Criminal Justice

slim, white-haired Abby Abinanti stands looking serious on a misty hill
Courtesy of Anne Makepeace

In Native American communities, poverty, drugs and the school-to-prison pipeline mean few second chances for those who commit crimes.

Two tribal judges in California are taking a different approach: Abby Abinanti and Claudette White are using restorative justice techniques to rehabilitate offenders and keep families together.
 

Luis Padilla poses for a picture with his daughter, Isabella near their home in New York. Padilla was arrested at 16 and sent to Rikers Island. New York and North Carolina are the only two states to prosecute all 16 and 17 year olds as adults.
Seth Wenig / Associated Press

Second of two stories. Click here for the first.

North Carolina is one of just two states that automatically charges 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system. But in several counties, the court system is working with local law enforcement to give would-be young offenders a second chance.

A bill to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18 has support in the state house.
Associated Press

First of two stories. Click here for the second.

When you turn 16 in North Carolina, you still can't vote, or drive on your own at night. You can't buy cigarettes or alcohol, or get a tattoo. But you can be charged, tried and convicted as an adult in the criminal justice system.

Todd Turner

When Sherrill Roland was in his last year of graduate school at UNC-Greensboro, he was charged for crimes he did not commit in the District of Columbia. 

Image of Attica uprising
ASSOCIATED PRESS/ New York State Special Commission on Attica

Forty-five years ago, New York state police raided Attica Prison, a maximum-security institution in a small town in upstate New York. The standoff and takeover led to the deaths of 39 men in what has become known as the "Attica Prison Uprising." Scholar and historian Heather Ann Thompson considers the uprising to be both one of the most important civil rights events of the 20th century and a pivotal moment in criminal justice history.

Ryan Gibson of Raleigh is among the hundreds of people who filled a parking lot outside of the gay night club Legends in downtown Raleigh to support the victims of the Orlando shooting.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Just one day after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, many questions remain.

Thus far, investigators have confirmed that on Sunday morning, alleged shooter Omar Mateen attacked a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. According to reports, Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call during the attack but no direct link has been confirmed between him and the terrorist group.

Image of prison cells
Chris Miller / Flickr Creative Commons

More than 3,000 individuals are currently incarcerated on death row. And the headlines are filled with the details of the crimes they committed and their journeys in the criminal justice system.

But what do we know about their lives, both before their sentencing and after their incarcerations? 

On November 12th, WUNC’s The State of Things and Leadership Triangle join forces to present an issues forum on the school-to-prison pipeline, one in a series of forums organized to educate the public on important issues facing our region. 

In the wake of events in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, Md., U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) leads the Congressional Black Caucus at a tumultuous time for race relations in the country.

The congressman told Frank Stasio of WUNC’s The State of Things that he sees racial and socioeconomic tensions across the U.S. “There are Fergusons and Baltimores all across this country. It’s not unique to these communities. It could even be here in North Carolina,” Rep. Butterfield said.

A hand made sign in Turkey
Will McInerney

On February 10, Razan Abu-Salha, her sister Yusor Abu-Salha and Yusor's husband Deah Barakat were shot and killed in their home in Chapel Hill. Deah and Yusor were both preparing to be dentists and felt called to help Syrian refugees in need of dental care.

Chapel Hill Poet Will McInerney and Mike Mallah are traveling in the Middle East this month documenting the work of the Syrian American Medical Society.  He sent us this postcard.  It's part of a project called Stories with a Heartbeat.

A photo from Grenada, Miss., where Nan Elizabeth Woodruff studies the legacies of terror and violence against people of color.
Matthew Nichols / Flickr Creative Commons

  This year marks the 50th anniversary of many monumental moments of the civil rights movement.

And a group of scholars and activists gather today at the National Humanities Center to push for increased dialogue about how the historical violence against people of color continues to resonate today.

Carolina Academic Press

  

The U.S. justice system is meant to protect Americans from wrongdoing and hold accountable those who would harm others.

But advocates for reform point to incidents like the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner as just a few examples of a broken system.

Peacemaking criminologist Michael DeValve says love can rebuild it, arguing that where equality fails, empathy and compassion can succeed.

Composite graphic image of Criminal
Artwork by Julienne Alexander

The North Carolina podcast Criminal is on a mission to tell the stories of “people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.” 

Photo: Mark Martin
Courtesy of Mark Martin

North Carolina's state Supreme Court Chief Justice was sworn in yesterday. 

Chief Justice Mark Martin was officially sworn in for an eight-year term in a ceremony at the North Carolina Supreme Court.

But he isn't new to the court- Martin was first elected in 1998. He was appointed to serve as Chief Justice this summer, after the former Chief Justice Sarah Parker resigned. She had reached the mandatory retirement age of 72.

Tonya Rush is an analyst at the crime lab. The NC General Assembly recently added funding for 30 more analysts to help with the backlog.
Eric Mennel / WUNC

We've been looking at the problems in the State Crime Lab this week, particularly the backlog in evidence testing. A group of judges, lawyers, and scientists came together in recent months to suggest solutions for clearing up the backlog, but inside the lab, some efforts are already under way.

Central Prison
Dept. of Public Safety

Staff from North Carolina prisons frequently use solitary confinement to discipline inmates, even though it’s costly and ineffective at decreasing violence, according to a new study from the UNC School of Law.

About nine percent of state inmates were being held in long-term solitary confinement on multiple dates between 2012 and 2014. That's higher than the rate of six percent in Texas and the federal prison system and the rate of eight percent in New York before a court ordered the state review its practices, the study found.