Kelan Lyons

Kelan Lyons

Investigative Reporter Kelan Lyons writes about criminal and civil justice, including high-profile litigation, prison and jail conditions, housing, and the challenges people face when they leave prison.

a sign on a window reads "Board of Elections Operations Center"

Judges block law that strips governor’s power to make Elections Board appointments

By: - November 30, 2023

A three-judge panel on Thursday unanimously blocked Republicans’ efforts to strip Gov. Roy Cooper’s power to make appointments to the State Board of Elections. The preliminary injunction temporarily blocks one of Republicans’ attempts to overhaul elections ahead of the 2024 election, in which voters will choose a new governor and help determine which party wins […]

Satana Deberry

Deberry: NC needs an attorney general who ‘believes in democracy’

By: - November 21, 2023

In a virtual forum Tuesday, Satana Deberry said North Carolinians need an attorney general who “believes in democracy” and is willing to fight for it in court — values that are especially pertinent as the state faces lawsuits over Senate redistricting and a voter ID law passed by the legislature earlier this year. “The law […]

Appeals court ‘life begins at conception’ ruling withdrawn

By: - November 10, 2023

A controversial opinion published by the North Carolina Court of Appeals last month has been withdrawn, effectively making it as if it were never written. The decision dealt with the termination of a mother’s parental rights because she had committed a crime while she was pregnant. Judge Hunter Murphy, a Republican running in a primary […]

Zebulon Vance Monument -- a gray obelisk photographed in front of an office building

State Supreme Court hears arguments in Confederate monument case

By: - November 2, 2023

Imprisoned by federal troops shortly after the end of Civil War, North Carolina Gov. Zebulon Vance wrote his friend from jail in a state of despair. “There are indications that the radicals intend to force perfect Negro equality upon us. Should this be done, and there is nothing I can do to prevent it, it […]

‘He had always been a monster to me.’ Restorative justice in North Carolina prisons

By: - October 28, 2023

Holly Gilmore was petrified. She hadn’t seem Jimmy Jones in three decades, since she was a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill. Now, she was less than a foot away from him, seated at a table in Orange Correctional Center. “The last time I saw him, he was attacking me on the floor of my apartment,” Gilmore […]

A stock photo of a judge's gavel on a desk, a law book and the scales of justice.

‘Life begins at conception’ court ruling could profoundly affect NC families, legal experts say

By: - October 27, 2023

Imagine putting a mother in jail because authorities determined that, over the course of her pregnancy, she should have exercised more, drank less coffee and taken more prenatal vitamins. “Is the mother’s conduct going to be monitored like that because this is a living being now, at the moment of conception?” said Suzanne Reynolds, dean […]

a view from outside Central Prison in Raleigh

Prison system will continue using mail-scanning practice

By: - October 19, 2023

A spokesperson with the Department of Adult Correction told NC Newsline Thursday that the prison system has reached an agreement with TextBehind so that the private company will continue to scan and digitize mail sent to people in North Carolina prisons. After an impasse in negotiations, TextBehind was scheduled to stop screening mail sent to […]

A view of the outside of the NC Court of Appeals building

NC Appeals Court: Mom who committed crime while pregnant can lose parental rights

By: - October 18, 2023

The state Court of Appeals issued a ruling Tuesday that affirmed the termination of a mother’s parental rights — even though the child hadn’t yet been born at the time of the mother’s crimes — because “life begins at conception.” The mother had pleaded guilty to felony child abuse of another child, which prompted a […]

a computer screen shows the TextBehind website

NC prison system getting rid of controversial mail-scanning practice

By: - October 16, 2023

As of this Friday, a private company will no longer scan and digitize the mail sent to people in North Carolina prisons. A spokesperson with the Department of Adult Correction told Newsline that the agency’s no-cost agreement with TextBehind ended July 1, and it has been unable to reach an agreement on another no-cost arrangement. […]

a help wanted sign outside of Raleigh's Central Prison

Solitary confinement, staffing vacancies, job training focus of prison reform conference

By: - October 12, 2023

When four employees at Pasquotank Correctional Center were killed in 2017, almost a third of corrections officers’ positions were vacant. Now, the vacancy rate of North Carolina’s corrections officers is 40%, leaving the state’s prisons vulnerable once again to the kind of tragic violence from six years ago, a speaker said at a conference in […]

Matthew Sasser types at a computer

A judge’s order curbs right of press and public to record county commission meetings

By: - October 11, 2023

Willam Toler, managing editor of The Richmond Observer, craned his arm to stretch his phone’s vantage point, framing up a picture of a woman describing her concerns about animal ordinances to the Richmond County Board of Commissioners. After he took the photo, Toler returned his phone to the ledge beside the lectern, recording the rest […]

a map of North Carolina that highlights counties which are legal deserts

Eight new public defender districts funded in the budget — but legal deserts remain

By: - September 28, 2023

In May, the head of the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services told members of the Governor’s Crime Commission that almost half of the state’s 100 counties are “legal deserts,” meaning there was less than one lawyer for every 1,000 residents. But the state budget could help with that, Mary Pollard told officials. At […]