criminal justice

Fentanyl opiate in plastic bag

Study: police opioid seizures could cost lives, not save them

BY: - June 8, 2023

A new study found that when law enforcement agencies seize illicit opioids, fatal overdoses in the vicinity of the seizure increase over the next three weeks. “This casts doubt on the core assumption of state and federal drug policy and suggests that police officers intending to protect the public’s health and safety may be inadvertently […]

Prisoners walking behind a fence

A better way to run prisons

BY: - June 8, 2023

In recent years, the global conversation surrounding the purpose and effectiveness of prisons has undergone a significant shift. Rather than focusing solely on punishment and isolation, countries like Germany and Norway have pioneered a more therapeutic approach to incarceration. By prioritizing restoration, human dignity, substance use, and mental health treatment, as well as practicing the […]

a photo of downtown Asheville

City of Asheville unsuccessfully tries to sanction journalists’ lawyer for records requests

BY: - June 7, 2023

The City of Asheville had warned attorney Ben Scales not to keep pushing his requests to force dozens of city employees to testify at a criminal trial. Officials had argued the attorney’s subpoenas were “patently improper,” that they subjected staff to “undue burden and expense,” and “deviated from applicable legal standards.” They’d told him that […]

Legal Deserts Defined

Nearly half of North Carolina’s counties are “legal deserts.” State budget proposals could help with that.

BY: - June 1, 2023

Almost half of North Carolina’s counties are “legal deserts,” meaning there is less than one lawyer for every 1,000 residents, the executive director of the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) told members of state a commission Thursday morning. Almost two-thirds of North Carolina’s attorneys are in Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford, Durham and Forsyth […]

The NC Legislative Building

Legislators advance bills giving more powers to prosecutors

BY: - May 25, 2023

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 […]

images of the police raid on Aston Park

City, prosecutors resist records demand of lawyer for Asheville journalists

BY: - May 17, 2023

After two Asheville journalists were convicted of trespassing last month, their lawyer, Ben Scales, said he would get a bevy of documents and records before his clients appealed to Buncombe County Superior Court.  On May 1, Scales attempted to make good on that promise, subpoenaing a long list of items from the Asheville Police Department. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Henry McCollum and Leon Brown

What does the death penalty really cost North Carolina?

BY: - April 21, 2023

In March, an appeals court affirmed the historic $75 million in damages that a jury granted to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, brothers who were sentenced to death in Robeson County in 1983 and spent 30 years in prison for a murder they didn’t commit, and who’s case was plagued by systemic racism. Now, the […]

Efforts continue to get Cooper to commute death sentences before he leaves office

BY: - April 12, 2023

Religious leaders will call on Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday to commute the punishments of 137 people in state prisons sentenced to death. Such an action would clear North Carolina’s Death Row. Organizers will deliver a letter to the governor signed by almost 300 faith leaders — representing every major faith tradition including Islam, Judaism, […]


NC Newsline report spotlights a grave injustice, and state leaders should take action

BY: - April 6, 2023

Read the investigative story by Kelan Lyons.

A miscarriage of justice, a life in prison

BY: - April 5, 2023

This story mentions sexual assault. It was April 2022, and come summer 66-year-old Bobby Norfleet would begin another year behind bars. He bore the marks of 44 years in North Carolina prisons. He had a lump in his left leg. He didn’t have any teeth. His dentures had broken, so talking was difficult.  Bobby’s younger […]