Central Prison

Central Prison

1300 Western Blvd
Raleigh NC 27606
Fax: 919-715-2645
Custody level: Close
Occupancy: 1884


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Central Prison, completed in December 1884 for $1.25 million, was the first prison built in North Carolina. It took inmates 14 years to construct the original castle-like structure, built with granite quarried just outside the prison’s east wall. The prison is located on 29 acres of land, most of it enclosed by a double wire fence with razor ribbon on top, located west of downtown Raleigh.
The original structure has undergone significant change. In the 1940s, the three-story prison industries building was constructed to house the state license plate fabrication operation and a complete print shop. In the 1960s, an acute care infirmary hospital opened with wards for 86 patients, operating rooms, X-Ray laboratories and a pharmacy. The infirmary now operates a mobile surgical unit for same-day-surgery. In the 1970s, two mental health wings were constructed with a total of 144 single bed rooms.

The prison underwent major renovations in the 1980s. During the $28.8 million first phase of construction, a maximum security housing building with 384 single cells, a custody control and administration building, central services building and central plant utility systems were built. In the $8.6 million second phase of construction, the three-story working resident building was built with single cells for 192 inmates who are assigned jobs within the confines of the prison.

A central security corridor runs the entire length of the institution. All facilities are connected to this corridor that has control stations and sally ports to control access along the corridor and into each building.

The prison serves many functions. It houses the state’s execution chamber, deathwatch area and men’s death row. The infirmary and mental health facility serve the needs of male inmates from around the state. It also serves as a diagnostic center, the point of entry into the prison system for male felons, age 22 years or older, with sentences greater than 20 years.

While security requires that certain inmates remain in their cells, there are more than 260 inmate job assignments to include working in the kitchen, laundry or canteen. Inmates also work as barbers, janitors and clerks.

Classes for adult education and preparation for the GED tests are offered. Inmates may also participate in correspondence college courses or classes offered by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Inmates can attend substance abuse group therapy meetings, play team sports and attend Bible studies or worship services.

Visitation is by appointment and in a non-contact setting. A maximum of 2 adults may visit at a time, or 2 adults and 1 child, or 1 adult and 2 children. Approved persons on an inmate’s visitation list may schedule visits in advance by telephone, in person, by mail, or by email.

On visiting days, visitors check in at the Visitor’s Center at the entrance to the prison and must present a valid, authorized form of photo identification when they check in with the officer at the desk. All visitors are required to conform to the standards of dress as described in the Visitation Rules listed in the “For Offender’s Families” section of this website.

After they have been properly identified as having an appointment they will be issued a numbered, laminated pass to wear into the main building. Their identification and this pass will be checked before they are allowed access to the actual Visitation Center by elevator.

In this spacious, 23-booth facility, inmates are separated from their visitors by a plexiglass window in individual booths, allowing visits to be conducted in privacy. The officer on duty will assign each visitor to a booth upon arrival and will collect the laminated passes when the visit is over.

Regular visits are held on the following days:

Wednesday & Friday
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday
10:30 a.m. am to 11:30 a.m.
Noon to 1 p.m.
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Special Visits:
Extended Visits are available by appointment and with staff approval to those visitors who live over 200 miles from Central Prison, and may be scheduled no more than once every 90 days. Extended visits are held on the following days:

Wednesday & Friday (3 hours)
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday (2 hours)
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Noon to 2 p.m.
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Visits for inmates housed at Central Prison Hospital or outside medical facilities will require scheduling through the Visitor’s Center as with any visit. These visits are subject to time limitations and possibly other restrictions imposed by medical staff based on the inmate’s condition.

Legal Visits are scheduled separately and are subject to different policies than family visits.

DIRECTIONS — Take I-40 to I-440 to the southwest part of Raleigh. From I-440, take the Western Boulevard exit into Raleigh. The prison is at 1300 Western Boulevard.