George Randall, who headed North Carolina's prison systems in the 1960s had a reputation for stressing rehabilitation and work-release programs, saying these community-based programs were "a hard-nosed approach requiring the offender to work to support his family, to pay taxes and to obey the law." In 1969, one of his jobs was to round up the inmates who had failed to return from "yule leave."
The holidays are over for all but one of the more than 450 prison inmates granted Christmas leave.
As for the one -- "We'll get him," said deputy Corrections Commissioner George Randall.
"We only had 12 out of all those people who messed up," Randall said. One escaped, one died, two showed up late. The rest celebrated a little too much and ran afoul of laws against intoxication.
"A couple of guys were drunk on return to the prison," Randall said. "Three more were drunk and picked up by police. One went to sleep while drunk and set fire to a sofa. Another was arrested for driving under the influence, hit and run and damage to property.
"And another one was picked up for being drunk and threatening his wife."
Randall was pleased with the results. "Only 12 out of 450 isn't bad at all. And only one not showing up out of the 12 is really good.
"Last year, we had about 80 out for Christmas leave and only two of them got in trouble, so we've got a pretty good thing going." Randall added. "It looks like everybody's had a pretty merry Christmas."
Those granted Christmas leave were given from one to four days of freedom.
Included also were inmates whose sentences were set to expire between Dec. 22 and Jan. 1.
To qualify for the four-day home visit, an inmate must have been in the work release program 60 days or more and be on honor grade. Around 100 inmates on work release for 60 days -- but with no previous trips home -- received a one-day holiday beginning Christmas Eve and ending the night of Christmas Day.
Randall said some didn't qualify due to a number of things. "Mainly, we didn't feel they had the proper home atmosphere to return to and, in some cases, a kind of home atmosphere they didn't want to go back to at Christmas." -- The Raleigh Times 12/30/1969
George Randall (right) points out some of the features of Central Prison to a visiting professor in 1962.