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.

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 […]

A sign for Asheville's Aston Park

Asheville reporters scheduled for trial this week as a related one about protestors begins

By: - April 19, 2023

Two reporters for the progressive online news source The Asheville Blade are scheduled to go on trial Wednesday after being arrested for covering a police sweep of Aston Park. Matilda Bliss and Veronica Coit are each facing misdemeanor trespassing charges, a low-level crime that can carry up to 20 days in jail and a $200 fine. […]

Bill would abolish the death penalty

By: - April 17, 2023

Four House Democrats have filed a bill that would repeal North Carolina’s death penalty and resentence the 137 people on death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The proposal comes as advocates continue to urge Gov. Roy Cooper to commute all pending death sentences and clear the state’s death row before he […]

A defaced Confederate monument

“No right way to tear down oppressive systems”: the risks of toppling Confederate monuments

By: - April 17, 2023

[Note: This report has been updated to include a statement from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.] Jeremy Collins didn’t know where he was going to get one, but he needed a crane. It was June 2020, a month after George Floyd’s murder. Collins’s boss, Gov. Roy Cooper, had just ordered the removal of three Confederate monuments […]

NC CRED: The harms inflicted by Confederate monuments — and why they should be toppled

By: - April 14, 2023

Every October, Ronda Taylor-Bullock’s hometown would come alive on Goldston’s Old Fashion Day. Vendors would line the streets of the small rural community, selling wares and performing music. But there was one booth that wasn’t for her, a Black child. It made her feel unsafe, even though no adults had explicitly told her to stay away. […]