In March 2013, Gov. Pat McCrory released a budget plan that would close five state prisons in 2014. In May, the state Senate’s budget proposal recommended further closings including Buncombe Correctional Center. The budget proposed by the state House in June recommended additional closings including Buncombe Regional Juvenile Detention Center and Western Youth Correctional Center, which is located just outside of Carolina Public Press’s regional coverage area, in Morganton.

Budget writers recommended the closings in response to declining prison populations, as statewide prisoner counts have slightly decreased for both of the past two years after peaking in 2011.

Buncombe Correctional Center has been in operation since 1989, when it was developed as a work-release facility for inmates who are within five years of their release date or are otherwise eligible. Closing it would result in direct cost savings of $2.4 million annually. However, it is still unclear where prisoners from that facility would be transferred and where other costs would be incurred.

Buncombe Regional Juvenile Detention Center is a small facility that temporarily houses detainees before they are sentenced or until permanent placement is arranged. Daily occupancy costs are shared by the county and state.

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Steph Guinan is a contributing data visualization reporter with Carolina Public Press. Contact her at

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