The NC Second Chance Alliance is a statewide alliance of people with criminal records, their family members, service providers, congregations, community leaders and concerned citizens that have come together to address the causes of criminal records and the barriers they create to successful reentry.
Consider these figures:
- In 1970, less than 10,000 people were incarcerated in North Carolina. Today, more than 37,000 people (ages 16 and up) are incarcerated in one of North Carolina’s 55 state prisons. There are an additional 20,000 people confined in local jails, 85,000 people on supervised probation, and 12,000 people on post-release supervision or parole.
- At least 2 million North Carolinians have criminal records. The National Employment Law Project estimates 1 in 3 adults in the United States have criminal records.
- In FY 2015/2016, it cost the NC Department of Public Safety an average of $89.30 per day to incarcerate a person. The average total cost per person per year was $32,594.
- For additional figures see the Prison Policy Initiative’s North Carolina profile here.
- Black people represent 22 percent of North Carolina’s total population, but account for 55 percent of the state’s prison population.
- The lifetime chance of being incarcerated for a Black male in the United States is 25 percent, compared to 15 percent for a Hispanic male and less than 5 percent for a White male.
- Black people and White people use illegal drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of Black people for possession of illegal drugs is almost 6 times that of White people.
- A Black person convicted of the same crime as a White person receives, on average, a longer prison sentence.
- For additional figures see the NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet here.
- 8 percent of the children in North Carolina—or 179,000 people in our state who are less than 18 years old today—have experienced parental incarceration.
- 1 in 28 children has a parent who is currently incarcerated, including 1 in 9 Black children, 1 in 28 Hispanic children, and 1 in 57 White children.
- Over 50% of children who have an incarcerated parent are age 9 or younger.
- Having a parent in prison is one of 10 “adverse childhood experiences” (ACES) which significantly increase the person’s risk for chronic disease and a shorter life.
- Over half of incarcerated parents were the primary source of financial support for their children prior to incarceration.
- Men are housed in prisons an average of 100 miles away from their children while women are an average of 160 miles away. 1 in 3 families accrue debt due to the high cost of phone calls and visits to prison.
- For additional information see here and here.
Collateral Consequences and Recidivism
- 98% of incarcerated individuals will eventually leave prison and return home.
- Today, more than 90 percent of large employers conduct criminal background checks. Too often, employers automatically deny applicants based on dismissed charges, long-ago convictions, and convictions not at all related to the qualifications and responsibilities of the job.
- A job applicant with a criminal record is 50 percent less likely to receive a call back. The negative impact of a criminal record is twice as large for Black applicants.
- More than 1000 state laws and regulations potentially deny North Carolinians a wide range of privileges and rights based on a criminal record.
- A study by the Vera Institute of Justice found that people released from prison and jail to parole who entered homeless shelters in NYC were seven times more likely to abscond during the first month after release than those who had some form of housing.
- 48 percent of North Carolinians released from prison in 2013 were rearrested within 2 years and 21 percent were re-incarcerated.
- For additional information see here.
What is clear to members of the NC Second Chance Alliance is that the current system of incarceration and re-incarceration is not working. Our state’s unfair, revolving-door criminal justice system is undermining the safety of our communities, draining our state’s resources, and failing people with criminal records, especially people of color. We have come together to identify and speak out in support of fair chance practices, policies, and laws that ensure people exiting the criminal justice system have a fair chance to be prosperous, law-abiding community members rather than being automatically excluded from essential opportunities and cycled back into the criminal justice system.