Labor of Prisoners.
§ 148-26. State policy on employment of prisoners.
(a) It is declared to be the public policy of the State of North Carolina that all able-bodied prison inmates shall be required to perform diligently all work assignments provided for them. The failure of any inmate to perform such a work assignment may result in disciplinary action. Work assignments and employment shall be for the public benefit to reduce the cost of maintaining the inmate population while enabling inmates to acquire or retain skills and work habits needed to secure honest employment after their release.
In exercising his power to enter into contracts to supply inmate labor as provided by this section, the Secretary of Public Safety shall not assign any inmate to work under any such contract who is eligible for work release as provided in this Article, study release as provided by G.S. 148-4(4), or who is eligible for a program of vocational rehabilitation services through the State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, unless suitable work release employment or educational opportunity cannot be found for the inmate, and the inmate is not eligible for a program of vocational rehabilitation services through the State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, and shall not agree to supply inmate labor for any project or service unless it meets all of the following criteria:
(1) The project or service involves a type of work by which inmates can develop a skill to better equip themselves to return to society;
(2) The project or service is of benefit to the citizens of North Carolina or units of State or local government thereof, regardless of whether the project or service is performed on public or private property;
(3) Repealed by Session Laws 1977, c. 824, s. 2.
(4) Wages shall be paid in an amount not exceeding one dollar ($1.00) per day per inmate by the local or State contracting agency.
(b) As many minimum custody prisoners as are available and fit for road work, who cannot appropriately be placed on work release, study release, or other full-time programs, and as many medium custody prisoners as are available, fit for road work and can be adequately guarded during such work without reducing security levels at prison units, shall be employed in the maintenance and construction of public roads of the State. The number and location of prisoners to be kept available for work on the public roads shall be agreed upon by the governing authorities of the Department of Transportation and the Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety far enough in advance of each budget to permit proper provisions to be made in the request for appropriations submitted by the Department of Transportation. Any dispute between the Departments will be resolved by the Governor. Prisoners so employed shall be compensated, at rates fixed by the Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety's rules and regulations for work performed; provided, that no prisoner working on the public roads under the provisions of this section shall be paid more than one dollar ($1.00) per day from funds provided by the Department of Transportation to the Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety for this purpose. The Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation shall develop a program to be implemented no later than July 1, 1982, to the extent money is herein appropriated, which shall include:
(1) The use of portable toilets for inmate road crews.
(c) As many of the male prisoners available and fit for forestry work shall be employed in the development and improvement of state-owned forests as can be used for this purpose by the agencies controlling these forests.
(d) The remainder of the able-bodied inmates of the State prison system shall be employed so far as practicable in prison industries and agriculture, giving preference to the production of food supplies and other articles needed by state-supported institutions or activities.
(e) The Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety may make such contracts with departments, institutions, agencies, and political subdivisions of the State for the hire of prisoners to perform other appropriate work as will help to make the prisons as nearly self-supporting as is consistent with the purposes of their creation. The Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety may contract with any person or any group of persons for the hire of prisoners for forestry work, soil erosion control, water conservation, hurricane damage prevention, or any similar work certified by the Secretary of Environmental Quality as beneficial in the conservation of the natural resources of this State. All contracts for the employment of prisoners shall provide that they shall be fed, clothed, quartered, guarded, and otherwise cared for by the Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety. Such work may include but is not limited to work with State or local government agencies in cleaning, construction, landscaping and maintenance of roads, parks, nature trails, bikeways, cemeteries, landfills or other government-owned or operated facilities.
(e1) The Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety may establish work assignments for inmates or allow inmates to volunteer in service projects that benefit units of State or local government or 501(c)(3) entities that serve the citizens of this State. The work assignments may include the use of inmate labor and the use of Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety resources in the production of finished goods. Any products made pursuant to this section shall not be subject to the provisions of Article 3A of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes and may be donated to the government unit or 501(c)(3) organization at no cost.
(f) Adult inmates of the State prison system shall be prohibited from working at or being on the premises of any schools or institutions operated or administered by the Youth Development Section of the Division of Juvenile Justice of the Department of Public Safety unless a complete sight and sound barrier is erected and maintained during the course of the labor performed by the adult inmates.
(g) The Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety shall establish rules, standards, and procedures for establishing inmate labor services contracts with any county or municipality expressing interest in contracting for inmate labor. (1933, c. 172, ss. 1, 14; 1957, c. 349, s. 5; 1967, c. 996, s. 13; 1971, c. 193; 1973, c. 1262, s. 86; 1975, c. 278; c. 506, ss. 1, 2; c. 682, s. 2; c. 716, s. 7; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; c. 802, s. 25.36; c. 824, ss. 1-3; 1981, c. 516; 1981 (Reg. Sess., 1982), c. 1400; 1989, c. 727, s. 218(156); 1997-443, s. 11A.123; 1999-237, s. 18.21; 2001-95, s. 8; 2007-398, s. 1; 2011-145, s. 19.1(h), (i), (l); 2012-83, ss. 59, 61; 2015-241, s. 14.30(v).)