A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

Fayetteville's city leaders are considering a property tax hike to fight crime. 

Officials say the proposed budget would raise taxes an average of $60 per year on a $150,000 house. 

Mayor Nat Robertson said the money would be used to put more officers on the street. 

“Our chief of police has asked us for 67 new employees,” Robertson said. “That includes 50-some-odd credentialed employees and support staff for them.”

Robertson stressed the spending plan is just a proposal, so far. 

Photo: Death row inmates are housed at Central Prison in Raleigh. No executions have been carried out in North Carolina since 2006.
North Carolina Department of Public Safety

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Supreme Court will consider whether or not to allow parole for criminals charged with life sentences as juveniles before 2012.

The case is a response to the 2012 Miller v. Alabama decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It held that mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles were unconstitutional. The hearing in North Carolina is to determine whether or not to apply that decision retroactively.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez

In the last year, the Durham Police Department has faced public criticism surrounding search policies and three police-related deaths.  The NAACP of North Carolina questioned the police actions in the case of Jesus Huerta, a 17 year-old who died in police custody.

Advocacy organizations like the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Fostering Alternative Drug Enforcement (FADE) have raised accusations of racial profiling.

The department maintains that racial discrepancies in crime statistics do not indicate discrimination. They issued a report in response to the criticism.

In response to public outcry, the Human Relations Commission will make recommendations to the City Council for procedural reforms in police governance in May. 

Execution chamber

Stephen Lich Tyler drove to Texas last week to witness the execution of his father’s killer, Ramiro Hernandez Llanas. Before he left, he spoke on The State of Things about his struggles with the decision to attend and his expectations of the execution. He returned to the studio today to talk with host Frank Stasio about the experience and how it shaped his perspective on the death penalty.

Lethal injection room
Wikipedia Creative Commons

On Wednesday night, the State of Texas executed Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas, a man convicted of the 1997 killing of professor Glen Lich.

Hernandez-Llanas was an immigrant hired to work on the Lich property when he lured Lich outside the home and beat him to death. He then returned to the house and attacked Lich's wife.

Lich was not Hernandez-Llanas's first murder victim. Hernandez-Llanas had escaped from Mexican prison where he was serving a 25-year sentence for murder.

Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

Crime, violence, dropout rates and out-of-school suspensions declined across North Carolina public schools last school year, according to a report released by state education officials.

The report shows 10,630 reported acts of school crime and violence last school year, a 4.8 percent decrease from the 11,161 acts in 2011-12. The most common reported acts involve illegal possession of drugs or alcohol, weapons or assault.

Brain scan
creative commons

In the future, neuroscientific evidence may be as prevalent as DNA evidence in the criminal justice system. Today on The State of Things, experts discussed the future of neuroscience and the law. Here are some highlights. 

MRI brain scan
creative commons

In the not so distant future, brain scans may be as prevalent as DNA evidence in the criminal justice system. This neuroscientific evidence has the potential to correct biases and predict criminal recidivism. But critics argue it could be misleading and difficult to refute. Exploring the brain as a means of assessing intent also raises privacy concerns. 

Wake County District Attorney Colon WIlloughby / Wake County District Attorney's Office


In his 27 years as Wake County’s District Attorney, Colon Willoughby has prosecuted everything from high-profile murder cases to corruption in state government. For Willoughby, integrity and impartiality are vital components of the role. 

Photo: The old Jackson County Courthouse in Sylva, N.C.
Jimmy Emmerson via Flickr

North Carolina will move one step closer today to allowing people accused of a crime to waive the right to a trial by a jury of peers and instead choose to be tried by a judge.

A proposed constitutional amendment, which is scheduled for a public hearing March 17 in Raleigh, would allow any criminal defendant except for someone facing the possibility of death the right to waive a jury trial.

SalFalko / Flickr Creative Commons

More than 40 new laws passed by state legislators earlier this year went into effect yesterday.

The laws that went on the books are primarily criminal. They include greater punishments for those who abuse or endanger children.

One of them would more than double the maximum prison terms for the most serious child abuse charge. It was inspired by the case of a three-year-old from Concord, who was severely beaten by her stepfather.

SalFalko / Flickr Creative Commons


More than 40 new laws go into effect on December 1st in North Carolina.

They include harsher penalties for those who abuse or endanger children, and a lessening of punishments for certain misdemeanors. Host Frank Stasio gets an overview from Associated Press politics reporter Gary Robertson.

A teenager died in a Durham police car in the department’s headquarters parking lot early Tuesday after the officer driving him heard "a loud noise" in the car, authorities said. 

Central Prison
Dept. of Public Safety

State prison inmates will soon find it tougher to make home visits as their sentences wind down.  Governor Pat McCrory ordered a review of the program the Department of Public Safety has used for over four decades to reacclimate inmates to life outside prison walls.  He approved four recommendations he and DPS leaders believe may cut back on parolees returning to prison. 

City of Fayetteville Police Department

The FBI says Fayetteville has the fifth highest rate of property crime in America, according to analysis of crimes rates for large cities in 2012. The figures come in the same week the Fayetteville City Council voted to pass up a tax increase that would have raised money for 15 new police officers.

Elderly woman, Senior Citizen, Walking, Park,
Matthew Sanders via Flickr, Creative Commons

The Alamance County D.A. has started an effort to protect senior citizens from being crime victims.  Pat Nadolsli kicked off the 'Elder Abuse Initiative' Friday.  He says Alamance County data showed more than 300 cases of elder abuse and exploitation from 2011 to 2012.  Nadolski says the plan is to stop these crimes in the many forms they can take.

An electrical power substation in Orange County.
Laura Candler

Duke Energy Progress has completed upgrades to substations in Durham and Greensboro designed to cut down on copper thefts. 

The company has changed the wire it uses, added security cameras and installed more lighting to keep thieves away.  Authorities have reported frequent copper thefts from the Parkwood Tie Station in Durham and the Main Substation in Greensboro.  The metal goes for nearly $3.00 a pound in resale.

  On Christmas Eve of 1963, a young woman named Lucille Rinaldi was murdered in her apartment in downtown Chapel Hill.  Later the same day, her husband Frank Rinaldi was arrested and charged with murder.

Over the next two years, the trial consumed the attention of the town.  Nora Gaskin was 12 years old when Lucille Rinaldi was killed. The case left an indelible impression on her. She is the author of "Until Proven: A Mystery in Two Parts" (Lystra/ 2013). She joins host Frank Stasio to discuss the novel she has written based on the murder.

In 1976, Joseph Sledge was accused of murdering a mother and daughter in Bladen County, NC. Because of the many limits of scientific evidence at the time, hairs found at the scene of the crime were identified as "Negroid." And because Joseph Sledge was a Black man, the hairs were linked to him. Over 34 years later, the use of DNA testing has been used to prove that those hairs were not Sledges'. 

Mental health is a focus of national dialogue in the wake of mass shootings around the country. What makes people kill, seemingly without remorse?

A laboratory in Burlington will begin testing forensic evidence and building a regional database of DNA evidence in an effort to help local law enforcement agencies solve crimes. The privately owned DNA: SI Labs says it can test samples and provide results much more quickly than the State Bureau of Investigation.

State lawmakers' work in the last session means several new laws will take effect starting today. Legislators say anyone who engages in an act of terrorism will be subject to state as well as federal penalties. Threatening to use explosives, dirty bombs and using violence to intimidate people and governments will be treated as a felony.

There are many ways technology aids in the prevention of crime, but Elon University Law Professor Michael Rich has pondered how far should those methods go. What if software, computers and other digital equipment could actually prevent behavior leading up to a criminal act? Rich joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the social and moral implications of using technology at the risk of impeding on free will.

Crime doesn't pay, or so we've heard. In addition to jail or prison time, fines and community service, there are a host of collateral consequences that many people don't even know about. Access to higher education, housing and even jobs can be affected when you have a criminal record. Two lawyers have set up a database to help people understand the true penalties of different crimes.

Overall crime across the state is down by nearly one percent, according to the latest statistics from the North Carolina Department of Justice. That makes the 2011 crime rate the state's lowest since 1977. It also marks the third consecutive year of decline. It's not all good news, though. Murder is up by almost six percent. Overall crime in some Triangle-area counties, including Chatham and Franklin, appears to be on the rise.