The “Occupy” movement has steadily encompassed major metropolitan areas across the nation as discontent spreads among Americans who have faced hardships in this harsh economic climate. Protesters have gathered here in Raleigh on the Capitol Grounds carrying signs and camping out to protest what they see as too much “corporate influence over our elections and […]
The General Assembly worked tirelessly throughout the 2011 legislative session to push through hundreds of bills aimed at dismantling the old liberal guard. In the area of tort reform, several significant legislative improvements were offered with bi-partisan support. Two of the bills, HB 542, “Tort Reform for Citizens and Business” and HB 709, “Protect and […]
The recent shooting spree against U.S. Democratic Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords of Arizona shocked the political world, a world already riddled with very little compromise and reliable uncertainty. Giffords has been heralded as a positive advocate for her constituents, a fighter who narrowly wins her district in a conservative-leaning state. When Giffords was shot in the head by a shooter described by both Republicans and Democrats as characteristically "unstable," she was participating in what many news reports detailed as Giffords doing what she loved best, which is communicating with the public in a town hall style meeting.
Passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2009, the “Racial Justice Act” inserted language into the law that removed the proverbial blindfold from the eyes of Lady Justice, and was only the second state in the union to do so. North Carolina now allows the use of statistical evidence – such as reviewing trends in 16,000 first-degree murder cases prosecuted in the state over the past 20 years – rather than testimony and fact.
When North Carolinians cast their votes this election season, they will be asked whether to amend the state constitution such that it would prohibit any convicted felon from serving as sheriff. The constitutional amendment serves as the General Assembly’s response to six instances of felons running in this year’s primaries for sheriff. All six candidates lost. The counties in which felons ran for sheriff include Avery, Dare, Davidson, McDowell, Washington and Wilkes. Surely, the notion that a convicted felon should not serve as sheriff is reasonable. Yet voters should inspect the proposal thoroughly before casting their ballot. The amendment would prohibit even those felons whose rights of citizenship are fully restored upon paying their debt to society from holding the office of sheriff. The full text of the amendment is as follows: “No person is eligible to serve as Sheriff if that person has been convicted of a felony against this State, the United States, or another state, whether or not that person has been restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law. Convicted of a felony includes the entry of a plea of guilty; a verdict or finding of guilt by a jury, judge, magistrate, or other adjudicating body, tribunal, or official, either civilian or military; or a plea of no contest, nolo contendere, or the equivalent.” Rarely has the notion that “politics makes for strange bedfellows” rang more true. The referendum represents a truly non-partisan issue as can be evidenced by the fact that BlueNC, a far-left blog, and ConservativeNC, obviously a right-wing blog, contain posts opposing the measure. Arguments in favor of the proposal legitimately claim that felons have exhibited poor judgment and thus do not live up to the high standards required to hold the office of sheriff. As such, a blanket prohibition is necessary to ensure that felons cannot be elected sheriff. Opponents argue that voters ought to decide on a case by cases basis whether a felon is worthy of the office of sheriff. Further, opponents have a point to that felons whose rights have been restored should not continue to be punished after having paid their debt to society. Essentially, the question is whether individuals should continue to be punished for their felonious transgressions even after each has paid his debt to society and had his rights of citizenship restored and, further, at what point in the political process the issue should be resolved. Before casting your ballot, consider the implications of your vote. Issues are rarely as clear as they appear on the surface. Do your due diligence because on Election Day, the decision is yours.
Over 90 percent of convicted murderers on death row have filed to have their death sentences revoked under the misnamed “The Racial Justice Act” (RJA) or Senate Bill 461. The impact of the bill – passed by what some refer to as the “most liberal Legislature” in North Carolina history – is now being felt statewide.
Twenty years ago, state prison populations forced the North Carolina Department of Corrections to effectively "legalize misdemeanors." Many existing prisoners were released to be free long before their sentences had required.
During the long legislative session of 2009 that was defined by increased spending, in¬creased taxes, and a statewide smoking ban, the General Assembly managed to make several other significant changes to the General Statutes. One such revision – largely made unnoticed and with little media attention or fanfare – would drastically alter current laws on the books by putting drunk drivers back on the roads.
Just last week, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed their anxiously awaited budget for FY 2010-11. As many had expected, the content of this year’s budget mirrored the tribulations of North Carolina’s economy, as many critical programs suffered sizeable budget cuts to reconcile the state’s $1 billion budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year.
Legislators who support H.B. 1403, sponsored by Reps. Wil Neumann (R-Gaston), Pearl Burris-Floyd (R-Gaston), Darrell McCormick (R-Yadkin) and Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), which would require the collection of DNA upon arrest for all felonies and certain misdemeanors, have only focused on how it would exonerate the innocent.
The House budget plan would reduce overall Justice and Public Safety (JPS) Budget by about 3 percent compared to the spending plan put in place last year. As with the Senate JPS Budget, the majority of appropriations shifting occurs within the Department of Corrections, the largest department in JPS. The largest reductions come from inmate medical costs and a lower-than-projected inmate population. The most significant difference between the House and Senate JPS budgets is that the House allocates to the Department of Corrections about $12 million less than the Senate to correct for an inmate population now projected to be lower than the estimates used last when the two-year budget plan was put in place. Corrections, however, would see an increase of 803 full-time positions under the House budget. Two other notable discrepancies between the House and Senate budgets are the $3.5 million expansion in the House Budget to restore the Samackland Youth Development Center, which is absent from the Senate Budget, and the $2.35 million in the Senate Budget to expand prisoner education not included in the House Budget. Significant expansions and reductions include: Expansions: $9.77 million to the operating reserves at the Central and Women Prisons' hospitals as requested in the Governor's budget proposal $3.5 million to restore the Samackland Youth Development Center. This is an alternative correctional facility for juvenile offenders. $2.2 million to restore the Sentencing Services program as requested in both the Governor's and Senate's spending plans Reductions: $27.2 million from the Department of Corrections because of lower than expected inmate population $20.5 million from linking inmate medical costs to a fee schedule based on rates authorized by Medicaid. This reduction was included in the Senate's and Governor Perdue's proposals $5.75 million from the Private Assigned Counsel (PAC) program. PAC consists of private legal counsel who have been assigned to provide indigent legal services. This reduction was also included in the Senate Budget. $5 million from the technology services program and administration budgets of the Judicial Department. This too was included in the Senate Budget.
The overall Justice and Public Safety (JPS) budget was reduced by about 3 percent compared to the spending plan put in place as the second year of the two-year budget approved last year.
The General Assembly is currently considering HB1403, "Collecting DNA Sample on Arrest," sponsored by Reps. Wil Neumann (R-Gaston), Pearl Burris-Floyd (R-Gaston), Darrell McCormick (R-Yadkin) and Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg). The bill would establish a database of DNA samples - the unique, identifying genetic make-up of an individual - collected at the time suspected felons are arrested. This legislation must be considered philosophically with careful examination of the struggle between liberty and security...
The Department of Justice and Public Safety (JPS) would see a 3.8% reduction in its budget if the Senate's budget passed as it currently stands. The majority of the expansions and reductions occur within the Department of Corrections, which is the largest department in JPS. Many of the shifts in allocation of funds occurred in the budgets dealing with inmate medical matters...
Justice and Public Safety (JPS) is one of only two major state agencies – K-12 public education being the other – to receive a reduction in Governor Perdue’s 2010-11 budget recommendations.