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NC panel makes recommendations for state criminal justice system
End choke holds, report excessive force suggested
Published Monday, July 27, 2020 10:20 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls is co-chair of the state Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice.

A panel tasked with making North Carolina’s criminal justice system more equitable has its first recommendations.

The North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice convened by Gov. Roy Cooper is recommending law enforcement agencies implement duty to intervene and report excessive use of force rules as well as bar choke holds. It also wants the state Supreme Court to mandate an assessment of the ability to pay before levying fines and fees.

“This task force is all about taking action to make our criminal justice system treat people more fairly,” said Attorney General Josh Stein, who co-chairs the task force along with Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls. “These three measures – requiring law enforcement officers to take action when they see something inappropriate or dangerous, forbidding the use of neck holds in North Carolina, and the courts’ ability to make sure people can pay fines and fees before levying them – will all meaningfully address the system’s unfair treatment of Black people. I am encouraged that the task force was willing to move forward quickly in adopting these ideas and I look forward to continuing our important work.”

Cooper signed an executive last month authorizing the task force to make recommendations to hold law enforcement and state courts accountable for eliminating racially-motivated policy and inequities.
The panel convened with stakeholders including community policing advocates, state and local law enforcement, justice reform advocates, judges, and people from marginalized communities. The panel is charged with submitting legislative and municipal recommendations by Dec. 1. 

The executive order also creates a Center for the Prevention of Law Enforcement Use of Deadly Force within the State Bureau of Investigation to track statistics and improve police training.

“[The] recommendations are basic reforms that have been well thought-out by numerous stakeholders, have broad consensus and can be implemented without delay,” Earls said. “While they are only a start, they represent an important first step in the work of the task force.”

Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately impacted in every phase of the criminal justice system, including racial profiling, longer sentences and inordinate bail amounts, which lower-income people can’t afford. According to national data, African Americans are:

• 2.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement if they are male compared to their white counterparts. Black women are 1.4 times more likely to be killed by police than white women.

• 5.9 times as likely to be incarcerated than whites;

• Twice as likely as white drivers to be pulled over for a traffic stop;

• More likely to be jailed before trial than white defendants;

• Less likely to have their murders solved than whites; and

• Sentenced to prison for 20% longer than white men convicted of the same crime while black women are imprisoned at twice the rate as white women.

The task force’s next action will be to hear comments from the public on Tuesday, July 28, at 10:00 a.m. You can sign up here to speak for up to two minutes. Once you sign up, you’ll receive a Zoom link to log on to the session. The public comment session can also be streamed live on the North Carolina Department of Justice’s YouTube channel. Additional public comment sessions will be announced in the future and North Carolinians can also make their voices heard by submitting written comments via this form.



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