NC Medicaid and NC Health Choice Transformation Request for Public Input

Between April 25 and May 25, NC Medicaid and NC Health Choice Transformation will be requesting public input regarding various topics, including increasing access to care and treating substance use disorders. For dates, times, and locations of public input sessions, visit

Court of Appeals Judge Retires Early, Thwarts Court Reduction Plan

North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Douglas Mc Cullogh has retired early and given Roy Cooper the power to appoint his replacement. This came as a surprise, as he was expected to retire at the end of May. This followed a power struggle over a bill that would reduce the number of Court of Appeals judges to 12 from 15. This bill passed on April 27th, preventing Cooper from making reappointments for the other two vacancies expected to open as Republican judges approach mandatory retirement.

Raise the Age Press Conference

On May 1, a press conference was hosted by Chief Justice Mark Martin to discuss efforts to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina. Those in attendance included a sampling of judges, attorneys, community and advocacy organizations, DPS officials, and faith leaders. The press conference follows the recent development of North Carolina becoming the only state in nation to automatically try 16 and 17 year olds in adult court. Various speakers shared their support including former Lieutenant Governor Jim Gardner, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, U.S Magistrate Judge William Webb, and Representative Murray.

Some facts shared about Raise the Age included that a recent Civitas poll indicated that 70 percent of North Carolinians supported raising the age, and that a DPS survey indicated that over 90 percent of parents already thought that 18 was the age of jurisdiction. The effort to raise the age now has the support of the John Locke Foundation, Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform, the Sheriff’s Association, the Chief of Police Association, and the NC Police Benevolent Association.

A more emotional appeal came from former Governor Lieutenant Gardner, who said that he was offering his support as a grandfather of 9 children. He shared his belief that mistakes made as children should not follow individuals throughout adulthood, and that raising the age was “long overdue.”

Death Penalty Champion, Darryl Hunt, Honored with Scholarship by Z. Smith Reynolds

“Darryl Hunt’s spirit spoke innocence,” said Dr. John Mendez of Emmanuel Baptist Church. This was a beautiful and succinct description of Mr. Hunt, who dedicated his life to eradicating the death penalty.  He spent 19 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.  Once exonerated, he dedicated the remainder of his life to giving a voice to inmates, whom are some of the most marginalized among us.

A small group of his colleagues, friends, and loved ones gathered at Emmanuel Baptist Church on March 13, 2017.  At that gathering,  Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation announced plans to create a $100,00 endowed scholarship fund that will be used to help previously incarcerated Forsyth County residents pursue higher education.  The first scholarship will be awarded in 2018.

Mr. Hunt worked closely with the Carolina Justice Policy Center, as was acknowledged during the endowment announcement.  Together, we fought to promote real, sustainable awareness and change in the criminal justice system and to eliminate the death penalty.  We were forever changed as an organization by standing beside Darryl in his endeavors.  This endowment is a wonderful extension of Darryl’s work and legacy.

You can read details on the endowment.

Florida Prosecutor Announces She Will No Longer Seek Death Sentences

Prosecutors have the power to essentially stop the use of the death penalty.  How? By pledging not to charge any defendants capitally.  It really is that simple.  Prosecutors have total control over whether a case is tried as a death penalty case or a case with the maximum punishment of life without the possibility of parole. One prosecutor in Florida is doing just this to take a stand against the use of the death penalty in America.

District Attorney Aramis Ayala, the newly elected and first Black Female state attorney for Orange and Osceola Counties in Florida, has pledged not to pursue the death penalty in any case, according to Slate.  In the same article, Ayala was quoted as saying, “While I have discretion to pursue the death penalty, I have determined that doing so is not in the best interest of the community or the best interest of justice,”

Carolina Justice Policy Center commends the stand against the death penalty taken by District Attorney Aramis Ayala.  In North Carolina, where no one has been executed in over 10 years, we need district attorneys to join with the shifting consciousness of America and reject the death penalty as a form of punishment.

Read more on District Attorney Aramis Ayala’s courageous stand against the death penalty.