“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.

Legislature Reconvenes – New Committee Chairs Appointed

The legislature reconvened on Wednesday and new committee appointments were made.  The committees – and committee chairs – that will be particularly important for criminal justice issues are listed below.

Take a minute to see if a member from your area is listed as one of the full or subcommittee chairs.  You can also click on the links to see if  someone from your area is a member of one of these key committees.

Send us an email at info@justicepolicycenter.org if you are willing to help educate key members from your area on critical issues.

Full Appropriations Chairs

Dollar (Wake), Arp (Union), Faircloth (Guilford), Johnson (Cabarrus),  Lambeth (Forsyth)

Rep. Faircloth is a former Justice and Public Safety chair and will continue a JPS focus as a full chair.

Justice and Public Safety Appropriations Chairs
Boles (Moore), Davis (New Hanover), McNeil (Moore), Turner (Iredell)

Department of Health and Human Services Appropriations
Brisson (Bladen, Johnson, Sampson), Dobson (Avery, McDowell, Mitchell), Malone (Wake), Murphy (Pitt)

Judiciary I – Davis (New Hanover)
Judiciary II – Blust (Guilford)
Judiciary III – Co-Chairs  –  Jordan (Ashe, Watauga), Zachary (Alexander, Wilkes, Yadkin)
Judiciary IV – Co-Chairs -Blackwell (Ashe, Watauga), Burr (Montgomery, Stanly, Avery)

Full Appropriations Chairs
Brown (Jones, Onslow), Harrington (Gaston), B. Jackson (Duplin, Johnston, Sampson)

Justice and Public Safety Chairs
Daniel (Burke, Cleveland),  Randleman (Stokes, Surry, Wilkes), Sanderson (Cartaret, Craven, Pamlico)

Senate Judiciary
Co-Chairs – Barringer (Wake), Daniel (Burke, Cleveland), Randleman (Stokes, Surry, Wilkes)

HK on J March Set for Feb 11

Join the NAACP and more than 200 coalition partners in downtown Raleigh for the annual Historic Thousands on Jones St. (HK on J)  Moral March. Together we will march for a more fair and just North Carolina.

Saturday, Feb. 11, Downtown Raleigh, 2 East South St.

This is a great chance to make your voice heard on important issues  such as racial justice and fairness in the courts, voting rights, immigrant rights, healthcare and medicaid expansion.

Re-entry Grants Awarded

In mid-January, the Department of Public Safety awarded Re-entry contracts to  four additional “Intermediate Agencies” areas of the state.   Five areas are currently funded.

The new areas and agencies are:

  • Leading into New Communities –  New Hanover
  • Durham County – Durham
  • Family Resource Center South Atlantic – Wake
  • Freedom Life Ministries –  McDowell

Agencies received $150,000 each to coordinate local re-entry councils and job development for the re-entry population.

We are delighted to see funding for Re-entry Council work move forward.  All funding is expected to be short term and agencies are expected to identify local funding.  We would like to see some state funds be allocated to this purpose  to insure the continuation of the Councils.

Senate Rules on Gov. Cooper’s Cabinet Confirmation – Part 2

After issuing a very general set of Rules in early January that will govern the manner in which the Senate would give advice and consent, Gov. Roy Cooper’s cabinet appointees, President Pro Tem Phil Berger appears to be prepared to provide more specifics about the process.

Gov. Cooper’s team has pointed out that there is no clear procedure for the Senate signing off on cabinet approvals.  This and related issues have already landed in court as Gov. Cooper works to appoint his cabinet.

We’ll keep you posted on details of these proceedings in future Updates, which you can sign up for today at the bottom of the page under “Learn and Act.”