The North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission was created by the General Assembly in 1990 to make recommendations to the General Assembly for the modification of sentencing laws and policies, and for the addition, deletion, or expansion of sentencing options as necessary to achieve policy goals. Specifically, the Commission was directed to:
- Classify criminal offenses into felony and misdemeanor categories on the basis of their severity;
- Recommend structures for use by a sentencing court in determining the most appropriate sentence to be imposed in a criminal case;
- Develop a correctional population simulation model;
- Recommend a comprehensive community corrections strategy and organizational structure for the State; and,
- Study and make additional policy recommendations.
The Commission has 28 members drawn from all three branches of government; from all areas of the criminal justice system; and from the public. The Commission's prior work led to the passage of the Structured Sentencing Act which became effective in 1994. That law established truth in sentencing and prescribed sentencing options for judges based on the severity of the crime and the prior record of the offender.