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North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice Shares 2021 Progress

For Immediate Release:
Friday, December 17, 2021

Contact:
Nazneen Ahmed (919) 716-0060

(RALEIGH) The North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, co-chaired by Attorney General Josh Stein and Associate Justice Anita Earls, today delivered an update to Gov. Roy Cooper on the Task Force’s work to implement its 2020 recommendations to improve criminal justice in our state. The 2021 report is available HERE, and an overview on the status of the recommendations is available HERE.

“We know that too often, our criminal justice system has not treated all people equally,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “That needs to change and I appreciate the work of the Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, which has already led to meaningful reforms put into law. We must continue to work to ensure that every North Carolinian is treated fairly and equally under our laws.”

“The state made real progress this year in our efforts to create a fairer North Carolina, but we have more work to do to build a criminal justice system that delivers equal justice for all and that keeps us all safe,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I am proud of what the Task Force and its partners have accomplished in 2021, and we are committed to keeping at this important work.”

“This report documents the valuable progress we’ve made and the enormous work still to be done,” said Associate Justice Anita Earls. “I’m especially grateful to the many members of the public who attend our virtual meetings, provide insightful observations, and continue to urge bold, transformative solutions. It is clear that we need better data across the system to enable stakeholders to identify and respond to racial disparities. Additionally, there is no single quick fix to any of these issues. Instead, there must be concentrated attention to the need for racial equity for many years to come.”

Gov. Cooper established the Task Force in June 2020 to examine North Carolina’s criminal justice systems and recommend solutions to stop discriminatory and biased practices, achieve racially fair outcomes, increase accountability in law enforcement, and enhance public safety.

In 2021, the Task Force made several of its recommendations a reality, including:

  • Supporting the passage for the Dignity for Women Who are Incarcerated Act, which makes North Carolina part of the majority of states that restrict the shackling of pregnant women to protect their medical health and afford them dignity while incarcerated.
  • Supporting the passage of legislation that raises the age of juvenile jurisdiction from six to 10 in most cases and gives prosecutors flexibility to charge 16- and 17-year-olds in juvenile courts instead of adult courts.
  • Improving law enforcement recruitment, training, and accountability practices through SB 300, including establishing a duty for officers to intervene and report when they witness another officer use excessive force and requiring law enforcement agencies to have early warning systems to correct officer actions when needed.
  • Conducting learning sessions and sharing funding opportunities to help local governments implement American Rescue Plan funds.
  • Advocating for changes to funding priorities for the Governor’s Crime Commission, which will fund pilot programs on mental health diversion, co-responder models, crisis intervention training, and violence intervention programs in the FY 2022.

The Task Force will continue its work with policymakers and partners to continue to implement recommendations in 2022 that further reimagine public safety, improve policing practices, enhance accountability, strengthen recruitment, training, and the law enforcement profession, eliminate racial disparities in the courts, and promote racial equity post-conviction.

The Task Force is comprised of a diverse group of North Carolinians, including advocates for criminal justice reform, law enforcement officers, victims’ and disability rights, police chiefs, people with first-hand experience in the justice system, sheriffs, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, and elected officials. A full list of members is available HERE.

More information on the Task Force’s work is available at https://ncdoj.gov/trec/.

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