8:50 am
Fri December 12, 2014

More Than 4,000 Mentally Ill People Are Inmates In North Carolina’s Prisons

Central Prison in Raleigh
Credit North Carolina Department of Public Safety

About 12 percent of the inmates in North Carolina's prisons are mentally ill, state prisons administrators told lawmakers at a hearing this week.

Administrators, including David Guice, the commissioner for the state Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, said the they're starting a re-structuring of how they handle the roughly 4,600 mentally ill inmates. They're beginning to concentrate transfer some inmates and concentrate some services in some locations - instead of having them spread among the roughly 37,000 inmate population throughout the system's 56 facilities.

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The State of Things
12:04 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Is Solitary Confinement Torture? New Report From UNC School Of Law


Long-term solitary confinement is a cruel, inhumane and degrading form of punishment, according to a new report from The University of North Carolina School of Law.

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The State of Things
11:05 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Teens Help Turn Abandoned North Carolina Prisons Into Farms youth participant Clifton Murray, program founder Noran Sanford, and youth participant Robert Hunt harvest food for needy families in their region.
Noran Sanford

Cody Oxendine grew up in a small town in North Carolina dominated by gangs. He joined a gang at a young age and his activities landed him in juvenile court for two counts of simple assault. Three years ago, he was on probation and doing everything in his power to avoid prison. Now, 18-year-old Cody is thrilled to spend a lot of his time at one particular prison.

Oxendine is part of a group of youth leading an effort to flip an abandoned prison in Wagram, North Carolina into a sustainable farm.

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Politics & Government
8:43 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Study: 1 In 10 NC Inmates Are Held In Solitary Every Day

North Carolina Central Prison in Raleigh
Credit 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.

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The State of Things
12:21 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Questions Around The Death Of A North Carolina Prisoner

Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, NC.


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.

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1:39 am
Wed November 5, 2014

New Right: Judge Or Jury


State voters passed a constitutional amendment that would give people accused of a felony a choice to have a judge hear their trial rather than a jury of their peers. The amendment was approved with about 54% of the vote. 

Up until last night's vote, North Carolina stood alone in refusing to allow that choice.  The option will only be available to persons not facing the death penalty. 

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The State of Things
11:52 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Doing Time On The Outside

When a family member is sentenced to time in prison, they who family can feel like they are "doing time."

Anyone familiar with the American criminal justice system has likely heard the expression, “When a person gets sentenced to prison, the whole family serves the time.” 

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The State of Things
11:29 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Reinvesting In NC Prisons

Credit Kate Ter Harr / Flickr/Creative Commons


In 2011, state lawmakers noticed a discrepancy in North Carolina’s correctional facilities: crime was going down, but the prison population was booming. The culprit? The state’s probation laws.

More than half of prison admissions were because of probation violations. And many of those were minor offenses. In a rare bipartisan move, the General Assembly rewrote the rules. 

Since then, fewer people are in prison, fewer people are going back to prison, and costs are down.

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4:14 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Should Accused Felons Get To Choose A Judge Or Jury Trial? You Decide

Credit DOliphant via Flickr

This November voters in North Carolina will decide whether people accused of felonies should have the opportunity to decide whether they want a judge or jury to decide their case. Jeff Welty, an associate professor in the School of Government at the University of North Carolina, has been studying the potential implications this constitutional amendment may have on the state.  He talked with Phoebe Judge.

Conversation highlights:

Why has it taken North Carolina so long to address the issue?

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2:15 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Man Sentenced To Eight Life Sentences Released After 20 Years

Credit Kate Ter Harr / Flickr/Creative Commons

A North Carolina judge has ordered a man to be released from prison after serving 20 years of eight life sentences.  An attorney says 57-year-old Michael Alan Parker was released from Craggy Correctional Center near Asheville today. 

Parker was convicted in 1994 of 12 counts of sex crimes against his children, performed in a ritualistic manner. 

His defense attorney Sean Devereux asked for a new trial after doctors reviewed medical evidence.  Henderson County District Attorney Greg Newman says advancements in forensic investigations swayed the judge's decision.

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