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 for Asheville's Aston Park

Asheville prosecutors want journalists’ lawyer to stop talking to the press

By: - May 9, 2023

The Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office has asked a judge to reprimand an attorney representing two journalists convicted last month of trespassing while reporting late Christmas night 2021 on police activity in Asheville’s Aston Park. The attorney’s offense, according to Assistant District Attorney Robert A. McRight: talking to the press. A rule set by the […]

Compromise jail mugshot bill passes House and survives crossover deadline

By: - May 8, 2023

Last week, in between the vote to advance bills banning most abortions after 12 weeks and prohibiting gender-affirming surgeries for transgender children, House legislators passed a bill that attempts to remove people’s jail mugshots from the public sphere, provided they are not convicted of the crimes for which they were arrested. Rep. Joe John (D-Wake), […]

Bail bill passed last week shows fissures among House Democrats

By: - May 8, 2023

Members of the House passed a bill last week that would strip magistrates of the responsibility to set bail for certain felonies and instead allow judges to determine whether people charged with some violent crimes should be granted pretrial release. Under current law, police take people they’ve arrested to a magistrate, who determines bail or […]

House Republicans pass children gender-affirming surgery ban over Democrats’ objections

By: - May 4, 2023

Members of the House passed a bill Wednesday evening that would prohibit gender-affirming surgery for minors in North Carolina. On a fast track to passage, House Bill 808 cleared the House Committee on Health on Tuesday. On Wednesday afternoon legislators in the House Rules Committee advanced the bill to the House, where it passed by […]

Rev. William J. Barber II and Dennis Gaddy

Criminal justice reformers lobby for ‘second chances’ for formerly incarcerated people

By: - May 3, 2023

Ten years ago, Dennis Gaddy stood beside the Rev. William J. Barber II at the state Legislative Building to protest a conservative General Assembly’s agenda that they believed threatened voting rights and funding for education and social services. On Tuesday, the men once again stood beside one another outside the Legislative Building and urged the […]

Legislators advance bill reforming NC Innocence Inquiry Commission laws

By: - May 2, 2023

Legislators advanced a bill out of a House Judiciary Committee Monday that would change laws related to the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, an independent group charged with assessing claims of innocence of people convicted of crimes in state courts. The General Assembly created the commission, the first of its kind in the country, in […]

NC Supreme Court upholds law that disenfranchises thousands convicted of felonies

By: - May 1, 2023

The North Carolina Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday upholding a 1970s law requiring people convicted of felonies to complete the terms of their probation or parole in order to regain their right to vote. The decision — which fell 5-2 along party lines — affects more than 50,000 people. Friday’s majority opinion was written […]

Randall Jenkins talks about the challenges he faced coming home from prison

Panel discusses the trauma of prison, and the challenges to adjusting to life outside its gates

By: - April 28, 2023

Of all the things he hadn’t seen in the last 14 years, Tyrone Baker most wanted to see the night sky. He wanted to gaze at the stars without being told he needed to get back in his cell. But if the vast expanse of the darkness above proved comforting, the low ceilings in his […]

flashing lights on a police car

Whistleblower bill advances in NC House over law enforcement concerns

By: - April 26, 2023

Members of a House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Tuesday that would protect police officers from being fired if they report their colleagues’ use of excessive force or otherwise improper conduct. House Bill 589 is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Zenger (R-Forsyth), Rep. John Hardister (R-Guilford), Rep. Danika Brown (D-Forsyth) and Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg). It […]

Pornography, drag shows are focus of child obscenity bill debate

By: - April 25, 2023

Legislators advanced a bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning that would increase the punishment for disseminating obscene materials when a minor is present. “[The] material’s got to depict or describe in a patently offensive way sexual conduct,” said Sen. Buck Newton (R-Greene). It’s already a crime to intentionally spread such materials in […]

Assisting prisoner reentry, new bill would pay formerly incarcerated stipend for food, housing and clothes

By: - April 24, 2023

A bill filed last week would require the Department of Adult Correction to give indigent people exiting its prisons monthly stipends for housing, food, clothing and transportation for up to six months after their release. The proposal, filed on April 20 and sponsored by nine Democrats representing Durham, Mecklenburg, Cumberland, Guilford, Wake and Orange counties, […]

Asheville Blade reporters Veronica Coit and Matilda Bliss

Asheville journalists convicted of trespassing for covering police action at public park

By: - April 20, 2023

Two Asheville journalists were convicted of trespassing Wednesday for covering the city’s police presence in a public park on Christmas night 2021. Chief District Court Judge James Calvin Hill found Veronica Coit and Matilda Bliss, two journalists for the self-described leftist news outlet The Asheville Blade, guilty of second-degree trespassing for failing to leave Aston […]