The Pulse

Legislators advance bills giving more powers to prosecutors

By: - May 25, 2023 12:00 pm
The NC Legislative Building

North Carolina Legislative Building (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

Members of the Senate Rules Committee advanced two bills Thursday that would allow district attorneys to file a petition to modify a person’s probation and permit prosecutors to appoint at least one special investigator.

House Bill 116 would allow district attorneys to recuse themselves from cases for “good cause” and permit each prosecutorial district across North Carolina to hire at least one special investigator. Importantly, it would also ensure counsel provided by the Conference of District Attorneys to prosecutors and their staff remains sealed.

Sen. Buck Newton (R-Greene)

“It clarifies that the written materials related to the criminal investigations and prosecutions are not subject to the Public Records Act,” Sen. Buck Newton (R-Greene) told members of the Senate’s Rules and Operations Committee Thursday morning.

The measure passed on a voice vote. There was no debate or public comment.

House Bill 87 would clarify sheriffs’ authority to buy food for their county jail, give judges discretion to delegate to probation officers the ability to shorten a person’s term of probation and permit district attorneys to file a probation modification petition. Prosecutors would be allowed to file a petition to reduce, terminate, extend, modify or revoke a person’s probation based on a probation violation. If the person on probation is indigent and prosecutors want to extend their supervision, that person would be entitled to an attorney.

That proposal also passed on a voice vote with no opposition.

There are 65,140 people on probation in North Carolina as of May 25, 2023, more than double the number of people in state prisons.

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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.