Article Highlights Changes Necessary to Prevent Excessive Use of Force in Police Departments

As the topic of police brutality becomes more widely discussed, police departments are taking proactive steps to reduce excessive use of force. In a recent article by the Washington Post, authors examine what it takes to reduce deadly shootings. Some measures being adopted by police departments include the adoption of clear strong policies, adequate ongoing training that provides opportunities to practice in scenario-based exercises, and changing the culture of departments to reward successful de-escalation. The article describes various police departments that have been successful in reducing the use of force using these strategies. To learn more, click here.

U.S. Imprisonment Has Dropped Since 2008 Peak

The U.S Imprisonment rate has dropped 11% since peaking in 2008, according to the Pew Charitable Trust Public Safety Performance Project. This marks the lowest rate since 1997. The decrease has coincided with long-term reductions in crime. Since 2008, combined national and property crime rates have dropped 23 percent. 36 states have experienced this decrease in imprisonment, with declines of 15 percent or more in more than 20 states. To learn more, click here.

CJPC Assesses Needs of Returning Citizens as Part of State Reentry Council Collaborative

The State Reentry Council Collaborative was created by the General Assembly to study the needs of individuals with criminal records as they return from correctional institutions. The goal of the council is to improve the effectiveness of local reentry councils. Members of the council include various governmental agencies, faith-based and community-based nonprofits, and local reentry council intermediary agencies.

On Tuesday, February 6th, the council met to continue its important work. Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein were in attendance. The council is divided into work groups which examine specific needs, including housing, transportation, employment, mental and physical healthcare, educational and vocational training, faith and community based support, advocacy and communications, family reunification and support, and legal assistance. Carolina Justice Policy Center serves on the advocacy and communications workgroup, with the goal of educating the public about the needs of returning citizens and how successful transition is critical to public safety.

Democracy NC Provides Voter Information Cards for Women

Inspired by the 2018 Women’s Marches focused on taking women’s “power to the polls”, Democracy NC has created “Women Vote in 2018” postcards for distribution. The cards feature important information about this year’s justice elections, including elections of sheriffs, judges, and district attorneys in 2018. Postcards should arrive a few days after submission of an order and are provided for free. For a preview of the postcard, click here.

Judicial Redistricting On Hold…For Now

After what seemed like a special session with no end, the North Carolina General Assembly finally adjourned on February 13, 2018. The good news is that opponents to the proposed judicial redistricting plan were able to stave off a vote that has the potential to drastically change the diversity and make up of the North Carolina judicial branch. The bad news is that when NCGA returns to session in May, or possibly before, this debate will quickly heat up again.

CJPC will keep you up to date on this important issues. For a quick overview of where things stand, click here.

Charges Dismissed After Prosecutors Hide Evidence

While prosecutors have a large amount of discretion in their work, they are not permitted to hide evidence that could be exculpatory for a defendant.

In a recent Colorado case, prosecutors possessed two reports that that pointed to other suspects since the beginning of the case, yet disclosed them 15 months after defendant David Bueno was convicted.

Bueno and codefendent Alex Perez were charged in 2004 with the stabbing death of inmate Jeffrey Heird at Limon Correctional Facility. The state sought the death penalty against them.

Defense attorneys had specifically asked for evidence relating to the other suspects mentioned in the report. The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of charges against Bueno and Perez.

Such prosecutorial misconduct is an example of the importance of holding prosecutors accountable both in the courtroom and at the ballot box.