Tag Archive: North Carolina

2 Men Awarded $750,000 for Wrongful Convictions in 1983 Murder


From The New York Times

DURHAM, N.C. — One year to the day after a North Carolina judge threw out their wrongful murder convictions, a state commission awarded $750,000 each as compensation to two half-brothers who spent three decades in prison, much of it on death row.

Patrick M. Megaro, the recently hired lawyer for the men, Henry Lee McCollum, 51, and Leon Brown, 47, announced the settlement. Mr. Megaro also filed a federal lawsuit against government and law enforcement officials of Robeson County, N.C., for obtaining their convictions through “fraud, perjury, coercion, the willful failure or refusal to investigate exculpatory evidence.”

A pardon by Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina in June made each man eligible for $50,000 a year in compensation from the state, up to $750,000 each. (Without a cap, the compensation for their full 31 years in prison would be more than double that amount.) The maximum was granted to each man on Wednesday by the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which oversees workers’ compensation and tort claims. (more…)

Aug.29-30: Huge Book Sale! Benefit for Prison Books


USED BOOK SALE: August 29th-30th, the Prison Books Collective is hosting a two day book sale starting at 9am. We have hundreds and hundreds of great books that we can’t send into prisons, but that we can send home with you. Many left political titles, impossible to find underground zines and books, text books, history, literature, military manuals ,contemporary fiction, art and more. This sale is a benefit to raise funds for our enormous postage costs.

This giant book sale is a great way to get some wonderful books and support the work of the Prison Books Collective.

Book Sale!

August 29th-30th

Saturday 9am-2pm (Rain or Shine)

Sunday 9am-4pm (Rain or Shine)

621 Hillsborough Rd. in Carrboro

Map link: https://maps.google.com/maps

All Books Sliding Scale! You pick out the books and decide how much you want to pay for what you find! $1 minimum per book.

We can take debit and credit cards.

Man cleared in Durham police officer’s shooting



— A Durham man was acquitted Friday of shooting a police officer three years ago, with jurors convicting him only of common law robbery in the case.

Officer Kelly Stewart was shot in the thigh during a confrontation with Carlos Antonio Riley Jr. following a December 2012 traffic stop. Stewart testified that Riley was being uncooperative and shot him after the two got into a fist fight. But Riley’s defense attorney insisted that Stewart accidentally shot himself with his own gun during the struggle.

“I believed this was going to happen. My faith, my faith, my faith and prayer. Prayers going up, and prayers come down,” a relieved Patricia Riley, Riley’s grandmother, said after the verdict was announced.

“The truth always prevails over all things,” said Riley’s mother, Karen Judd. “My son always has to be honest. I taught him that. I taught him to treat people in a humane way. During this trial, they were trying to portray him as a vicious criminal.”

Stewart was unavailable for comment Friday, and Police Chief Jose Lopez expressed disappointment in the outcome. (more…)

$2.5 Million Settlement Paid To Family Of Michael Kerr, Inmate Who Died Of Thirst In Solitary



— State officials will pay out a $2.5 million settlement to the family of a mentally ill prisoner who died of dehydration last year five days after he was left in handcuffs in solitary confinement.

Correctional officers found Michael Anthony Kerr dead on March 12, 2014, after transporting him from Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville to Central Prison in Raleigh.

An Army veteran who suffered from schizoaffective disorder that went untreated for at least six months, Kerr was serving a 31-year sentence at Alexander Correctional for firing a weapon at private property and repeated felony convictions. He had been held in solitary confinement for more than a month before his death. (more…)

Anarchist Perspective on Mass Prisoner Resistance Movements


From Anarchist News / By Ben Turk

There is a widespread, growing and committed resistance movement happening in US prisons across the nation. This movement is not going away, and with more outside support and national coordination, it could be powerful enough to reshape not only the US prison system, but the entire society.

At the time of this writing thirty prisoners at Ohio State Penitentiary, the supermax prison in Ohio are recovering from a hunger strike that has lasted over 30 days. Prisoners in Georgia, accused of leading the largest prison work stoppage in US history in 2010 are on hunger strike demanding relief from torture conditions they’ve been subjected to in solitary confinement as reprisal for their non-violent protest. The Free Alabama Movement (FAM) has been dealing with threats, beatings and lockdowns they’ve been subjected to in reprisal for the mass work stoppages that shut down three Alabama facilities for weeks in January of 2014.

Massive hunger strikes that rocked California’s prison system in recent years are now getting slow results in favorable court decisions for their class action lawsuit. Prisoners in IllinoisGeorgiaVirginiaNorth Carolina and Washington State have all engaged in historically large protests in recent years. In February, thousands of immigrant prisoners in a federal detention facility in Texas refused to work, and protested and sabotaged the facility, rendering it uninhabitable. At around the same time women at an Arizona county jail were on hunger strike refusing to eat the moldy food they’d been served.

The above examples are only the most coordinated and best publicized of these protests. Many prisoners see individual acts of courage and resistance as necessary for their identity and survival. When the country locks up as large a portion of its population as the US does, prisoner protests are inevitable and almost constant. (more…)

North Carolina: Inmates win settlement after they were forced to sit naked in jail cells


From Charlotte Observer

Two young offenders who contend they were forced to sit naked in their cells at the Alexander County jail have reached a legal settlement with the county.

Under the terms of the settlement, the county’s insurance company will pay former inmates Justin Helton and Austin Saddler $15,000 each, according to a source knowledgeable about the settlement.

The two were 16 in 2011 when they say they were forced to go naked for days at a time, sometimes in full view of adult inmates. They allege they were also deprived of their mattresses and their belongings as punishment for trying to tattoo themselves.

When they entered the hallway for meals and showers they contend they were forced to do so completely naked. Their allegations first became public in an Observer story published last year.

Wendy Greene, the Raleigh lawyer who represented the young men, contends that the punishment described by her clients “was not an isolated incident” at the jail in Taylorsville, 60 miles northwest of Charlotte.


Carrboro Aldermen Examine Guidelines for Police Body Cameras


(Click here for an article on some of the many problems with body cameras)

From Chapelboro

Carrboro police officers may soon be required to wear cameras on their bodies.

Last year’s incidents in Ferguson and New York invigorated conversations across the nation about police misconduct and racial discrimination. Earlier this month the United States Department of Justice issued a damning report on Ferguson police, finding explicit racial bias among officers against African Americans (including racist emails sent by officers).

At Tuesday’s Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting, Member Michelle Johnson said body cameras will not end police racial profiling. But some think body cameras could reduce police misconduct by recording interactions between officers and the public.

Carrboro officials have been discussing police body cameras for the last half year. Carrboro’s draft policy sets guidelines for use of cameras and management of the video taken. (more…)

Fourth Circuit rejects appeal by jailed Latin Kings leader Jorge Cornell

kingjayFrom Triad City Beat/ By Jordan Green

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down an appeal by North Carolina Latin Kings Leader Jorge Cornell, his brother and fellow Latin Kings member Russell Kilfoil and an associate named Ernesto Wilson.

The three-judge panel that heard the case in Richmond, Va. earlier this year upheld the judgment of the district court based on finding no reversible error. Summarizing the arguments of Cornell and his co-defendants, Judge Steven Agee wrote that the defendants made “several assertions of error concerning their trial, primarily focusing on the district court’s jury instructions and the sufficiency of the evidence.”

The opinion was published on March 16, less than two months after the judges heard arguments from the defendants’ lawyers and federal prosecutors.

Cornell, also known as King Jay, received a sentence of 28 years in prison after being found guilty of racketeering conspiracy, along with additional charges of violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Both of the latter charges were related to an April 2008 assault in which the government alleged that Cornell ordered Latin Kings members to retaliate against a supposed rival.

Cornell professed his innocence during his sentencing hearing, and said he never ordered any of his members to commit any act of violence. He said he kicked out members who committed crimes. Several community leaders testified about Cornell’s efforts to promote reconciliation among street gangs, encourage his members to pursue education and vocational development, and wide-ranging social justice efforts. The federal appellate opinion issued on March 16 provides a contrasting characterization of the Latin Kings: “Central to the organization is a culture of violence, which is manifested through frequent disputes with rival gangs. Violence and the threat of violence are also used to maintain compliance with gang rules.” (more…)

Pardons Elude Men Freed After Decades in North Carolina Prison


Henry L. McCollum awaiting word on a rental home in Fayetteville, N.C.

From The New York Times

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — In the days leading up to the one last summer when Henry L. McCollum left North Carolina’s death row, it seemed that inmates and staff members could not stop talking about what awaited him beyond Central Prison.

The man who had spent almost his entire adult life awaiting execution would be able to go out for fried chicken, his favorite. Maybe he could strike a movie deal. At the very least, Mr. McCollum remembers, people told him that he would be a man of considerable wealth once the state paid him the $750,000 he could seek under North Carolina law because he had been wrongly convicted and imprisoned for decades.

Mr. McCollum, 50, was released from prison last September after DNA evidence showed that he did not rape and murder a young girl in 1983. But since then, he and his half brother, Leon Brown, who was also exonerated and freed in the same case, have led anything but glamorous post-prison lives. Instead, because of legal decisions made to help accelerate their release, as well as Gov. Pat McCrory’s deliberate approach to granting what is known here as a pardon of innocence, both men have clung to a minimal existence, absent substantive remuneration, counseling or public aid in transitioning back to society. (more…)

Comedy Breakout- a hilarious house show to benefit the Prison Books Collective


a hilarious house show to benefit the Prison Books Collective
March 20th
7:30doors/ 8:30show
$5-20 Sliding Scale (No One Turned Away)
@ The Hillsborough Road Co-op
621 Hillsborough Rd, Carrboro
park on a sidestreet/walk/ride yer bike.
Kathleen McDonald
Drew Robertson
Tristan Dufresne
Brian Burns
Katherine Lloyd
Aaron Cobb

Hosted Josh Rosenstein