• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Prisoners Rights

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.

...

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Public Safety yesterday announced plans to end the practice of placing youthful offenders in solitary confinement by September 2016. North Carolina is one of two states in the country that still charges 16 and 17 year olds as adults and places them in adult correctional facilities.

As of June 7, there were 67 children under the age of 18 in North Carolina prisons, 16 of which were segregated from the general population in some form of solitary confinement. Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced that it would end the solitary confinement of juveniles in federal prisons.

In 2015, a coalition of human rights organizations sent a letter asking the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the use of solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons.

...

CARY – Criminal justice experts from North Carolina and around the nation will gather in Cary on October 1 for a daylong symposium dedicated to exploring and identifying strategies to reduce or eliminate mass incarceration and its devastating impact on American communities.

While composing only 5 percent of the global population, the United States currently houses 25 percent of the world’s prison population. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 6.89 million people in the United States are in jails, prisons, and under other forms of adult correctional control, and this population is characterized by extreme racial disparities. Symposium participants will identify the role that legal organizations and members of the public can play in supporting criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing or eliminating mass incarceration and its harmful consequences.

What: Understanding and Dismantling Mass Incarceration: What Solutions Exist for North Carolina? Speakers at this Symposium will discuss the history of mass incarceration, factors exacerbating the phenomenon, the economics of the mass incarceration, and strategies for achieving real criminal justice reform in North Carolina.

...

RALEIGH – A coalition of human rights groups today sent a letter asking the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the use of solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons. The letter comes weeks after President Obama ordered the Justice Department to review the use of solitary confinement across the country and criticized the practice in a major speech on criminal justice reform.  

The 15-page letter – signed by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, the ACLU of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina School of Law Human Rights Policy Seminar, the UNC Center for Civil Rights, and North Carolina Stop Torture Now – chronicles the recent deaths of several inmates held in solitary confinement in North Carolina, as well as the mistreatment and horrific conditions suffered by countless more. One of those prisoners, Michael Anthony Kerr, a 53-year-old former Army sergeant diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, died of dehydration in March 2014 after spending 35 days in solitary confinement. In the letter, the groups document North Carolina’s failure to provide adequate resources for prison mental health services and explain how inmates with mental illness are disciplined for manifestations of their illness and often released directly to the community after months or years in isolation.  

“Understaffed, underfunded, and plagued by arbitrary standards, insufficient oversight, and inadequate resources for inmates with mental illness, North Carolina’s solitary confinement regime must change,” the letter reads. “However, governmental efforts and calls from the media and the public have resulted in little meaningful reform.  Every day that the status quo endures without intervention, North Carolina’s system for housing inmates in solitary confinement claims more victims to needless suffering and death.”

...