North Carolina will try for the first time to treat sex offenders in the state's prisons with a new program being set up in Harnett County.
The North Carolina Board of Correction approved the volunteer program Thursday in a meeting in Lumberton.``You have just made history,' said Secretary of Correction Aaron Johnson after the board's unanimous vote.
The purpose of the program is to protect the public by discouraging deviant behavior from reappearing when offenders are released from prison, said Alan Harrop of the Division of Prisons' Mental Health and Psychological Services.
Harrop said North Carolina has 2,300 sex offenders in its prisons, and there are an additional 1,000 inmates whose offenses had a sexual motivation - such as assault on a girlfriend.
``We are trying really to turn the lives of inmates around,' Johnson told The Fayetteville Observer.
The program is a small beginning, but it is a giant step in the right direction of making sex offenders fit for release, Johnson said.
Harrop said the inpatient treatment program will begin with 24 beds at the Harnett County Corrections Center in Lillington, where volunteers will get three to four months of intensive treatment specifically for their sex problems.
Inmates may be transferred to the residential program from other units, but all will be isolated from other prisoners, he said.