Tag Archive: North Carolina

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

settle-out-of-court

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.

(more…)

Carrboro Aldermen Examine Guidelines for Police Body Cameras

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(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

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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

Comedy BreakoutCOMEDY BREAKOUT

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

Hosted Josh Rosenstein

Saturday, 3/14: Benefit Book Sale! Over a Thousand Books

Bookshelf_KittyRain or Shine! We’re set up inside!

USED BOOK SALE: Saturday, March 14th, the Prison Books Collective is hosting a one 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, text books, history, literature, military manuals ,contemporary fiction, and art. 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!

Saturday, March 14th

9am- 1pm (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.

More than 30 Carrboro residents protest their landlords Saturday

More than 30 community members and residents of General Services Corporation (GSC) properties gathered Saturday to confront what several called predatory water bill pricing. They hand-delivered letters of protest to five GSC properties, including Ridgewood, Royal Park, University Lake, Carolina Apartments and Estes Park.

“We are here to send a message to GSC management — we’re here to ask them to do the right thing,” said Rev. Nathan Hollister, who is responsible for spearheading the community’s response to GSC’s business practices. (more…)

Report shows extent of police surveillance in North Carolina

surveillanceFrom Indy Week

More than 70 North Carolina law enforcement agencies are using automatic license plate readers, cell phone location trackers and surveillance cameras to keep an eye, and a mass of data, on ordinary citizens. And soon, they could be able to add unmanned drones to that list.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) uncovered a wealth of information about surveillance technologies that police and sheriff’s departments use in jurisdictions across the state, through a series of public records requests. Thursday morning, ACLU-NC policy director Sarah Preston and staff attorney Nathan Wessler joined former state Senator and criminal defense attorney Thom Goolsby to host a legislative briefing on privacy and surveillance issues.

While surveillance technology is not new, its use by law enforcement is becoming more widespread in the digital age, and the laws regulating its use have fallen far behind. The federal statute that governs warrantless access to cell phone and email records, for example, has not been updated since 1986. Now, regulating surveillance technology is falling to the states, and the ACLU-NC is pushing for legislation that protects the Fourth Amendment, by requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant before collecting certain kinds of digital information on citizens. (more…)

Government rebuked for excluding witness in Latin Kings trial

Jay-NPRFrom Triad City Beat

A federal appellate judge finds fault with the government’s decision to exclude testimony from a defense witness in the trial of former Latin King leader Jorge Cornell, but a panel of judges is less sympathetic to arguments about the role of interstate commerce and instructions for the jury to continue deliberating.

A federal appellate judge for the Fourth Circuit sharply criticized the federal government’s decision to exclude testimony from a defense witness from the 2012 trial of former North Carolina Latin Kings leader Jorge Cornell.

Judge Robert B. King, who was appointed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Clinton, bristled when US Attorney Sonja Ralston argued that the court’s opinion in the 1999 case United States v. Rhynes on the matter of witness exclusion was “fractured.”

Ralston’s characterization slighted a ruling on witness exclusion handed down by the very court hearing the appeal of Cornell’s criminal racketeering conviction.

“It was eight to two,” riposted King, who wrote the opinion in the 1999 case. “That’s not very fractured.” (more…)

Joseph Sledge freed after 37 years in prison

josephsledgeFrom WRAL

— A man who spent nearly four decades behind bars was freed from prison Friday after a three-judge panel found him innocent in the 1976 stabbing deaths of a Bladen County mother and her adult daughter.

Last month, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission recommended the case of Joseph Sledge for judicial review after newly discovered evidence cast doubt on whether he had anything to do with the killings of Josephine Davis, 74, and Ailene Davis, 53, in their Elizabethtown home.

About an hour after the judges’ ruling – and after 37 years in prison – Sledge, 70, walked out of the Columbus County jail in Whiteville into the arms of family. (more…)