Joe Neff

Henry McCollum, left, spent 30 years, 11 months and seven days on death row. Leon Brown was imprisoned at the age of 15 and spend the first decade in solitary confinement. In 2014 the men were released after DNA evidence implicated another man.
Courtesy of Patrick Megaro

In 1983, an 11-year-old girl was raped and killed in Red Springs, North Carolina. Half brothers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, teenagers at the time, initially confessed to the crime, but later recanted saying they were coerced. They spent 31 years in prison until DNA from the crime scene proved them innocent.

gavel at courtroom
William Johnson / US Airforce Photo

A new law that took effect last week makes it more difficult for judges to waive fines and fees for people who cannot afford to pay them. Now a judge must issue a 15-day notice to all agencies involved before granting  a waiver. Critics argue this will cause a logistical backlog for the courts and ultimately result in more low-income people going to jail. Proponents say the courts rely on these fees, and the new law will help generate revenue. This law was not directly sponsored by any member of the General Assembly, so it is difficult to distinguish its political supporters.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

 

Every year thousands of low-income students in North Carolina who achieve “superior” scores on end-of-grade tests are excluded from advanced programs, according to a recent report. The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer reported that high-achieving, low-income students are left out of advanced classes at a higher rate than their wealthier classmates with the same test scores.

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

A recently released memo from a deputy commissioner of corrections says that Governor Pat McCrory spoke twice with Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry about expiring prison contracts.

Pat McCrory
James Willamor / Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Pat McCrory reportedly used his personal influence to help his friend and major political donor, Graeme Keith Sr., renew a $3 million contract with the state.

    

On March 12, 2014, Michael Anthony Kerr, an inmate at the Alexander Correctional Institution, died from dehydration en route to a hospital in Raleigh.

The treatment of Mr. Kerr in days leading up to his death have led to many questions as well as investigations by the US Attorney’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation.

  The federal investigation into WakeMed over Medicare fraud looked like it was going to end in a settlement. But a federal judge twice rejected the agreement between the hospital and prosecutors, leaving the case unresolved. News & Observer reporter Joe Neff joins host Frank Stasio in the studio to discuss the case.

In a new News & Observer series, reporter Joe Neff uncovered tough, unethical tactics that hospitals use to make money. Neff writes that hospital CEOs get big paydays while poor patients are subject to ruthless harassment from bill collectors. Host Frank Stasio talks to Neff about how North Carolina hospitals are making big profits and driving up the costs of health care for everybody.