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What is the New Hanover County Prison?

Ben Steelman

Now called the New Hanover County Correctional Facility, the prison began in 1915 as a two-story concrete structure, built by New Hanover County to house 200 county inmates. Located just off the Castle Hayne road, it was North Carolina’s first permanent county prison. The facility was considered modern for its time, with electricity, modern plumbing and central heating. Inmates were segregated into two large rooms — one for blacks, one for whites — separated by a guard room.

In 1928, the facility was remodeled and expanded to accommodate 250 inmates.

The state of North Carolina took over administration of the prison in 1931, with the passage of the Conner bill. It became one of 61 field unit prions used to house inmates who worked on the roads.

Two modular dormitories were added in 1978, but were later replaced with more permanent facilities. A 50-bed dormitory opened in 1988; additional dormitories, with an additional 250 beds, were opened in 1992 as part of a $55 million prison construction program.

The original building was renovated and reopened in the autumn of 1994 as classroom and office space. An additional 18-bed dormitory was added to segregate minimum-custody inmates who need to be separate from the general population for administrative or disciplinary reasons.

The facility at 330 Division Drive, Wilmington [Map this], is now used to house adult inmate under minimum security. Its official capacity is 402 inmates, supervised by a staff of 112. Many of the inmates still work on road crews in a three-county area, although some 78 inmates work in the laundry at New Hanover Memorial Hospital. Others are assigned to housekeeping, kitchen duties, maintenance and contract labor. More than 50 inmates hold jobs in the community under a work-release program.

Cape Fear Community College offers adult education classes within the prison to help inmates prepare for GED exams. Courses are also available in industrial electricity and horticulture.

Regular visitation is on Saturdays. The population is divided in half by alphabet, with half receiving visitors from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the rest from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, contact the New Hanover Correctional Center at (910) 251-2666.

User-contributed question by:
Daphne Eason

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