The Prison Home Leave program has been modified, according to the media, as of last week. While some people are resting better knowing that 15-20 of the offenders are no longer eligible, there are some concerns that need to be addressed. The press release below was sent out on July 3, 2013.
July 3, 2013
Contact: Pamela Walker, 919-733-5027
Department of Public Safety Modifying Prisons’ Home Leave Program
RALEIGH – After receiving concerns from several sources on the Home Leave Program for inmates who are close to termination of their sentences, Gov. Pat McCrory directed the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to conduct a comprehensive review of the program. Experienced DPS leadership completed a careful analysis of this program and submitted several recommendations to the Governor. He reviewed and approved the DPS recommendations for immediate implementation. They include:
- The victim and district attorney notification process will be more rigorous. Notifications will be made to both the victims and DAs every time an inmate will be participating on a home leave visit.
- Approval for participants in the Home Leave Program will be by recommendation of the facility head housing the inmate, the Regional Director and the Deputy Director of Prisons.
- No inmate serving a life sentence under the old system will be eligible for participation in the Home Leave Program, unless they have an actual parole date.
- Working with the Parole Commission, the current Mutual Agreement Parole Program (MAPP) agreements involving convicted sex offenders which allow participation in the Home Leave Program will be rescinded. Additionally, no new MAPP agreements will be entered into that allow for a convicted sex offender to participate in the Home Leave Program.
“With these modifications, the Home Leave Program will continue to serve as a useful tool to assist an inmate in transitioning from prison to home, while additionally serving to reduce recidivism,” Secretary Kieran Shanahan said.
The Home Leave Program has been in place for four decades and provides graduated transition for inmates about to be released back into the community.
The media have covered the changes that should be made. According to the media reports, 15-20 of the 149 prisoners that go home on weekends are now ineligible for home leave. Yes, some changes have been made, but there are concerns about when the changes will become permanent. After calling the Department of Public Safety, I learned there has been no written documentation of the changes to the field. The Department of Public Safety has said the documentation is coming and will soon be updated in the procedural manual.
Some issues that still need to be addressed are:
– Will Habitual Offenders continue to participate in the program?
– Will murderers be eligible even if they are not sentenced to life?
– Have the family members been notified of the prisoner’s release for the weekend?
Until these questions are answered, the people of North Carolina have a right to be worried about convicted killers, habitual offenders, and other criminals getting weekends off before they have fully paid their debt to society.