Prisons & Jails

Prisoner walking inside the exercise area outside a prison. High netted fencing with barbed wire in front and part of the prison visible in background.

Prisons & Jails Issues

People with disabilities are landing in North Carolina prisons, jails and juvenile correction facilities at an alarming rate. Mental illness is criminalized. This means N.C. Department of Public Safety confines more people with serious mental illness than are treated in our largest psychiatric hospital. Today 19% of the prison population is identified as needing mental health treatment – about 6,000 people. And there are many people in our prisons and jails with disabilities who are not treated or accommodated. There are only 250 people are identified with an IDD (out of 35,000) and there is no screening for a Traumatic Brain Injury. Last year prison leaders reported that 70% of people in NC prisons have a substance use disorder or a dual treatment need for substance use and mental health. Every juvenile in the Youth Development Centers was needing treatment for a disability.

News and Resources:

Fact Sheets

Interacting with Law Enforcement – Fact sheet


Suicide Rates at Record High in 2019 (June 2020)

UPDATE to 2013-16 report: Suicides in NC Jails October 2019

Study: Restrictive Housing During Incarceration Associated With Mortality After Release

Suicides in NC Jails August 2017

COVID-19 in prisons and jails

COVID-19 in prisons and jails



image of the first page of the "Suicide in NC Jails" Image of empty jail cell with title of report above, and DRNC logo below

Suicide Rates in NC Jails at Record Highs

Suicide Rates in NC Jails at Record Highs but Sheriffs Block Reforms For Immediate Release 6/02/2020 Contact: Susan Pollitt: 919-856-2195 ext. 224, or Luke Woollard: 919-856-2195 ext. 211, A report issued today by Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC)
The hands of several prisoners gripping bars of their cell

Increased outbreaks in correctional facilities because social distancing is impossible

Increased outbreaks in correctional facilities because social distancing is impossible    North Carolina prisons and jails are petri dishes for corona virus. “COVID-19 will spread like wildfire in our overcrowded, unhygienic prisons, and present a health risk to entire communities,”
Prisoner's hands sticking through prison bars

Social Distancing Impossible in Overcrowded Jails

Social distancing impossible in overcrowded jails: DRNC urges immediate action North Carolina jails are chronically overcrowded, making social distancing impossible. Jail overcrowding breaks down the basic function of the jails, according to the DOJ National Institute for Corrections. In 2018,