When Is Your Sentence Up? North Carolina’s Post-Release Supervision Program

Parole was eliminated in North Carolina in 1994, when the legislature enacted structured sentencing. Instead, those who receive structured sentences from that point forward are eligible for post-release supervision (PRS). Those who committed crimes prior to the enactment of structured sentencing are still eligible for parole and are governed by the laws in effect at the time of their crime.

What Is Post-Release Supervision?

As of 2011, the Justice Reinvestment Act required all individuals convicted of a felony-level offense, sentenced to an active prison time to go through a period of post-release supervision for a specified time period, depending on the offense level of their conviction:

  • Class B1- E felony conviction: 12 months PRS
  • Class F - I felony conviction: 9 months PRS

Those sentenced to life without parole for a Class A felony or Class B1 felony are not eligible for post-release supervision; the offender will not be released from prison until death. Other Class B1 felony convictions that do not result in a life sentence are eligible for PRS. Post-release supervision for those convicted of a sex offense and sentenced to register as a sex offender is five years.

The North Carolina legislature outlined four goals of post-release supervision:

  • To monitor and control the prisoner in the community
  • To assist the prisoner in reintegrating into society
  • To collect restitution and other court indebtedness from the prisoner
  • To continue the prisoner's treatment or education

Mandatory post-release supervision for all felony level offenders in North Carolina is intended to lower the number of reoffenders, reducing recidivism by providing structured monitoring to those re-entering private life after a prison term. During this time, conditions are placed on the individual by the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission that may include a restriction on committing other crimes, treatment requirements, restrictions on carrying a weapon and a variety of other issues.

When Is An Inmate Eligible For Post-Release Supervision?

Under the structured sentencing system, a person convicted of a felony-level offense given an active sentence will be sentenced to a range of time in prison that includes both a minimum and maximum time period. A felony offender must serve 100 percent of the minimum sentence and at least 85 percent of the maximum sentence before being eligible for release from prison to PRS.

Information about North Carolinas Post Release Supervision program

An offender who has been given an active sentence will be released from prison into the supervised release program 12 months before the date of his or her maximum sentence if convicted of a Class B1 through Class E felony. An inmate will be released from prison to the supervised release program 9 months before the date of his or her maximum sentence if convicted of a Class F through Class I felony.

If the offender is released before the PRS date because of applicable credits against his or her sentence or because he or she has served the minimum sentence and is otherwise eligible for release, that person will then spend another 9-12 months on supervised release.

Post-release supervision is mandatory. You cannot choose not to participate. If you do not cooperate with the terms of your post-release supervision, you can go back to prison.

For those who are sentenced on multiple felony counts, there will be only one PRS term of either 9 or 12 months, as applicable. To determine the minimum time that you must serve in prison, the minimum sentences for all convicted offenses are added together. To determine the maximum time that you must serve in prison, the maximum sentences for all convicted offenses that must be served consecutively are added together and then the PRS terms for the second and any subsequent offenses are subtracted.

This may be confusing. If you have questions about post-release supervision, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. An understanding of North Carolina's structured sentencing system and how active prison terms can be shortened through the PRS process is something you should look for in any defense attorney you hire.

More information: Sentencing in North Carolina.

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North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.