Greene and Lenoir Counties are working towards keeping children in schools and out of jails. By launching a School-Justice Partnership, they seek to reduce law enforcement involvement in school misconduct. As part of the partnership, schools have signed an agreement outlining strategies for addressing misconduct. Currently, students of color and students with disabilities are overrepresented among suspended and expelled students. The partnership will aim to reduce some of these disparities. Successes in other counties have been encouraging. In New Hanover County, a similar School-Justice Partnership resulted in a 47 percent decrease in referrals to the juvenile justice system in its first year. School-Justice Partnerships are becoming more common throughout North Carolina since the passage of the Raise the Age legislation, which raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction for nonviolent crimes to 18. As schools and communities take a much-needed look at the impact of the justice system on youth, North Carolina stands to benefit from a more rehabilitative, more equitable justice system. Learn more here.
Do you want armed volunteers in your local schools? This is yet another issue of critical importance to engage your local sheriff. In Stanly County, the school board recently passed a measure that would allow the Stanly County Sheriff to place armed volunteers in schools. These volunteers will include former law enforcement and military police officers. Volunteers will be required to receive training on research regarding the social and cognitive development of students. They will also be required meet the selection standards and any additional criteria set by the law enforcement agency in charge of the volunteers. Some have warned against the program being a dangerous expansion of the use of school resource officers, who have exacerbated racial disparities in school discipline. Moreover, state law provides no liability for “good faith” volunteer actions. While other rural North Carolina counties are considering similar measures to allow for armed volunteer guards, larger urban school districts have rejected the idea. Changes in school safety practices are one of the many reasons to remain engaged with the political process to make sure that your local sheriff is aligned with your values. Learn more here.
Twelve individuals with felony convictions are being charged with voter fraud for voting in the general election. Seven individuals have already been charged and five are being tracked down. According to the State Board of Elections, it is a felony “for any person convicted of a crime which excludes the person from the right of suffrage, to vote…without having been restored to the right of citizenship.” Each individual prosecuted could face up to two years in prison, loss of probation or parole, fines and other penalties. Alamance County NAACP President Barrett Brown is critical of the prosecution of these individuals. He notes that they presented no fraudulent information and that their actions were “more clerical than criminal.” He also believes the prosecution could have a chilling effect on voting for all individuals with criminal records. For more information, click here
The NCGA is trying to take away our right to elect judges. If you are like most people the previous sentence is alarming, but you aren’t quiet sure what it means. CJPC is here to help you make sense of this important issue.
What is the law right now related to judicial elections?
- There will be no judicial primaries. This means you will not have an opportunity to narrow down the potentially long list of people who want to be elected as a judge on the November ballot in your jurisdiction.
- Each candidate for judge will also list the party affiliation. This is a recent change in the law. Many fear making our judicial elections partisan can politicize what should be a non political branch of state government.
Is anyone challenging these changes?
- YES! The North Carolina Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit asserting the NCGA violated its free speech and equal protection rights by eliminating judicial primaries. Oral arguments were heard last week and a decision on whether to block the law is pending.
Why should you care about ending judicial primary elections?
- Because the elimination of primaries could result in having lots of names on the ballot. So, a candidate with just 30 percent of the vote could become a judge!
- Another reason to be concerned is because no legislature in the history of this country has ever eliminated primaries in partisan elections.