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RALEIGH – A bill that would allow law enforcement agencies to shield officer worn body camera footage from public view unless ordered to release the footage by a court was approved by the North Carolina House tonight.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina, which has advised many local law enforcement agencies on their body camera policies, opposes HB 972. 

“Body cameras are supposed to represent a step forward for transparency, but this bill would be a step backward by empowering police to keep video footage secret—even from individuals who are filmed,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina. “At a minimum, people who are filmed by police body cameras should be able to obtain that footage.  Instead, HB 972 would force people to go to court to obtain footage, a process most simply can’t afford. This bill would also deny local governments the ability to determine if footage does in fact need to be released in order to maintain public confidence, something they have the ability to do under current law.”

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RALEIGH – Today the North Carolina Senate voted to approve HB 100, a bill that creates new rules for the enforcement of state immigration laws. Senator Mike Woodard objected to the bill on its third reading, meaning that the Senate must vote one more time before the bill is sent to the House.   

Specifically, the bill would

·         Take away the ability of law enforcement officers to use local or organizations IDs, such as those used in Greensboro, as a tool for for identifying crime victims, witnesses, and suspects

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WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law that imposed medically unnecessary regulations on doctors and facilities that provide abortions. The court’s ruling will have a nationwide impact.

“The nation’s highest court has affirmed that a woman has a constitutional right to have an abortion, no matter where she lives, and not just in theory, but in reality,” said Sarah Preston, Policy Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “This ruling sends a powerful message to Governor McCrory and North Carolina lawmakers that they cannot enact needless barriers that interfere with a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion. We will continue to work to ensure that every woman in North Carolina – regardless of where they live or their economic status – has the right to make decisions about when and whether to parent and to access abortion with the compassion, respect, and dignity that they deserve.”

Justice Denied

Posted on in Uncategorized

"If we are to right the ship, the Judicial Branch will need sufficient investment from this General Assembly to ensure that we adequately fund the basic operations of the court system. . . . If we cannot pay for these basic services, we cannot conduct timely trials. We all know that justice delayed is justice denied."

These comments were delivered by North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin on March 4, 2015 during the first State of the Judiciary address to the North Carolina General Assembly in 14 years.  The Chief Justice was referring to years of cuts to the Administrative Office of the Courts and he sought increased funding to make sure the judiciary could function at full capacity and resolve cases quickly and appropriately. 

While the Chief Justice accurately laid out the critical needs of North Carolina’s court system in 2015, he could not even begin to address the dire needs within the rest of the justice system during his speech.  As recently as last month, Commissioner David Guice, head of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice within the Department of Public Safety, spoke publicly regarding the mental health crisis in our prisons.  Commissioner Guice told the News and Observer, “Emergency rooms, jails, and prisons have become the de facto mental health hospitals,”and said he was calling on lawmakers to provide more funding for treatment for mental illness within prisons.  Commissioner Guice understands that in most cases, those behind bars are eventually released and everyone would be safer if their mental health concerns could be addressed in prison.

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