplinary offenses.

Diagnostic Center – A facility in certain prisons where new offenders are admitted, processed, and assessed while waiting for initial classification and housing assignment.
Escape – A person who escapes or attempts to escape from prison has violated prison rules and state laws and can receive an additional sentence. Anyone assisting an offender to escape from prison has also violated the state laws.

Facility Head, Correctional Administrator or Warden - The person in charge of the overall operation of a prison.

Felony – A crime considered most serious, typically involving violence and usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death.

Grievance – An appeal or complaint using specific forms and procedures regarding a decision or action made.

HCON – Abbreviation for “High Security Maximum Control.” This is the housing assignment and classification status where offenders pose the most serious threat to the safety of staff and other offenders and to the security of the prison. Offenders assigned to this control require the most security.

Honor Grade – Also known as “minimum custody.” Because minimum custody offenders wear green uniforms, they often refer to minimum custody as “having their greens.” Minimum custody prisons are often called “honor grade” prisons. Armed supervision is not required.

Immediate Family – Prisons policy defines immediate family members as mother, father, husband, wife, daughter, son, brother, sister, foster parents or other persons who have acted in the place of parents where such relationships can be verified.

Incarcerate – To put an individual in prison or jail.

Incentive Wage – The wage that an offender is paid when working on a job assignment at the prison, on a community work crew, on a road squad or at a Correction Enterprises plant.
Indigent – An offender is considered indigent if they have no money to purchase basic hygiene items such as soap or deodorant.

Infraction – A violation of a law or rule. In the prison system, it is most often called a “write-up.

Investigating Officer – A person who gathers the facts when a rule may have been broken or an incident occurred involving an offender.

Misdemeanor – A crime that is not as serious as a felony.

Offender – Any person convicted of a crime or offense under the laws of North Carolina and committed by law to the custody of DAC.

Parole – A conditional release from prison that allows an offender to serve the remainder of his or her sentence in the community after serving a portion of the sentence in prison. Only offenders who have been sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act or earlier sentencing laws are eligible for parole. Parole is earned and not automatic. It provides for supervision of the parolee and permits the offender’s return to prison through revocation if parole conditions are not met.

Parole Case Analyst – A person who works for the Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission. This person is responsible for reviewing an offender’s records to determine if the offender should be recommended for parole. The Commission votes as to whether an offender should receive parole. The Parole Case Analyst is not the offender’s Case Manager.

PR3 – Post Release 3-month Re-imprisonment (PR3) is a three-month period of confinement for post release violators who were not in compliance with the terms of their supervision conditions.
Post-release supervision (PRS) – A period of supervised release felons must serve in the community upon release from prison. Usually, supervision will last either 9 or 12 months depending on what felony class for which the offender was convicted.

Prisons – Often used as a short reference to the entire system of prisons in DAC, especially in written format.

Probation – A sentence ordered by the court allowing an offender to remain in the community with supervision and guidance of a Probation Officer, under such conditions as the court may impose. If an offender does not follow the conditions of the probation, he or she can be put in prison.

Processing – When an offender arrives in prison, the first few weeks are spent at a diagnostic center to best determine the needs and assignment. This time spent in diagnostics is called processing.

Projected Release Date – The estimated date of release that is based on any time credits that the offender has earned or is projected to earn until the time of his/her release. The projected release date is always subject to change depending on whether the offender earns or loses time credits.

Protective Control – An offender housed in Protective Control is separated from the general population for his or her safety. An offender may request protective custody, but a committee decides if protective custody is necessary.

Region Director – A person in charge of several prison facilities in a region. DAC has four geographical regions of prisons: Central, Eastern, South Central and Western.
Regular Population – A housing assignment in a prison where offenders may move about the prison facility as needed due to their jobs or program assignments, recreation or mealtime with other offenders. It is also known as “general population.”

Restitution – Required payments that are authorized by the courts to be paid by an offender to the victim of his or her crime

Restrictive Housing for Administrative Purposes (RHAP) – Restrictive Housing for Administrative Purposes is the temporary removal of an offender from a general offender population to confinement in a secure area. Reasons for RHAP may include protecting staff and other offenders, preventing escape, “cooling off” period, investigation and preserving order.

Restrictive Housing for Control Purposes (RHCP) – Restrictive Housing for Control Purposes is a long-term restrictive housing assignment. The intent is the control of offenders due to behavior deemed to be repeatedly disruptive to the orderly operations of the facility, threats to the safety of staff or other offenders, threats to the security and operational integrity of the facility, or as a transition following assignment to a higher control status.

Restrictive Housing for Disciplinary Purposes (RHDP) – Restrictive Housing for Disciplinary Purposes is the housing assignment for offenders who are subject to sanctions pursuant to authorized Prisons disciplinary procedures after being found guilty of a disciplinary offense.

Safekeeper – A county jail offender who is admitted to prison while awaiting trial or sentencing. Safekeeping provides extra security for those offenders who pose a danger to themselves, to other offenders and to the general public. A person may also be admitted as a safekeeper if they require medical or mental health care that cannot be provided by the county jail.
Sanction – A penalty for not following a rule or policy, typically determined during the offender disciplinary process. The action taken at the disciplinary hearing can include demotion in custody, loss of privileges, loss of good/earned time and/or restrictive housing.

Security Risk – Any possible danger to the general public, staff or offenders.

Security Risk Group (SRG) – A group of offenders who pose a threat to the safe, secure and orderly operation of a prison. These groups are also known as “gangs.”

Sentence Reduction Credits – Time credits applied to an offender’s sentence that reduces the amount of time to be served. Sentence reduction credits include good time, gain time, earned time and meritorious time.

Split Sentence – A judge may order a split sentence that requires the offender to serve a period of time in prison followed by a period of special probation. The time served in prison must be served without any sentence reduction credits.

Suspended – A court-ordered sentence may remain inactive subject to conditions established by the court. It may be imposed by the court at any time during the sentence.

Find a complete listing of Prisons Facilities on the web.

Other available resources that you might find helpful, too, are:

Offender Family Services (OFS)

This service is a liaison between families of offenders and the Department of Adult Correction. OFS provides an open line of communication to assist offender families with resolving human service needs through emotional support related to the effects of an offender’s incarceration or placement on probation, parole, post-release supervision and provide accurate information and answer questions you may have about an offender. OFS assists with family reunification, transition planning, and referral to community resources. It also assists families, interested parties, and citizens with understanding the policy and procedures of the division of prisons and of the criminal justice system.
Contact OFS at 919-733-3388, or you can write to:
Offender Family Services 4221 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699

Offender Family Hotline (OFH)

This hotline can provide accurate information and answer questions that you may have about an offender and/or Prisons. You can reach the OFH at
1-800-368-1985 or via e-mail at info@ncdps.gov.

Victim Services

This office assists victims of crime, their families, and interested parties whose offenders were sentenced to prison or placed on probation, parole or post-release supervision. The staff provides emotional support, educational materials, training, resource referral and assists victims in understanding the criminal justice system. Victims and interested parties can register for letter notification from the Office of Victim Services. You can contact Victim Services at 1-866-719-0108.

Also, NC SAVAN (Statewide Automated Victim Assistance and Notification) is a service that provides victims and interested parties with automated notification of an offender’s custody status from prison, probation and post-release supervision.
Visit ncsavan.org to register for notification.

Public Policy Manuals

The Prisons Policy and Procedures Manual (Redbook), Prisons Health Care Manual,  Inmate Discipline, Prisons Food and Nutrition Management Manual are public documents that are available on the DAC website.

A publciation titled "Rules and Policies Governing the Management and Conduct of Inmates Under the Control of the Division of Prisons, also known as the "Inmate Booklet," is also avaialbe on the DAC website.

Members of the general public who wish to purchase the Policy & Procedures Manual, Health Manual, and Food & Nutrition Management Manual may complete the General  Public Prisons Manual Order Form listed on the public website.


The Department of Adult Correction would like to recognize all individuals who contributed to the preparation of this handbook. Special recognition goes to:

  • Mary N. Ward, Family Services Administrator for Offender Family Services, for her hard work in developing this handbook
  • All Prisons administration staff who provided support and pertinent information for this handbook, made recommendations and suggestions,and provided proofreading for the final product.
  • The NCDAC Communications Office staff for the editing and layout of the handbook, and for publishing it on the DAC website.
  • Former offender Renee Morton, who created the artwork for this publication.
  • All employees who are charged with the task of upholding the rules and regulations of the Department of Adult Correction.
  • And, finally, to those family members and friends who provide support during an offender’s incarceration.