For North Carolina lawmakers, the response to the state’s growing prison population over the past decade has been consistent — build more prisons, reports the Raleigh News and Observer. It is the most expensive option, with prisons costing tens of millions of dollars to build. But when state Rep. Ronnie Sutton, a Democrat, challenged his colleagues last week at a meeting of House and Senate budget committees to consider a different course, lawmakers burst out laughing.
Sutton suggested that lawmakers put more money into prevention instead of incarceration and asked, “Is there anyone who thinks that we are going to change our mode of operation?” North Carolina’s prison population is expected to hit 40,000 inmates next year. State officials say growth in prison population is largely due to growth in the overall state population.