NC Criminal Law Reforms

For the first time in about 100 years, Republicans are in control of the state legislature in Raleigh. Normally Republicans are considered "harder" with crimes than Democrats, so it's amazing that North Carolina has developed a criminal justice system over the last 100 years, which is not difficult, but not too difficult for accused criminals.

With Republicans under control, some worried that the climate of crime would be even more hostile. But some signs of reform are emerging from the General Assembly.

First, in 1994, North Carolina abolished parole on a structured basis. Structured punishment limits the way in which a judge can downgrade from an alleged sentence, which favors harsh sentences.

As a result, while crime rates in North Carolina have dropped over the past decade, the number of inmates in North Carolina prisons and prisons has increased by 23 percent. Much of the increase is a tougher punishment for non-violent drug offenses: drug possession, drug sale, controlled substance use, or house keeping, etc.

Now, with a huge budget deficit, the Republican-controlled General Assembly is looking to reduce penalties for non-violent crimes and change the prosecution of certain crimes.

This is the right approach. Violent crimes must be punished severely. But nonviolent crimes – when there is no victim and only selling or possessing a drug – add to the cost of North Carolina dollars, while they get little in the way of safety.

Second, the General Assembly is considering establishing post-dismissal oversight. Although not released, I advocate for new penalties, if someone has been properly imprisoned and overseeing and overseeing a supervisory program can significantly reduce costs and increase security.