The New Law and Order: Working Towards Equitable and Community-Centered Policing in North Carolina

The North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (NCCRED), the Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy, and the Wake Forest School of Law Criminal Justice Program, present “The New Law and Order: Working Towards Equitable and Community-Centered Policing in North Carolina” on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in the Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312. The event is free and open to the public. Four hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit from the North Carolina Bar Association has been approved.
Click for more information on the event and registration.

Campaign Aims to Reduce Use of Police Officers in Schools

On September 5, 2017, Donald Trump revoked the program DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). DACA was originally established under the Obama administration and allowed individuals who entered the United States as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation.  The revocation puts thousands of undocumented students at risk for deportation.  For those currently in the program, their permits will start to expire in March 2018 – all Dreamers (those protected by DACA) will lose status by March 2020.
In response, the Advancement Project and Puente Movement Arizona have teamed up to fight the revocation. Puente recently launched a campaign – #CopsOuttaCampus – to remove school resource officers from Phoenix Union High School. Arizona state law requires officers to ask about a student’s immigration status once they’re arrested, so the only way to protect undocumented students is to get cops off of school campus. The Advancement Project works to support the campaign as well as the general effort to dismantle the school-to-prison and school-to-deportation pipeline.
To learn more, check out #CopsOuttaCampus on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Mecklenburg County Gets Big Grant for Criminal Justice Reform

The John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced a $2 million grant to Mecklenburg County’s Department of Criminal Justice Services to continue building on local efforts to implement criminal justice system reforms and safely reduce Mecklenburg County’s jail population. The grant is part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, a more than $100 million national initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

The grant will be used by Mecklenburg County’s Department of Criminal Justice Services and partners to provide additional support and expert technical assistance to implement strategies that address the main drivers of local jail incarceration, including unfair and ineffective practices that take a particularly heavy toll on people of color, low-income communities, and people with mental health and substance abuse issues.

More information about the work underway in Mecklenburg County can be found on www.mecknc.gov.

Man Faces Death Penalty Because He Refused Plea Agreement

Rejecting a plea agreement means facing the death penalty for the unlucky defendants in North Carolina who live in the handful of counties that pursue the death penalty. As of 2012, only 14 of the 100 counties in North Carolina have  sought the death penalty at trial.  Norman Kennard Carter, Jr., awaiting trial in Forsyth County, is one of the unlucky defendants.  He is charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Alphonso Singletary in September of 2016. Carter agreed to enter a guilty plea to life without the possibility of parole, but changed his mind during the plea hearing.
Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill’s office immediately requested to seek the death penalty in the case. The district attorney’s office has full discretion in deciding to pursue the death penalty. The presiding judge granted the request.  Carter’s attorney asked the district attorney’s office to keep the option of accepting the plea agreement open until December 2017.  The District Attorney’s office agreed to keep the plea on the table until December, but it has full discretion to revoke this agreement at any time.
In the last 10 years, Forsyth County is responsible for placing one out of every five people on death row in North Carolina.  The question citizens should ask themselves is this:
  • If the DA was willing to accept a life without the possibility of parole sentence, why would he not then simply proceed to trial without seeking the death penalty?
  • If convicted, Carter will still face the life without the possibility of parole the DA felt was an appropriate punishment when it offered the plea agreement. Is it possible that the DA is punishing this defendant for not accepting a plea agreement by making him face the death penalty?
  • Is this they way YOU want your district attorney to make life or death decisions about your fellow citizens?

CJPC Criminal Justice Voter Education Campaign

As recent months have unfolded, we are all bombarded with news of threats to the dreams of dreamers, state-sanctioned hatred in many forms, and a return to a criminal justice system that seeks to address social problems by locking people away. As soon as we are presented with one battle to be fought, another one surfaces. In times such as these, what can we do to protect our communities? One answer is to dig deeper into the power that we have as citizens of a democratic society. We must continue to vote. This means educating ourselves about the roles of all elected officials, not just those we hear about regularly. Carolina Justice Policy Center, CJPC, is launching a new voter education initiative to do just that.
Some elected officials that we regularly overlook are those who operate within our criminal justice system. Sheriffs, District Attorneys (DAs), Judges, and County Commissioners collectively have the power to change lives in profound ways. In North Carolina, a sheriff is the highest ranking law enforcement officer in each county. While specific duties may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, all sheriffs have duties related to three branches of law enforcement including policing, courts/criminal justice, and corrections/jail. The District Attorney (DA) is the elected public official in each county who represents the state in the prosecution of all criminal matters. North Carolina Judges preside over courtroom proceedings.  While these are the basic roles of these officers, the impact they can have on the life of an average citizen is far from basic.

 

Carolina Justice Policy Center has prepared an educational program aimed at educating voters on the roles these elected official play and giving you the tools that you need to make sure your voice is heard when developing policies and practices in their respective offices. CJPC wants to come to your meetings, gatherings, churches and community events to educate and empower. If you are interested in CJPC presenting to your group, please call Attorney Dawn Blagrove, Executive Director of CJPC, at 919-682-1149 or via email at dblagrove@justicepolicycenter.org.