Peer Specialist Support Training Opportunity

Promise Resource Network is offering an intense, 40-hour training, for Peer Support Specialist Certification from March 6 through March, 10. The professional development course includes coursework, homework, class exercises and sharing recovery stories.

Peer Support Specialists are people who provide support as mentors to others in recovery by using their own recovery story as motivation and guidance. The sense of being on the journey with the person in recovery is central to the success of the Peer Support system.

You can learn more about the qualifications and registration for this training.

US Supreme Court Cites Racial Prejudice to Order New Sentencing Hearing in Death Penalty Case

In a 6-2 ruling, the United State Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of Duane Buck.  Justice Thomas and Justice Alito dissented.

According to the New York Times, the Court indicated the case as was riddled with   “particularly noxious strains of racial prejudice.” Specifically, a psychologist testified that Black defendants were more dangerous than white ones.

While this is a Texas case, we know that race has historically played a role in death penalty cases in North Carolina. The racial bias in North Carolina death penalty cases was strongly documented through the Racial Justice Act cases that are still being litigated.   This is yet another example of why it is time for North Carolina to reexamine our continued use of the death penalty.

Read more on this important ruling.

Attorney General Sessions Issues Memo Reversing Ban on Private Prisons

Weeks into his new role, Attorney General Sessions has started  rolling back important positive steps in the criminal justice system put into place during the Obama Administration. In this case, Attorney General Sessions issued a memo rescinding the 6 month old Obama directive to end the use of privately run prisons.

According to the New York Post, AG Sessions believes that the Bureau of Prisons needs to use private prisons to meet the future needs of the federal corrections system.  While this reversal is disappointing, it is not entirely unexpected.  It is imperative that those who care about positive criminal justice reform take a stand against policies that move the nation backwards.

Read more on this policy reversal.

“Citizens Protection Act of 2017” – Limits Pretrial Release for Undocumented Immigrants

The House bill entitled “Citizens Protection Act of 2017” seems to be designed to do anything but protect some of the most vulnerable among us.

The  bill threatens to withhold funds from sanctuary cities who do not enforce federal immigration laws and makes it difficult for undocumented immigrants to  post pretrial bail.   The bill would allow judges to refuse bail for undocumented immigrants who are charged with a driving offense, drug crime, gang crime, or any other crime if  wanted by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)

Sponsored by Republican Representatives Warren, Collins, Jordan, and Adams, the bill was met with strong opposition.  Representatives from ACLU of North Carolina, El Pueblo, Students from NC State University, and immigration attorneys all opposed the bill. Questions about the constitutionality and the inherently discriminatory provisions of the bill were raised.  There is no real justification for making the bar to pretrial release  much higher for this group of people.

The bill has yet to be set for a  committee vote.  Read more about the bill.

DWI Treatment Court and Driver’s License Restoration

A bill introduced by Senators Jim Davis (R-Cherokee) and Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe) would give DWI Treatment Court judges one more tool to help make North Carolina roads safer. The idea behind the bill came from a DWI Treatment Court judge who wants to incentivize recovery for DWI defendants.

The desired outcome of the bill is to increase the number of people successfully completing treatment by offering the restoration of driving privileges. Hopefully, more people completing the program will mean safer roads. The reinstatement of driving privileges does not come without some restrictions and costs.  Drivers with these conditional re-instated licenses must have and use an ignition interlock system installed in all cars they drive for the duration of the original revocation period.

The bill would allow judges to conditionally reinstate a revoked drivers license after one year if the defendant provides a certificate of graduation from a Drug or DWI Treatment or Court Program, gets a letter of recommendation from the judge, and pays a $25 fee. The bill sponsor stated that MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) supports the proposal.

The bill met with mixed review by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Randleman (R-Stokes, Surry, Wilkes) expressed concern that the bill might create the impression of favoritism for individuals with access to the few DWI Treatment Courts around the state.   Senator Barringer (R-Wake) was generally favorable towards the bill, but had some concerns about costs.

The bill needs a majority vote to make it out of the Judiciary Committee.

Mental Health and Criminal Justice Collaboration Grant – Update

As we reported in our last update, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is seeking applications for funding for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. The purpose of this grant is to help communities create and continue cross-system collaborations for people with mental health issues that may become justice involved. To promote the grant, a series of webinars were presented to help grant seekers understand the process.

Units of local government are eligible to apply for this grant. To be considered for the grant the application must demonstrate that the proposed project involves collaboration between criminal justice and mental health agencies. The deadline for submission for this grant is April 4, 2017. The application can be accessed online.

You can also view a recorded webinar on the grant project and application process.